Morning Ed: World {2016.02.25.Th}


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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51 Responses

  1. Avatar Damon says:

    Sea Trash. Agreed. I’d read about this kid’s invention a while ago. Rather interesting. Maybe he can help out the space guys on creating something to do the same for near earth orbiting trash?Report

  2. Avatar notme says:

    GAO says there is fraud in Obamacare and the gov is taking a “passive approach” to combating it. More “leading from behind.” Why would they care?

  3. Avatar PD Shaw says:

    Sea trash problem overstated. The common figures given for the amount of plastic waste in the ocean are derived from a model that essentially multiples miles of coastline by population size by quality of waste disposal practices. In this model, most of the world’s theoretical sea trash originates from countries on the China seas, with the biggest culprits being China and Indonesia. So I get why Japan would have a problem, but its overfishing activities don’t make it particularly sympathetic on problems of the commons.

    In any event, once plastic is broken down by sun, salt, wind and waves to 1 mm, bacteria and microbes eat it. More here:

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to PD Shaw says:

      I would say the problem is misstated, rather than overstated, as your link very capably point out.

      Something like this dude’s boom in the morning links is fine for high current areas in the littorals (where the garbage is macroscopic), like the Tsushima strait, but is utterly useless in the open ocean, along with any attempts to ‘scoop up’ the trash.

      There’s a problem in perception of the garbage patch as something one can actually see, but there’s also a problem (again, as your link points out) that we don’t really know the biome and ecosystem effects of aquatic microorganisms snarfing up all this micro plastic.Report

  4. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    Time zones and calendar: Lo these many years back when I was a teenager I avidly read Isaac Asimov’s essays. These sorts of reform schemes were an occasional topic. I, in my youthful nerdishness, would nod my head in agreement and wonder why everyone wasn’t eagerly adopting something so obviously sensible. Now, in my extremely advanced youth where I am sadder and wiser, my response to guys like this is to encourage them to devote themselves to a social media campaign promoting their scheme. Who knows what sort of damage they might do were they to instead direct their energies in some what they might possibly affect the rest of us?

    The funniest part of the interview is this:

    “WV: Are there any drawbacks that you could see?
    HH: Not really.”

    From this, I infer that these guys cannot be trusted with ordering breakfast. That one of them is a CATO Institute guy is pretty darned funny, too.Report

    • Avatar Mo in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      Obviously, none of the people involved in that story have to regularly deal with people in very different time zones on a regular basis. You would need some sort of lookup table to see what the local office hours are, in order to make sure the call is convenient. What would most likely happen is that it would end up being an hourly offset that would look exactly like time zones, but be less intuitive.Report

      • Avatar Autolukos in reply to Mo says:

        This seems backward: when I’ve worked at places with extensive cross-timezone collaboration, there has always been a single time zone of reference. I don’t need to know what time it is in some other office; the people there will let me know if a time is convenient.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Autolukos says:

          Inclined to agree with this. Working across time zones would become easier rather than more difficult. One o’clock is one o’clock! Well, thirteen hundred hours but you get the idea.

          You’d have to look up office hours more frequently, but I consider that a benefit. I think the fact that we have office hours so stringently between 8-5 is a minus and not a plus. We need “common hours” but it needn’t be the same nine. If this encouraged employers to stagger – and it might, though itmight not – that would be great.Report

          • Avatar Autolukos in reply to Will Truman says:

            I can see it making visiting another office more difficult, as current heuristics for determining when an office is open and populated would be less useful. You’d still have midmorning-late afternoon to work off of, though, so I don’t really see this as a huge problem for loosely scheduled work. For tightly scheduled work, you need to know the exact hours anyway, so no new lookups.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Will Truman says:

            Pretty sure calendar apps can find a way to make it all easier to parse.Report

          • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Will Truman says:

            I think we are talking about slightly different things. A single time zone would make it easier to, for example, set up a conference call: you put out a single time, which is the same for everyone.

            I rarely do that, but I do have occasion to call outside offices in other time zones. If I am calling someone on the west coast I know to do it in the afternoon, because they are three hours behind.

            In the brave new world scheme I would do something pretty similar, but it is unclear exactly how it would work. How would local office hours be determined? By straight-up longitude? This makes sense from the perspective of matching work schedule to the sun, but it means that every city would be on a slightly different schedule, making phones first thing in the morning or just a few minutes before heading out the door an adventure.

            I suspect that what we would actually end up with would be de facto time zones, but possibly even more haphazardly arranged. The shift would be how things would be designated. Right now, any function where this is an issue uses Universal Time, and this is converted to the various time zones for the convenience of the users. In the proposed scheme this is reversed: screw the convenience of the users.

            The psychological point missed here is that humans understand clocks and are willing to adjust to them. Tell people that it is time to spring forward, setting their clocks ahead an hour, and people will do it, and furthermore they will grudgingly lose that hour of sleep. This sense of time is so ingrained that the classic opponents of Daylight Saving Time are farmers, who complained that it threw off their schedules, since cows don’t give a damn about the clock and are ready to be milked when they are ready. The answer of course is for the farmers to maintain their schedule regardless of the clock, but that is just crazy talk.

            All in all, I look at this current proposal and see it comes from an economist and a physicist. That figures. Trying bringing a psychologist into the discussion why don’t you?Report

    • @richard-hershberger

      Yes that line in particular was the point where I was sure he had no idea what he was talking about. “from a physics point of view, there is only one time” was also pretty funny.

      I think their calendar idea is more interesting, but if we were to go to a 364 day calendar, we might as well go the whole hog and change to 13 28-day months, so every month’s days are the same days of the week.Report

  5. Avatar Marchmaine says:

    Regarding Timezones? what an archaic enlightenment view of time. With the state of technology, we should increase the locality of time… let’s decentralize noon. Google can then tell me when I need to leave my present location to arrive at my future location by 2:00 local time.Report

    • I’m probably just old and set in my ways, but I find the idea that the conference call scheduled at a time that’s easy for the boss in Cincinnati to remember starts at 12:14 local time unpleasant.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Of course you are right, which is why we would inevitably create timezones.

        But, if I were to doubledown on the purity of my awesome idea, I’d comment that no one actually remembers meetings anymore, you just go where your phone tells you to go 15-minutes before the next meeting. Or, you push the phone-link in the invitation wherever the heck you happen to be at that moment – and judging by some of the background noises of calls I’ve been on – even if you are standing on the killing floor of a chicken slaughterhouse.Report

  6. Avatar Iron Tum says:

    Re: no timezones, while not as horristupid as metric/revolutionary time, still pretty damn stupid.

    Like the metric system.

    If someone really wanted to make a system that was actually useful, they’d shift from the decimal system to base-12.Report

  7. Avatar Reformed Republican says:

    In Washington, for example, that means we’d have to get used to rising around noon and eating dinner at 1 in the morning. (Okay, perhaps that’s not that big a change for some people.)

    I would argue that the author does not entirely understand what he is talking about. You would not be eating dinner at 1 in the morning. You would be eating dinner at 1 in the evening. Morning will be morning, regardless of what number is on the clock.

    Not to mention, there is no way to enforce universal time. The article has already stated that nations set up their own time zones. Why would that change?

    The calendar idea does not seem much better. An extra week every 5 or 6 years? That seems like something that would be a headache for payroll. If an employee is salary, does their salary increase in the years with the extra week?

    Maybe the time zones and calendar we currently have are not the best, but I do not expect them to change any time soon.

    Also, did we really need a map to show what a Universal Time Zone would look like?Report

    • It wouldn’t change around the world. But you could get some significant penetration the same way that the metric system did.

      I don’t know what to think about the calendar thing, but it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch. Yeah, you’d get paid more on years with the extra week. The same way people who have semi-monthly paycheck get paid a bit more or a bit less depending on the week. On the whole, though, it seems like a solution in search of a problem that’s a bigger problem than the solution would be.

      Also, good to see you again!Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Will Truman says:

        The comparison with the adoption of the metric system is enlightening. Why did the metric system catch on? It has some benefits over competing systems, but these are secondary. It had political (and military) backing, and above all it was early enough that the cost of conversion was low and therefore there was comparatively little institutional inertia against it. The Anglophone world was slow in adopting it initially due to Francophobia. By the time it seemed like a good idea, institutional inertia is a real thing, especially in America. It would have been one thing to retool c. 1800. Retooling c. 1980 was quite another. It is happening: we routinely expect auto mechanics now to have metric tools. But it is slow.

        Most successful reforms have this quality. Denmark, for example, overhauled its spelling in 1948. This was possible only because Danish is spoken by a smallish number of people, the vast majority of them within one national jurisdiction. You can find any number of proposals for English spelling reform, some of them even sensible. None of them stand a chance.

        Talk of radically reforming the calendar or how we keep time? heh. This is much more like trying to reform English than it is Danish.Report

        • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

          I saw a medieval town gate in Switzerland (edit: now I think of it, Germany), where there was a whole bunch of metal rods mounted on the wall with the names of various cities stamped on them. These were the ells of the cities, so that if you were trying to agree on a price per ell for rope or cloth or whatnot, you could go to the gatehouse near the square and see what the other person meant when they said “ell”

          Apparently there was similarly someone there who sat at a table with a scale and a bunch of pound weights with different cities’ names, allowing similar weight comparisons.Report

  8. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Good Lord, that bit about Belgium is just terrible. That’s punch-the-guys-the-wrote-it-in-the-face terrible.Report

  9. Avatar Jaybird says:

    It turns out that they held a vote to fire Melissa Click and the vote passed.Report

    • Avatar Autolukos in reply to Jaybird says:

      Buried the lede:

      The House Budget Committee will consider a spending bill next week that cuts $402,000 from the Columbia campus budget — the amount of Click’s salary as well as that of her department chair and the dean of the College of Arts and Science

      Proposed: the legislature should instead withhold the salary of whoever introduced that grandstanding idiocy.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Autolukos says:

        So not only are they firing her, they’re eliminating her position?


        • Avatar Autolukos in reply to Jaybird says:

          Sounds more pointlessly symbolic than actually cutting the position. Either way, withhold that legislator’s pay. Or, better yet, make him go to faculty meetings for a semester.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Autolukos says:

        Is this really grandstanding? Sounds more like a simple case of a legislator using the tools that he has to try to get Click fired. My guess is that if he could take legislative action to directly fire her, he would. He can’t, so he’s using the legislature’s control of the budget.Report

  10. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Autolukos: Or, better yet, make him go to faculty meetings for a semester.

    That’s just mean…Report

  11. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    And in this week’s favorite tech story, the Maricopa County attorney’s office has announced they will be buying no more iPhones because Apple won’t unlock them. Haven’t these people heard of mobile device management? The county can put every iDevice they buy into supervised mode such that the user can’t lock management out. Do your job, guys, instead of demanding that Apple bail you out after you screw up.Report

    • Avatar notme in reply to Michael Cain says:

      Think a little harder. They are probably referring to apple refusing to unlock the terrorist’s phone or other criminal’s cell phones. Why should they support apple when apple only helps the criminals? Kind of like the NYC DA in the story below.

    • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Michael Cain says:

      Someone needs to explain to me how this “mobile device management” mode that, if it had been implemented by San Bernardino County would allow them to now easily gain access, is NOT a kind of backdoor that everyone’s going into vapors over.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Road Scholar says:

        It’s clearly a backdoor, a backdoor for management. Those people who, you know, pay for the phone & service.

        Honestly, doesn’t everyone do device management for company provided phones?Report

      • It is a backdoor, at least of sorts. BUT… installed by the owner of the device before they hand it to someone else to use. Typically, the owner is a business or a government agency that is providing the phone to an employee for business or agency purposes, not personal ones. If San Bernardino County had managed the device, they would know the passcode. If I had provided my children with iPhones when they were young enough, I would probably have put them in supervised mode.

        I would be more sympathetic to the FBI if they hadn’t screwed up (ordering San Bernardino County to change the iCloud password associated with the device, making it impossible to back up the locked phone), and if San Bernardino County hadn’t screwed up (not managing the device). The New York Times is reporting that sources indicate Apple is already working on one of the “fixes” I’ve proposed for future devices — making it impossible to load new software to a locked phone. Well, “impossible” is too strong a word; but Apple can build phones that will cost a million dollars or more per phone to crack.Report

    • Avatar El Muneco in reply to Michael Cain says:

      I’ve worked for a company that provided technology to them in the past. I’m probably not enjoined from giving any specifics, but I’ll pass anyway. Suffice it to say that their understanding of technology is on the same rough order of cluefulness magnitude as their understanding of public relations.Report

  12. Avatar notme says:

    3) Yep, the EU its seeing the end of the end of Schengen agreement. It was only a matter of time before their liberal attitudes hit the rocks of reality.Report