Category Archive 'The Internet'
09 Apr 2017

Cornell Prof Has Good News For Us Hicks

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North Main Street, Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, just a bit before my time. It still looked just like this when I was a boy.

Cornell Economic historian Louis Hyman strokes his chin in the New York Times, points out to the rest of us peons the economic realities that everybody already knows, and then assures Red State Trump supporters who prefer small towns to the metropolis that they can do just fine after all.

We need merely get used to doing without buildings, streets, theaters, bars, and churches, and make ourselves comfortable in electronic neighborhoods on Internet social media, while making a good living marketing our quaint custom handicrafts to the international luxury market on-line.

Isn’t it easy to solve these things from your departmental office at Cornell?

Throughout the Rust Belt and much of rural America, the image of Main Street is one of empty storefronts and abandoned buildings interspersed with fast-food franchises, only a short drive from a Walmart.

Main Street is a place but it is also an idea. It’s small-town retail. It’s locally owned shops selling products to hardworking townspeople. It’s neighbors with dependable blue-collar jobs in auto plants and coal mines. It’s a feeling of community and of having control over your life. It’s everything, in short, that seems threatened by global capitalism and cosmopolitan elites in big cities and fancy suburbs.

Mr. Trump’s campaign slogan was “Make America Great Again,” but it could just as easily have been “Bring Main Street Back.” Since taking office, he has signed an executive order designed to revive the coal industry, promised a $1 trillion infrastructure bill and continued to express support for tariffs and to criticize globalism and international free trade. “The jobs and wealth have been stripped from our country,” he said last month, signing executive orders meant to improve the trade deficit. “We’re bringing manufacturing and jobs back.”

But nostalgia for Main Street is misplaced — and costly. Small stores are inefficient. Local manufacturers, lacking access to economies of scale, usually are inefficient as well. To live in that kind of world is expensive.

This nostalgia, like the frustration that underlies it, has a long and instructive history. Years before deindustrialization, years before Nafta, Americans were yearning for a Main Street that never quite existed. . . . The fight to save Main Street, then as now, was less about the price of goods gained than the cost of autonomy lost. . . .

To save Main Street, state lawmakers in the 1930s passed “fair trade” legislation that set floors for retail prices, protecting small-town manufacturers and retailers from big business’s economies of scale. These laws permitted manufacturers to dictate prices for their products in a state (which is where that now-meaningless phrase “manufacturer’s suggested retail price” comes from); if a manufacturer had a price agreement with even one retailer in a state, other stores in the state could not discount that product. As a result, chain stores could no longer demand a lower price from manufacturers, despite buying in higher volumes.

These laws allowed Main Street shops to somewhat compete with chain stores, and kept prices (and profits) higher than a truly free market would have allowed. At the same time, workers, empowered by the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, organized the A. & P. and other chain stores, as well as these buttressed Main Street manufacturers, so that they also got a share of the profits. Main Street — its owners and its workers — was kept afloat, but at a cost to consumers, for whom prices remained high.

But this world was unsustainable. It unraveled in the 1960s and 1970s, as fair trade laws were repealed, manufacturers discovered overseas suppliers and unions came undone. On Main Street, prices came down for shoppers, but at the same time, so did wage growth. Main Street was officially dead.

It’s worth noting that the idealized Main Street is not a myth in some parts of America today. It exists, but only as a luxury consumer experience. Main Streets of small, independent boutiques and nonfranchised restaurants can be found in affluent college towns, in gentrified neighborhoods in Brooklyn and San Francisco, in tony suburbs — in any place where people have ample disposable income. Main Street requires shoppers who don’t really care about low prices. The dream of Main Street may be populist, but the reality is elitist. “Keep it local” campaigns are possible only when people are willing and able to pay to do so.

In hard-pressed rural communities and small towns, that isn’t an option. This is why the nostalgia for Main Street is so harmful: It raises false hopes, which when dashed fuel anger and despair. President Trump’s promises notwithstanding, there is no going back to an economic arrangement whose foundations were so shaky. In the long run, American capitalism cannot remain isolated from the global economy. To do so would be not only stultifying for Americans, but also perilous for the rest of the world’s economic growth, with all the attendant political dangers. …

Many rural Americans, sadly, don’t realize how valuable they already are or what opportunities presently exist for them. It’s true that the digital economy, centered in a few high-tech cities, has left Main Street America behind. But it does not need to be this way. Today, for the first time, thanks to the internet, small-town America can pull back money from Wall Street (and big cities more generally). Through global freelancing platforms like Upwork, for example, rural and small-town Americans can find jobs anywhere in world, using abilities and talents they already have. A receptionist can welcome office visitors in San Francisco from her home in New York’s Finger Lakes. Through an e-commerce website like Etsy, an Appalachian woodworker can create custom pieces and sell them anywhere in the world.

Americans, regardless of education or geographical location, have marketable skills in the global economy: They speak English and understand the nuances of communicating with Americans — something that cannot be easily shipped overseas. The United States remains the largest consumer market in the world, and Americans can (and some already do) sell these services abroad.

05 Apr 2017

Althouse is the Closest Thing on the Internet to Dorothy Parker

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Who but Ann Althouse could deliver two in a row like this?

30 Aug 2016

Death, the Final AFK

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Death&theInternet

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are already littered with the accounts of members who have passed away. Inevitably, some decades in the future, the number of accounts of the dead will exceed those of living users. What should social media sites do about that?

NDKane discusses the possibilities.

17 Jul 2016

NYM: One of the Fifty Top Blogs

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lewiswetzel375
Never Yet Melted’s logo comes from a 19th century Life of Frontiersman & Indian Fighter Lewis Wetzel, depicting Wetzel shooting one of three Indians attempting to kill him. Wetzel was able to reload on the run and killed all three of his pursuers. The image was chosen as a rustic American homage to the images of irrationality and barbarism defeated by civilized Western intelligence originally displayed on the Parthenon in Athens and on the Great Altar of Zeus and Athena in Pergamon.

Never Yet Melted has been around a while now, but remains (the complimentary term is) a boutique blog, inevitably limited in readership due to the idiosyncratic opinions, eccentricities, and often esoteric interests of its solitary editor and proprietor.

Surprisingly, today NYM has been named (for the first time ever) to one of those lists of THE FIFTY TOP BLOGS RIGHT NOW by The Daley Gator.

We’re in some good company on his list, though he has obviously overlooked a number of far more prominent and important conservative blogs than this one.

09 May 2016

I Have No Explanation

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MausoleumwithWiFi

28 Feb 2015

Net Neutrality

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netregs

15 Jul 2014

Yahoo Japan Offering Special Service Designed for Boomers

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Reaper1

Silicon Beat:

It’s old news that the Internet has become an essential part of daily life. But now Yahoo Japan is offering to help people prepare for their eventual death online.

A new service called “Yahoo! Ending” promises to delete personal data from online accounts, send out a digital farewell message to friends and even host a memorial web page where people can leave condolences – once the service has confirmed that a subscriber has died.

That’s according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, which said the service will also help people plan their funerals and even compose their wills. (We checked out the Yahoo Japan site, but the English-language version provided by Google Translate left us confused about some details.)

This isn’t actually a new idea: We’ve reported previously on smaller companies that offer this kind of service. But it’s the first time we’ve heard of a comprehensive death package offered by a large Internet company. Yahoo Japan is a joint venture between Sunnyvale-based Yahoo and the Japanese giant SoftBank.

A US version would be poised to make a fortune.

12 Jul 2014

Anti-Hunting Hysteria

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kendall-jones
Kendall Jones

A 19-year-old Texas Tech cheerleader became “the most hated woman on the Internet” after she posted photos of herself on Facebook posing with various big game trophies, including lion, leopard, elephant, and cape buffalo.

Her photographs and praise of hunting provoked a tsunami of abuse, and within days Facebook fell into line and deleted the young lady’s photographs.

Facebook deleted a series of photos that showed her posing with a variety of animals, including a leopard and a lion, that she had shot earlier this month on safari in Zimbabwe.

The pictures were said to break a rule about “graphic images shared for sadistic effect or to celebrate or glorify violence,” as outlined in this page on Facebook Community Standards, Mashable reported.

“We remove reported content that promotes poaching of endangered species, the sale of animals for organized fight or content that includes extreme acts of animal abuse,” a Facebook spokesperson told Mashable.

But Juneau Empire reporter Matt Woolbright noticed the stunning contradiction when he tried to report the “Kill Kendall Jones” community page, and Facebook said it didn’t violate their standards.

It took slightly longer for Facebook to decide to delete the newly-created “Kill Kendall Jones” page.

The cheerleader not only received death threats. She was condemned by Hollywood actress Hillary Duff, while Virginia democrat Mike Dickinson (now running for Eric Cantor’s 7th district Congressional seat) offered a $100,000 reward for nude photographs of the cheerleader, stating that “she deserves to be a target.”

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AxelleDespieglaere
Axelle Despiegelaere

Meanwhile, during World Cup coverage, 17-year-old Belgian beauty Axelle Despiegelaere won a modelling contract with L’Oreal after television “honey shot” photos of the young lady in the stands went viral.

But her contract was quickly cancelled when the Internet discovered the above trophy photo of the young lady with an oryx on Facebook.

L’Oreal accompanied her firing with the assurance that the cosmetics company “no longer tests on animals, anywhere in the world, and does not delegate this task to others.”

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SpielbergTriceratops
Stephen Spielberg and deceased Triceratops

Finally, right-wing wag Jay Branscomb, last Sunday, posted an on-set photograph of director Stephen Spielberg posing with a model of a Triceratops. labelled “Disgraceful photo of recreational hunter posing next to Triceratops he just slaughtered. Please share so the world can name and shame this despicable man.”

What has been described as a perfect Facebook trainwreck of sanctimony, hysteria, and clueless stupidity ensued, with more than 6000 comments furiously condemning the heartless director.

01 Jul 2014

When You Live in the Boondocks, It’s Satellite Internet Access For You

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InternetRecluse

And that hermit isn’t kidding.

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

21 Jun 2014

The Angry Grad Student and the Moral Philosopher

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Lizbeth
“Lizbeth Mara” depicts herself in several places on the Internet by a stock photo of a pretty brunette muzzled by a pair of grimy male hands. Who knew that moral philosophers ever got their hands dirty?

Charlotte Allen reports, and reflects at length, upon all the sturm und drang, and also the delicious ironies attendant on the story emerging this month of the public shaming of a much-philandering Yale professor of Moral Philosophy and Global Justice by an irate female grad student, furious at having been seduced, now avenging herself via the extra-judicial methods of Internet grassroots appeals and social media.

Ms. Allen finds much entertaining reading in the now widely-distributed anonymous complaints of the alleged victim.

She reported that she began to get suspicious when the professor declined to leave his partner in order to be with her—or even, in fact, to tell his partner that she existed. Then she found out about the “22-year-old virgin” who’d been his former secret mistress, plus the “PhD student in India, who wears a sexy negligee,” and the “other young female scholars that he hosts in his apartment.” Anonymous concluded sadly: “He will continue giving his lectures about justice around the world, pretending not to eat meat for moral reasons, inviting young women to his hotel room for philosophical discussions, and I’m just among the other young women scorned by the moral philosopher, who devotes his life to justice.”

All this would make for a merry tale illustrating the adage “Hell hath no fury like a woman who discovers that her man has been whispering the same sweet nothings into the ears of other females as he’s been whispering into hers.” It would also make for a merry tale of hypocrisy among sanctimonious progressives in academia. “Global justice” typically involves requiring citizens of wealthy First World countries to hand over their income and assets (via taxes) for “redistribution” to impoverished Third World countries, on the theory that they’re complicit in Third World poverty. It’s always fun to see a vegetarian guru of redistribution who also happens to occupy a cushy position at a prestigious East Coast university doing a bit of redistribution of his own on the side. Anonymous lamented: “I falsely assumed that the man who calls affluent westerners human rights violators would treat women with dignity.” Surprise, surprise!

And finally, this ought to be an inspirational tale for grad-school nerds laboring in the library stacks trying to finish their philosophy dissertations: Get yourself a job in “global justice,” and you’ll have more progressive females in sexy negligees throwing themselves at you than there are stars in the sky or Third World kleptocrats.

But Allen is also a bit alarmed at the dark side of all of this, as one example of an increasing number of cases of feminist warfare against academic departments of Philosophy, and she notes that Internet shaming and mobbing has been, in this case, quite effective.

[W]ithin days of the appearance of Anonymous’s article in Thought Catalog, he was specifically identified by a number of feminist activists—including Anonymous herself—as a Yale professor who had allegedly made sexual overtures to a female Yale undergraduate while serving as her senior-essay adviser and, after her graduation in 2010, employing her as a researcher and translator. That woman is reportedly preparing to sue both the professor and Yale itself, which, according to a September 30, 2011, article in the student newspaper, the Yale Daily News, had found “insufficient evidence to support the allegation of sexual harassment” and merely issued the professor a reprimand for improper business practices.

In short, the global justice professor has been effectively “outed”—linked irrevocably not just to a taste for trysts in hotel rooms around the world but to a concrete allegation of sexual harassment on his own campus. He may win the lawsuit if it is ever filed (those cases are hard to prove), but that’s beside the point. Everyone in the philosophy world is now pretty certain who he is (he has been named on several philosophy blogs), and his career in academia, if not formally finished, may well be mortally wounded. Several well-known philosophers at other universities are more or less calling for his head. Global justice, indeed.

14 Jun 2014

Looking For Obama’s Foreign Policy?

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ObamasForeignPolicy

Hat tip to Clarice Feldman.

09 Sep 2012

Useful Websites

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Amit Agarwal, the Indian WSJ’s personal technology columnist offers 101 useful websites, each of which does something useful very well, and all of which are easy to remember.

I can add one more.

102 tineye.com reverse image source, can often identify where that unlabeled picture came from.

12 Jul 2012

In 1998, Paul Krugman Prognosticates…

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Red Herring:

The growth of the Internet will slow drastically, as the flaw in “Metcalfe’s law“–which states that the number of potential connections in a network is proportional to the square of the number of participants–becomes apparent: most people have nothing to say to each other! By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s.

Hat tip to Walter Olson.

30 Apr 2012

The Ultimate Nerd Service

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The latest and greatest Internet service: your own Fake Internet Girlfriend.

The company explains that renting an imaginary Internet Girlfriend has multiple uses and is much less complicated than the real thing.

Sometimes people need to rent a fake girlfriend for their job. Some employers are biased towards single folks. Often times employers give preference to people in more serious relationships so it can benefit a person to have a fake online girlfriend they can say they are in a long distance relationship with.

Sometimes people hire a fake internet girlfriend to make an ex-girlfriend jealous. In fact, we get a lot of clients for this reason.

Sometimes people don’t want to hear it from their family, they want to avoid the drama all together of the never ending questions about dating so they simply employ a fake internet girlfriend so their family will stop hounding them about finding the right girl.

Sometimes people want to keep certain aspects of their personal life, well personal and private. The one way to do this is to hire a fake internet girlfriend for appearances sake. It avoids all the pesky little questions about why you’ve never been seen dating a girl before.

It isn’t cheap, however. A Fake Internet Girlfriend costs $250 a month, with a minimum three month commitment. Her utility is seriously limited as well since she will never meet you in real life, and will not do sexting.

Hat tip to Victoria Ordin.

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