The solution, regardless of the cause

My friend Eddie (of Hidden Unities) sent me “The Long-Term Effects of Africa’s Slave Trades,” a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, by Nathan Nunn (pdf download). In the paper Nunn finds a correlation between a region’s loss of slaves in the Atlantic Ocean, Sahara Desert, Red Sea, and Indian Ocean slave trades and present levels of misery.

Certainly one explanation is that Africa’s misery is the result of the slave trade. Indeed, that conclusion is the title of Nunn’s paper. Another is that regions that are so capital-starved and economically-screwy that they export a substantial fraction of their work force probably will remain capital-starved and economically-screwy.

Whatever the course — slavery, anti-state guerrillaism, or just low general intelligence, the moral of the story is the hard part of shrinking the Gap is ahead of us. Building up a Military-Industrial-Complex and waiting seems to have been enough to globalize eastern Europe and eastern Asia,

However, when it comes to the hard part of globalization — hookin up the Muslim world and especailly Africa — are record is not so good. The world lost the highest-functioning indigienous Systems Administration forces it had in those areas — French Algeria and South Africa — while the Empires of Japan, France, and Britain – which did so much good for so many — were disolved in the wake of World War II.

This is why building a Sysadmin Industrial Complex, as we are currently doing in the United States, is so vital. It’s not fair that merely leaving the deepest parts of the Gap alone will actually help end misery. We need to do more. A Sysadmin Industrial Complex of the military, Congress, and private contractors — resting on and supported by the people — is the only institutional way to move shrinking the gap beyond politics and to results.

The Abolition of Linguistic Ghettos

Wilford, J.N. (2007). Languages die, but not their last words. New York Times. September 19, 2007. Available online: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/19/science/19language.html?hp.

While focusing on antiquarian relics, the article points to good news: globalization is reducing the number of widely spoken languages.

Languages are not unique creatures with rights of their own, but tools used by people to know the world, provide for their families, and live life. The power of languages — like the power of most platforms — is proportional to the number of people who speak it. When a language’s speakers abandon their traditional tongue and embrace a more popular method of communication — like the rise of German over Low German or Mandarin over Manchu — both peoples benefit.

Denied! Part II: The Role of University of Nebraska – Lincoln

I know the bureaucrat who screwed up my wife’s chances at getting a temporary work visa. She works at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. And the school’s offer to help is beyond insulting.


DHS: Not their Fault?

Those who read Part I recall that Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services rejects, without the ability to appeal, my wife’s temporary work application because she already graduated. (She, of course, is still in school, so we don’t even have the luxury of a true-but-absurd reason but denial.)

Because we were applying for the work permit as part of “OPT” (the Optional Practical Training that’s at the tail-end of a student visa), one of the forms had to be completed and signed by a school official. That is, the information on the form does not come from the student but from the academic institution (which, presumably, is more used to American laws, more competent, etc.). It is one this form that this particular official wrote the impossible graduation date of July. This bureaucrat provided Homeland Security with false information, which lead to the denial.


The Result of UNL’s Incompetence

But of course, realizing their mistake, the University rushes to correct it? Of course not!

We were able to fix the dates on your I-20 however you will either have to file a motion to re-open or to reapply for the OPT which both cost about the same and take about the same amount of time. Please let us know what you would like to do.

So we are offered the pleasure of spending several hundred dollars to fix their mistake.

Considering that it takes two months to process the permit, and we are about two months from the probable interview date for Permanent Residency (Advanced Parole), we won’t go through the process again. So we’re left with official incompetence and some bitterness.

But at least we know the bureaucrat’s name.

Two-sigma and Six-sigma solutions

ERMB‘s recent article on two-sigma solutions deserves a look, as well as a short discussion the whole “sigma” model generally.

Sigma, from a symbol for standard deviation, is a way of talking about variability. In business speak, low variability is high quality and high variablility is low quality. Therefore, when someone talks about a six sigma solution, they want to see something with that doesn’t change much from one time or place to another. Likewise, when someone speaks about a two sigma solution, they are saying that it is ok if there’s more chaos in the system.

Six sigma, like the zip code, is a way to copeting with the dumbing down of available labor. Or, put more politely, a way of surviving as a business in spite of the ever increasing cost of workers. As real incomes have skyrocketed around the world in the past few centuries — now surpassing the real income of cavemen for the first time in 10,000 years — it’s harder and harder to find good workers. Once upon a time, you could simply fire a farmhand, leading to the starvation of his family and his extinction from the gene pool. Now workers not only get a 2,000 calorie diet, they get health care, vacations, and even internet for use during breaks (sometimes).

By reducing the worker’s freedom of action, six sigma gets around pushy know-it-all workers by letting them be replaced by know-it-less workers. This can be done directly, through scientific management, or indirectly, like when the zip code ended the need of postmaster’s to memorize complicated train schedules.

While “six sigma” is sometimes used as a synonym for “high quality,” this is only true in the businespeak meaning of “quality” as “lack of variation.” Through much of the Gap, intelligences are far, far below globalized levels, and six-sigma solutions will be vital to many mission-critical operations. (The alternative is trusting the locals!) On the other hand, many things are not missino critical, and it will be wise to allow “two sigma” solutions (loyalty militias instead of national security courts, etc.) because getting the job done at all is more important than assuring it is done in a hygenic, globalized, or even humane manner.

In shrinking the gap, the focus is not on quality-as-variability but quality-as-progress.

The Good and Bad of the New Hillarycare

Good:

The former first lady says she has learned from the 1990s experience, which almost derailed Bill Clinton’s presidency and helped put Republicans in control of Congress for years to come. Aides say she has jettisoned the complexity and uncertainty of the last effort in favor of a plan that stresses simplicity, cost control and consumer choice.

The centerpiece of Clinton’s plan is the so-called “individual mandate,” requiring everyone to have health insurance — just as most states require drivers to purchase auto insurance. Rival John Edwards has also offered a plan that includes an individual mandate, while the proposal outlined by Barack Obama does not.

Bad:

Clinton’s plan builds on the existing employer-based system of coverage. People who receive insurance through the workplace could continue to do so; businesses, in turn, would be required to offer insurance to employees, or contribute to a government-run pool that would help pay for those not covered. Clinton would also offer a tax subsidy to small businesses to help them afford the cost of providing coverage to their workers.

Of all the candidates, Rudy Giuliani seems to have the best health care plan for the moment.

Our goal, of course, is to be #1, over all factors, of course

The factors of production:

In economics, factors of production are resources used in the production of goods and services…

* Land or natural resource – naturally-occurring goods such as soil and minerals that are used in the creation of products. The land or resource need not be on Earth (nor any other planet) as in the future land will include moons (beginning with mining Helium-3 from Luna, for example) and asteroids, and other obtainment of materials in space. The payment for the use of land owned by another is Economic rent.
* Labour – human effort used in production which also includes technical and marketing expertise. The payment for labour (workforce) is a wage or a salary. Wage can be either in nominal value or in real value. Usually the salary or wage are marked as “w”.
* Capital – either the prior-produced production goods (business capital, or real capital) that are physically used by businesses to produce other goods, or the funding (financial capital) that is provided by investors to businesses so as to pay the previous producers for those production goods. The return on business capital is profits, part of which may be retained and the rest paid in dividends. The return to financial capital depends on the legal and economic form it takes, where the return on equity capital is the dividends received and the return on debt capital is interest. Capital gains upon investments in equity (from stock value increases) or debt (from bond value increases) are not factor incomes as they are not payments for any additional provision of capital but come from a change in others’ opinions about the value of the existing capital and its arrangement.

List of countries by total area

  1. Russia 17,000,000 square kilometers
  2. Canada 10,000,000 square kilometers
  3. People’s Republic of China 9,600,000 square kilometers
  4. United States of America 9,600,000 square kilometers
  5. Brazil 8,500,000 square kilometers

List of countries by population

  1. People’s Republic of China: 1,300,000,000 people
  2. India 1,200,000,000 people
  3. European Union 490,000,000 people
  4. United States of America 300,000,000 people
  5. Indonesia: 230,000,000 people

List of countries by GDP (nominal)

  1. European Union 15,000,000 million dollars
  2. United States of America 13,000,000 million dollars
  3. Japan 4,400,000 million dollars
  4. Germany 2,900,000 million dollars
  5. People’s Republic of China 2,600,000

When different policies are proposed, one question that should be asked is “Does this help shrink the gap?” Another is, “Does this help America’s power?”

Another reason to like Rudy Giuliani

Hay, P. (2007). Hillary slayer. The American Spectator. September 17, 2007. Available online: http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=12030 (from Real Clear Politics).

HIllary Clinton is my prefered nominee out of the major Democratic candidates — she is a good politician — but she should not be President.

Rudy may be the Republican to stop her:

Last week, all Republican politicians worth their weight came out blasting MoveOn.org for taking out a full-page ad in the New York Times smearing Gen. David Petraeus on the day he was scheduled to deliver his Iraq progress report to Congress. The outrage among conservatives only grew as leading Democrats failed to condemn the ad, Hillary Clinton questioned the general’s honesty, and it was disclosed that the far left group was given a drastically reduced advertising rate in the New York Times.

But while other Republicans complained, Rudy Giuliani did something about it. Speaking to reporters in Atlanta on Thursday, Giuliani demanded that the New York Times give his campaign the same discounted rate so it could take out an ad defending Gen. Petraeus and assailing Clinton and MoveOn.org for “character assassination of an American general in a time of war.” He also called on the paper to run the ad at the time of his choosing (Friday, the day after President Bush’s primetime address to the nation).

As demoralized conservatives begin to fear that another Clinton presidency is inevitable, this episode demonstrates that Giuliani may represent the Republicans’ best shot at defeating Hillary in next year’s election.

Throughout his career, Giuliani has excelled at relentlessly pursuing opponents, whether in the courtroom or political arena. As a young prosecutor in the 1970s, before he became a celebrity for taking on the mob, he gained notice for his successful prosecution of Democratic Congressman Bertram L. Podell in a bribery trial. The New York Times magazine recounted the dramatic conclusion in a 1985 profile: “Under Giuliani’s intense cross-examination, Podell faltered, became so nervous he poked out his eyeglass lens, asked for a recess and gave up, pleading guilty.”

While it is popular for conservatives to lament the existence of the liberal media, Giuliani understands that it is a reality. Rather than belly-ache about it, or, as the Bush administration often has done, ignore attacks by assuming people aren’t paying attention and they will go away, Giuliani understands that conservatives need to simply be better at using the media to their advantage, as he did when he fought entrenched liberal interest groups as mayor.

“If I run against Hillary Clinton, I’m perfectly prepared to carry this battle, not expecting that the New York Times or the major networks…are going to give us anywhere the same kind of favorable coverage they will give her,” Giuliani told Hugh Hewitt last week. “I’m a realist, I’m not saying that in any way where I have a chip on my shoulder. I’ve lived with this all during the time I was mayor of New York City. The reality is we just have to be better at communicating.”

Agreed. We — Republicans, Americans — need a speaker and a fighter. Rudy fits the bill.

Bare Knuckled Economics

Hard not be be impressed with Alan Greenspan’s thinking:

Education reform will take years, and we need to address increasing income inequality now. Increasing taxes on the rich, a seemingly simple remedy, is likely to prove counterproductive to economic growth. But by opening our borders to large numbers of highly skilled immigrant workers, we would both enhance the skill level of the overall workforce and provide a new source of competition for higher-earning employees, thus driving down their wages. The popular acceptance of capitalist practice in the United States will likely rest on these seemingly quite doable reforms.

Of course, brain draining other countries by importing the best workers probably will increase income inequality in the long term, all other things being equal, because a country with a higher average general intelligence grows faster and, thus, creates inequality faster. Still, when a country is rich it can afford luxuries such as public goods, universal health care, etc.

ESPN College GameDay at the University of Nebraska Memorial Stadium

ESPN College GameDay is the definitive college football on TV. Every week, the crew (most familiar to me from NCAA Football ’07, heh). And today, as the #1 University of Southern California Trojans come to Memorial Stadium in Lincoln to play our Nebraska Cornhuskers, they are now familiar from HuskerVision, as well.


ESPN College GameDay on College Game Day

The taping of the show was great fun, if crowded. The action spilled onto Tom Osborne field, and featured cheerleaders, a wrestling match between Lil Red and Herbie Husker, and of course fans…


ESPN @ Nebraska

A surprising number of Los Angelinos braved the Nebraska cheer and the Sea of Red to fly their treasonous flags in our home.


USC: Against the world. Against Nebraska.

But the fun couldn’t last forver. Soon it was off for a walk around campus, and of course breakfast.


The Don L. Love Library

Go Big Red!