Saturday, June 24, 2017

Riasing the minimum wage does not hurt business

https://www.fastcompany.com/40434565/a-higher-minimum-wage-is-not-doing-the-bad-things-critics-said-it-would-do?partner=rss

"One common critique of higher minimum wages is that they also raise the cost of living. But last year, an initial study from the University of Washington found that retailers, despite having to pay their workers more, weren’t raising prices. Another is that higher pay will lead to fewer shifts and fewer jobs. And while those same UW researchers are analyzing the data, other researchers at UC Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) used an innovative model to prove that the city’s increased minimum wage has had no negative effect on job availability."

Still more examples and research needed, but things are looking good so far.

My limited understanding of economic theory is that  money is like blood in an animal. It has to circulate to work.  And I would think that if people had more money in their pocket, money would circulate through an economy better.  No?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

How are we doing? Maybe the Santa Monica Wellbeing Index can help us

https://wellbeing.smgov.net/

I just found out about this so have no opinion so far.  We really need something more than GDP or such economic indicators to know how our society and people are doing.  Perhaps this is a good tool.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Micro loft apartments turn mall into success

http://www.lifeaspire.com/6809/americas-oldest-mall-is-turned-into-gorgeous-tiny-homes/

"Developer Evan Granoff bought the property in 2005, with the hopes that he could restore the beautiful building to its former glory. And he did exactly that! He converted the upper levels into 48 tiny apartment homes, while the lower promenade is reserved for boutique shops. No major chain stores are allowed here! The smallest units only cost $550 per month, which is a steal for downtown Providence, Rhode Island."

The developer had to think creatively to get around local size restriction rules for apartments, but he seems to have done it.  This is a unique (for now) idea that seems to be working well.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Fear of the Other takes over in Trump World

http://www.france24.com/en/20170226-renowned-french-historian-detained-10-hours-us-customs-officials

"A French historian was detained for 10 hours by US customs officials this week while on his way to an academic conference in Texas.
Henry Rousso, 62, a specialist in the history of World War II who has taught at the Sorbonne in Paris and Columbia University in New York, was held for questioning after his flight from Paris landed in Houston on Wednesday."

While on the one hand Trump wants to create new jobs in the US, on the other he is single-handedly destroying international tourism and travel to the US.  No one wants to travel to a country where they will be treated like a terrorist or some sort of criminal.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

solar water filtration system

http://www.salon.com/2017/02/21/universitys-solar-still-improves-ancient-water-cleaning-technology/

"But rising awareness of water scarcity issues has led researchers like Gan and his team in Buffalo to apply new techniques to make solar distillation more efficient. Their solar vapor generator and condenser uses porous paper covered with carbon black, a material that has a near-zero reflectivity and therefore absorbs a higher amount of solar heat. The carbon-covered paper is then placed over floating white polystyrene foam and a thermal insulator that helps concentrate the solar heat onto the carbon layer. The device is then placed on the surface of a dirty water source while the paper acts as a sponge and the carbon as an evaporator. The vapor then condenses on the angled wall of the vaporizer, seeping into a culvert that collects the potable water.
Gan and his team have claimed that their prototype produces as much as three times more potable water as comparable solar stills, or about 4.2 cups an hour under sunny conditions. The average healthy adult needs about eight cups of water a day. Crucially, this is all done using cheap materials that can be scaled, meaning arrays of floating stills could be tapped in emergency situations to provide a considerable amount of fresh drinking water to a disaster-struck community, especially in the sunny parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
In November, the researchers registered a company called Sunny Clean Water and are hoping to have a production-ready version of their prototype by the end of the year.  "

I believe clean water will be one of the most important problems in the near future, around the world.  Any cheap method like this will be very welcome.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

We need to completely revamp how we teach our children

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/15/robots-schools-teaching-children-redundant-testing-learn-future?CMP=twt_gu

"In the future, if you want a job, you must be as unlike a machine as possible: creative, critical and socially skilled. So why are children being taught to behave like machines?
Children learn best when teaching aligns with their natural exuberance, energy and curiosity. So why are they dragooned into rows and made to sit still while they are stuffed with facts?
We succeed in adulthood through collaboration. So why is collaboration in tests and exams called cheating?
Governments claim to want to reduce the number of children being excluded from school. So why are their curriculums and tests so narrow that they alienate any child whose mind does not work in a particular way?
The best teachers use their character, creativity and inspiration to trigger children’s instinct to learn. So why are character, creativity and inspiration suppressed by a stifling regime of micromanagement?
There is, as Graham Brown-Martin explains in his book Learning {Re}imagined, a common reason for these perversities. Our schools were designed to produce the workforce required by 19th-century factories. The desired product was workers who would sit silently at their benches all day, behaving identically, to produce identical products, submitting to punishment if they failed to achieve the requisite standards. Collaboration and critical thinking were just what the factory owners wished to discourage."

Finland has started to completely revamp their educational methods.  Let's look to them for advice.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

graphic artist loses to robots, turns to alternative

https://arstechnica.com/business/2017/02/how-being-replaced-by-a-machine-turned-this-graphic-artist-into-an-activist/

"The biggest change he’s referring to is the technologically driven separation of people from traditional jobs. Experts predict that, by 2020, over 5 million jobs will be lost due to robotics, AI, 3D printing, and other technologies—largely in office and administrative work. But other sectors will be affected as well. After all, robots can deliver pizza, mop floors, make soup, work an assembly line, check in hotel guests, carry cargo onto battlefields, and perform surgery. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine them one day displacing sex workers."

Trump wants to re-open coal mines, which is like bringing back buggie whips.  We have to think more about what job displacement can mean. When I was young the magazine articles promised that robots would mean more leisure time for workers, not less pay and wealth transfer to corporations.  That promise could still be realized.