This pillow is not only a tribute to good engineering and good sense; it is a credit to a commercial system that enables and rewards innovation in service of the better life.
State and local governments don’t need any more of our money to feed their budgets through taxes, whether they’re taken from online sales or not. We should be free to drop whatever we want into our virtual (or real) shopping carts in peace without government sweeping in to get a cut.
That an asset or innovation is subject to scamery, pushed by grifters, invested in by the deluded and avaricious, does not mean it is not a good idea. You can observe the fallacy with any new discovery that has ever appeared in the history of humankind.
The information economy has liberated those who do the work from servile dependency on any single capital-controlling employer. We didn’t need Karl Marx to invent a new political order to do that; we just needed a better software infrastructure.
All governments and all courts everywhere would, if they were sincerely committed to keeping markets as competitive as possible, announce loudly and unconditionally that never again will they take accusations of predatory pricing seriously.
As Bourdain himself says at the outset, with the focus on food and cooking, we can see what it is that drives daily life among the Haitian multitudes. He takes viewers to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Through this micro lens, we gain more insight than we would have if the program were entirely focused on economic issues.
There’s something about the physical experience of a spot like Cotswold Cottage at the American Institute for Economic Research that connects you to the deep past, in all its tribulations and struggle for progress, but also points to a brilliant future. Sometimes we need experiences like this to cause reflection of where we’ve been and where we are going in the forward motion of time, all while experiencing the truly permanent things, like the never-ending battle between the swifts and the sweeps.
The hotel room in Sydney, Australia, didn’t have a coffee pot. But there was a water heater and some packages of instant coffee. Blech, right? That’s what I remember from the old days, meaning some uncertain point in the past. But desperation forced experimentation. I heated the water, poured the packet of Moccona “Indulgence” in the cup. No stirring. You know what? It was just wonderful.
The post offices of the world are like the last of the dinosaurs roaming the earth long after evolution selected against their existence.
The rise of the city scooter as part of the app economy is a fantastic example of how markets generate solutions in the face of intractable problems. The more people tool around on these wonderful scooters, the lighter the traffic, the cleaner the city, and the happier people are. Note that no central planner came up with the idea. It has emerged out of discreet forms of market-based innovation using the best of modern technology combined with a perceived solution of a genuine use case.
The interactions and feedback loops between invention, implementation, and full-on adoption is a fascinating process to watch. It can’t be gamed. It relies on something no one can control: the price system, human choice, resource tradeoffs, and case-by-case circumstances of time and place.
As our society grows ever more complex and technologically advanced, controlling it from the top down is increasingly like herding cats. Attempts at more top-down control, though well-intentioned, won’t work. Rethinking governance itself is an even more challenging path, but offers a multitude of reasons for hope.
Even as the US is pulling inward, demonizing foreign nations, calling everyone in the world a cheater, China is aggressively opening to the world, negotiating bilateral trade pacts with every nation it can and another 14 multilateral trade pacts. More goods and investment coming and going – this seems to be the Chinese credo. It is winning them wealth, prosperity, and good will the world over.
Right now, Facebook faces massive competition from other platforms in social media, copycats, and alternative uses of people’s time. In some ways, it’s the best possible moment to call on government to institutionalize Facebook as a form of public utility. That might actually be the end game that Zuckerberg has in mind. Then the politicians can update their timeline status: today we passed regulations that brought this wayward company to heel.
There is real inspiration to be had by looking at the iterative process of innovation, how that funny little machine from 1883 gradually evolved into the tiny payment processing units we use routinely today, an epic story of improvement in machinery in which the current stage is knitted to all previous stages through an invisible thread of passion for solving problems and serving others.
The continued growth of mobile money should excite anyone who believes private sector innovations are the best means of achieving sustainable economic and financial development across the developing world.
The fall of the Oscars is only one sign of a larger trend. Technology fueled by economic considerations has given people more options than ever. We are curating culture according not to some mythical “national” sense of things but rather in accord with our individual preferences. This is happening now simply because we can. The economic trajectory of technology has made it possible. Any institution that strives to embody some mythical ideal of a unitary culture will fail.
There are many wonderful things in the world, but right now I want to talk about a product of the human mind that is a material celebration of the potential for creativity to overcome and rise above the state of nature. To put it briefly and simply, I’ve found a toilet plunger that embodies the essence of the human drama and reveals why humanity, despite every strong-armed attempt to stamp out progress and subvert the good life, somehow manages not only to survive but thrive through the ages, including even our own.