Friday, January 30, 2015

YCHIBW: Big Corporations and the Teat Edition «

YCHIBW: Big Corporations and the Teat Edition «: "(1) Corporations like Walmart disproportionately benefit from the existence of antipoverty programs like Medicaid and Food Stamps. Why? Because when these are available to people, Walmart does not have to provide people with a wage that, alone, would be enough for these workers to sustain themselves since the government is already providing it.

(2) Corporations like Walmart disproportionately benefit from the existence of antipoverty programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit. Why? Because when the government provides a tax credit to people that are working, they are more likely to work, and therefore Walmart does not have to pay the workers as much as it “normally” would in order to attract them.

Only one of these can be right."

'via Blog this'

It took me a moment to figure this one out.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Gates v. Jobs

I'm starting to think this is going to be an awkward conversation if we ever have this book club since, so far, I'm not impressed with Outliers.

In support of his theroy that almost anyone can achieve excellence with 10,000 hours of practice, Gladwell spills considerable ink documenting the confluence of events that allowed Bill Gates to get his 10,000 programming hours. Gate's proficiency at programming, we are told, is not because Gates is especially talented in any way, but because he logged a lot of programming hours. He was lucky to get access to a computer between the hours of 3 am and 6 am. He was lucky to live in proximity to a computer in the 60s. He was lucky to get released from school to do a special programming task.

I concede that there is some luck in being in the right place at the right time. But I took a different lesson away from this events. Bill Gates was extremely motivated to learn programming. He wanted to spend all his after-school time programming. He was willing to get up in the middle of the night to program, and hide that from his parents. Yes, he was lucky to be close to a computer, but more so, he was really motivated to learn.

But when the book gets to Steve Jobs, it really goes off the rails. There we learn that Steve Jobs didn't have computer terminal access, but he had another advantage: free computer parts! Those parts, Gladwell tells us, are "on par with Bill Gates getting unlimited access to a time-share terminal at age thirteen."

Funny, but I don't see a parallel at all.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

More Outliers

I'm starting to see some tension in the thesis  (or theses) of Outliers.

Chapter One: Professional sports and higher education are not really meritocracies. Those who succeed do so because of a random advantage given them by being older and more developed.

Chapter Two: There are no naturally gifted people or naturally disadvantaged people. All you have to do is spend 10,000 hours practicing to reach an expert level of performance.

A world where everyone has the power to achieve excellence by merely put in the work, is a fairer world than the one I observe. And I generally believe the developed world, despite its injustices, is, on average, a meritocracy.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Outliers Bleg

I'm reading Outliers for a (potential) book club. I'm wondering if there is a good, critical, comprehensive review of the book. Particularly I'm interested in the argument made in the first chapter: older children are favored in certain sports and, even college attendance, because they are more physically and mentally developed than their younger peers, and as a result, receive more attention and positive reinforcement, giving them a life-long advantage.