Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Perspective. Is it “We'll charge you for disintermediation” or “We'll Balkinize this process and charge for each step!” Actually, both options are available. (This article could be the plot of a Woody Allen movie)
Of Toasters And Smartphones: Apps And The Economy
Your relationship with your toaster is pretty simple – at least, I hope it is.
You bought your toaster, and now you can toast things with it. Sure: there are various bakers out there vying to sell you bread, and you need to pay your electricity bill to keep things working. But the company that makes your toaster isn’t hoping to take home a percentage of these sales – and it isn’t showing ads based on your past toasting history.
… Compare this to your relationship with your smart phone. Yes, you did buy it, but you likely didn’t pay full price up front: your wireless contract subsidizes the phone. This contract, which you pay for monthly, gives you the right to use a certain amount of data.
… Some apps are sold for a set price; some require subscriptions. In most cases the maker of your smartphone’s operating system – which may or may not be the same company that made your phone – gets a cut of what you paid for the app, or even your ongoing subscription.
… You know where this is going, of course: advertising. But on today’s web, this is not a simple matter of showing you ads and getting paid. Most sites use the information you provide them – the topics you discuss on Facebook, the videos you watch on YouTube and your Google search terms – to show you relevant ads. Some sites take this a step further, using your name and picture as part of the ads other users see.

Poor Kim.
Hollywood Sues Megaupload, Kim Dotcom
Megaupload was taken offline and dismantled in January 2012, but that hasn’t stopped Hollywood chasing down the people behind it. Twentieth Century Fox, Disney, Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures, and Warner Bros. are amongst the studios seeking damages of up to $175 million for the copyright infringements they allege took place on the file-hosting service.
The studios involved not only claim to be entitled to the maximum statutory damages of $150,000 per copyright infringement, but also all of the profits generated through the site. The defendants are Megaupload Ltd., its founder Kim Dotcom, the majority shareholder Mathias Ortmann, and the Chief Technical Officer Bram van der Kolk.

A Simple Theory for Why School and Health Costs Are So Much Higher in the U.S.
The costs of education, health care, and the live performing arts are growing at about the same rate in all the OECD countries—and yet the costs of these services are much higher in the United States. For example, U.S. total educational spending, as a share of GDP, is about is 26% higher than the average of the other OECD countries. A team led by Edward N. Wolff of Bard College points out that because the humans who provide these services aren’t replaceable by machines, costs tend to rise inexorably, and that America got a long head start on spending in the nineteenth century when a rapidly expanding economy led to huge expenditures on universities, hospitals, and cultural institutions.

For all my students, but my Statistics students in particular.
Gallup – Americans Say College Degree Leads to a Better Life
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on April 7, 2014
Gallup: “Americans believe in the importance of postsecondary education, with more than nine in 10 (94%) saying a postsecondary degree or credential is at least somewhat important and 70% saying it is very important, similar to last year’s findings. However, most also say higher-education institutions must evolve to better serve the needs of today’s students. These results are from a Nov. 25-Dec. 15, 2013, study by Gallup and the Lumina Foundation with a random sample of U.S. adults. While Americans in every age group are equally likely to see the importance of higher education, more than three-quarters (77%) of those who have completed postsecondary education themselves say it is very important to attain a certificate or degree, compared with 60% who have some college experience and 66% who have a high school diploma or less education.”

Could be interesting.
The Thomas Jackson Letters
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on April 7, 2014
Here you will find a unique collection of previously unpublished letters describing facts and feelings about slavery and the civil war as seen from the grass roots level in Reading, Pennsylvania. These detailed, authentic, contemporary reports, most in excellent condition, have all been left to us in the letters of rope-maker Thomas Jackson. The author had been born and spent his early years in England but emigrated to USA in 1829 and spent the rest of his life in Reading. He became a fervent abolitionist and, as the war progressed, wrote back to his cousins asking that they try to get his letters published in the English newspapers. For this reason, many of the letters contain virtually no reference to family matters but concentrate instead on reporting his first hand experiences of the civil war and the injustices of slavery. By following Thomas Jackson’s passionate descriptions, you can now re-live a little history and become a witness through his eyes to some of the key events of the American civil war. In one way, you might see these letters as propaganda seemingly intended to help persuade the English people to not give their support to the southern confederate states despite the massive importance of Southern cotton to the British economy. His viewpoint was clearly one sided and did not give the slightest consideration to the southern case for secession and state’s rights. His support for the abolition of slavery dominated every aspect of his political life. His obituary in the Reading Times-Dispatch, August 7 1878 declared him to be “an original abolitionist and a warm friend and admirer of Horace Greeley and Thurlow Weed, and other (nationally known) antislavery agitators.” [via Jan Swanbeck, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida]

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