Bertrand Russell, In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays

I like the simplicity of this argument.  It’s meant as a refutation of capitalism but there’s a logical short-cut here.

“Suppose that, at a given moment, a certain number of people are engaged in the manufacture of pins. They make as many pins as the world needs, working (say) eight hours a day. Someone makes an invention by which the same number of men can make twice as many pins: pins are already so cheap that hardly any more will be bought at a lower price. In a sensible world, everybody concerned in the manufacturing of pins would take to working four hours instead of eight, and everything else would go on as before. But in the actual world this would be thought demoralizing. The men still work eight hours, there are too many pins, some employers go bankrupt, and half the men previously concerned in making pins are thrown out of work. There is, in the end, just as much leisure as on the other plan, but half the men are totally idle while half are still overworked. In this way, it is insured that the unavoidable leisure shall cause misery all round instead of being a universal source of happiness. Can anything more insane be imagined?” ― Bertrand Russell, In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays

It’s important not to overlook that “invention”.  It’s not the invention itself that makes the workers more productive.  It’s the embodiment of the invention in the pin-making machinery that generates the productivity.  Somebody has to pay for those more expensive machines.

When the left turns on its own

This is nuts. The liberals or progressives among us used to defend one’s right to express an opinion, however unpopular.  Not so much now.  

“Shutting down conservatives has become de rigueur. But now anti-free-speech activists are increasingly turning their ire on free-thinking progressives. Liberals shouldn’t cede the responsibility to defend free speech on college campuses to conservatives. After all, without free speech, what’s liberalism about?”

http://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/when-the-left-turns-on-its-own/

A not-so-innocent abroad: Trump bumbles across the Middle East – The Washington Post

The tail end of this critical piece observes that even when President Trump is reading from the teleprompter he can’t resist embellishments.  The columnist imagines, What if Trump were called upon to deliver the Gettysburg Address?

“Four score and seven years ago — that’s a long time ago, very long — our fathers, who spoke about this at great length, did what perhaps has virtually never been done before: brought forth on this continent, a new nation, a very great new nation — there’s no question about that — conceived in liberty — and that is so important! — and dedicated to the amazing proposition — and they felt very strongly about this, I can tell you — that all men are created equal. Number one for me.”

Source: A not-so-innocent abroad: Trump bumbles across the Middle East – The Washington Post

So, let’s say Trump gets impeached. Then what? – The Washington Post

​Interesting premise…the author suggests that if impeached and removed from office Trump wouldn’t go away but would start campaigning for the 2020 election – creating havoc on the way.

A better alternative, he (the author) suggests, would be for the Democrats to develop some positive messaging/programs/alternatives. I agree; relying on the “Not my President” dissenters isn’t going to carry them very far in the mid-terms.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/so-lets-say-trump-gets-impeached-then-what/2017/05/21/40f81c74-3cb6-11e7-a058-ddbb23c75d82_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-ehomepagestory&utm_term=.6f336bb18607

Get me the H.R. Department!”  “We don’t need no stinkin’ H.R. Department”.

This guy, Peter O’Leary, is suing the Ottawa Senators for constructive dismissal.  His old boss, Cyril Leeder, was fired by owner Euguene Melnyk a few weeks after O’Leary.

On Nov. 29, Leeder left O’Leary a handwritten note stating that the bonus would be paid that night, apologizing that it had taken so long. Outstanding employer RRSP contributions were also paid, according to the statement of claim. On Dec. 5, Brooks sent O’Leary an email stating that the payment was made “‘in error’ and that he must immediately return it,” according to the claim. O’Leary asked for an explanation and the next day O’Leary lost network access, including his work email and mobile phone, and was removed from the company directory.

Source: Former Sens executive sues team for $1.5M, alleges friction with Melnyk – Ottawa – CBC News

Politically correct UC-Berkeley restricts access to thousands of online lecture videos

This is too bad.  UC Berkeley has a trove of video-taped lectures that they through up on their website – as a goodwill gesture, I guess.  That seems like good economic sense – creating value in the broader community and good publicity for the university.  But the recordings weren’t post-edited to include hand signage or footnotes for the visually- or hearing-impaired.  And they complained.  And the university agreed to take down the videos.  In a narrow sense, I agree with the university’s decision.  “You know what?  You’re right.  Screw this.  Life’s too short for us to go to bat.  You want to spoil something for everyone just because you can’t use it?  Okay.”

 

Why UC-Berkeley is restricting access to thousands of online lecture videos

Source: Why UC-Berkeley is restricting access to thousands of online lecture videos – The Washington Post

North Korean leader’s half-brother murdered in Malaysia: Reuters

I noticed this tid-bit in the details of the story.

The portly and easygoing Kim Jong Nam was believed to be close to his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, who was North Korea’s second most powerful man before being executed on Kim Jong Un’s orders in 2013.
Sometimes being second-most-powerful just isn’t good enough.

Source: North Korean leader’s half-brother murdered in Malaysia: source | Top News | Reuters