Showing posts from April 24, 2017

The Rich Are Living Longer and Taking More From Taxpayers

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[The mortality gap: the part of wealth inequality that really, really matters. Social Security is becoming a much better deal for the wealthy. *RON*]
Ben Steverman, Bloomberg, 24 April 2017
We’re living longer and longer. Well, some of us.

Age 100 is now an imaginable goal for young people around the world with good health care. The average woman in Japan is already living to 87. Yet many Americans are dying younger and younger. Based on the latest year of data, the Society of Actuaries last fall dropped its life expectancy estimates for 65-year-olds in the U.S. by six months. The health of middle-aged non-Hispanic white Americans is deteriorating fastest.

The result of these trends, according to a new study, is a widening gap between wealthier and poorer Americans. The richest people in the U.S. aren’t just getting several years of extra life, they’re also reaping a financial reward for their longevity – courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer. These trend…

Torching the Modern-Day Library of Alexandria

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[Who owns knowledge? "Somewhere at Google there is a database containing 25 million books and nobody is allowed to read them." An interesting piece my friend Harry drew to my attention. The photo shows the every-lovely library at Trinity College, Dublin. *RON*]

James Somers, The Atlantic, 20 April 2017

You were going to get one-click access to the full text of nearly every book that’s ever been published. Books still in print you’d have to pay for, but everything else—a collection slated to grow larger than the holdings at the Library of Congress, Harvard, the University of Michigan, at any of the great national libraries of Europe—would have been available for free at terminals that were going to be placed in every local library that wanted one.

At the terminal you were going to be able to search tens of millions of books and read every page of any book you found. You’d be able to highlight passages and make annotations and share them; f…

The Heart of Whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo Interviews Rachel Dolezal, the White Woman Who Identifies as Black

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[On the weirdness of identity politics and life in our times. A follow-up on Rachael Dolezal, the white Spokane woman who passed for a decade as black, headed the local chapter of the NAACP, and has since changed her name to Nkechi Amare Diallo. "For a white woman to imagine herself into a real-life black identity without any lived black experience, to place herself at the forefront of local black society — well, it’s the ultimate 'you can be anything' success story of white America. Another branch of manifest destiny." *RON*]
Ijeoma Oluo, The Stranger, 19 April 2017
I'm sitting across from Rachel Dolezal, and she looks... white. Not a little white, not racially ambiguous. Dolezal looks really, really white. She looks like a white woman with a mild suntan, in box braids—like perhaps she'd just gotten back from a Caribbean vacation and decided to keep the hairstyle for a few days "for fun."

She is also smaller t…

Uber vs AirBnB: do you have to be an asshole to found a brilliant start-up?

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[Ian Leslie discovers how the two companies show Silicon Valley’s split personality. Leslie's answer is 'Perhaps in the short run, but not in the long run.' *RON*]

Ian Leslie, New Statesman, 5 April 2017

The Upstarts tells the intertwined stories of two start-ups that might almost be twins. Uber and Airbnb have both become multibillion-dollar companies in the space of eight years. Both have created virtual marketplaces that blur the lines between consumers, suppliers and employees. Both have encountered staunch resistance from industries they threaten to undermine (hospitality in the case of Airbnb, taxis in the case of Uber) and both have endured high-profile public criticism.

Despite their kinship as businesses, the two brands are perceived very differently. Airbnb feels benign and optimistic, the way we all used to feel about Silicon Valley. Uber is the dark twin, a symbol of rapacious capitalism and dehumanising technology. On read…

An Hour of Running May Add 7 Hours to Your Life

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["...runners tended to live about three additional years, even if they run slowly or sporadically and smoke, drink or are overweight." It would be so interesting to look into this in greater depth. There must be an incredibly dense and complex web of causation and correlation involved in such research. *RON*]

Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times, 12 April 2017

Running may be the single most effective exercise to increase life expectancy, according to a new review and analysis of past research about exercise and premature death. The new study found that, compared to nonrunners, runners tended to live about three additional years, even if they run slowly or sporadically and smoke, drink or are overweight. No other form of exercise that researchers looked at showed comparable impacts on life span.

The findings come as a follow-up to a study done three years ago, in which a group of distinguished exercise scientists scrutinized data from a larg…

French election: Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen to fight for presidency

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[79% turn out: populism brings 'em out of the woodwork. A tight race between the "Who is he?" centrist versus the far-right candidate. See also: Who are Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron? *RON*]

BBC World News, 24 April 2017
Centrist Emmanuel Macron has gone through to the second round of the French election, where he will face far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Mr Macron, a former banker, is seen as a political newcomer - and ran without the backing of an established party.

After topping Sunday's vote, he is now favourite to win the run-off on 7 May.

It is the first time in six decades that neither of France's main left-wing or right-wing parties has had a candidate in the second round.
How tight is the race?

Mr Macron won 23.8% of votes in the first round, while Ms Le Pen took 21.5%. The turnout was high, at almost 79%.

The nearest challengers, centre-right François Fillon and hard-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, fell behind with just ove…