Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

One-hundred thirty-one years ago, on January 8, 1889, Herman Hollerith, a young man born to German immigrants in New York City, himself a graduate of Columbia University as an “Engineer of Mines, was granted a patent, part of which read as follows: The herein-described method of compiling statistics, which consists in recording separate statistical items […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. When We Retreat from Progress: Nuclear Power Edition

 

Nuclear Power PlantThere’s a special word — such an important word — right in the final paragraph of the new NBER working paper “The Private and External Costs of Germany’s Nuclear Phase-Out” by Stephen Jarvis, Olivier Deschenes, and Akshaya Jha: “Trade-off.”

Yup, trade-offs exist. And their reality is something that policy activists tend to ignore, but policymakers must eventually confront. No such thing as a free lunch. No something for nothing. Here’s the nuclear power trade-off identified by those researchers:

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Windows 10 Upgrade from Hell

 

I emerged from my workshop about 6 p.m. yesterday and pressed the power button on my laptop. A blank screen appeared, and the word “HI” in 36-point type appeared in the middle. It sat there for a moment, then spelled out “We have some updates for you.” “Do not turn off your computer” appeared at the bottom in a smaller size of the same font, and the message in the middle of the screen morphed into “This may take a few minutes.”

The font didn’t look like Windows, and I stared at a while wondering if I had a virus. The screen color slowly changed. Four minutes later the screen cleared, and “HI” appeared in the center again. It went through the whole sequence a second time, this time sitting on the final screen for almost half an hour, with no action other than the color change. Then, “It’s taking longer than we thought” appeared. I left it alone for two hours.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday. More

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

I was rummaging around my basement looking for something (I forgot on the way downstairs), when I found this old dinosaur of mine: More

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Our Precarious Pipeline Infrastructure

 

The United States Supreme Court recently agreed to hear United States Forest Service v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association. In that case, the Fourth Circuit, speaking through Judge Stephanie Thacker, found multiple reasons to block the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (Atlantic) from building, operating, and maintaining its 42-inch diameter natural gas pipeline.

That (ACL) pipeline, capable of transporting 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day, would run along a 604.5-mile route from West Virginia to eastern portions of Virginia and North Carolina. It would have to be routed underneath the Appalachian Trail, a hiking trail that runs about 2,000 miles from Mount Katahdin, Maine, to Springer Mountain, Georgia. Like all pipelines, some portion of the ACP will have to be built over treacherous terrain, carrying with it two inescapable environmental risks—damage during construction, and rupture and leakage during operation.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. How AI Is Like That Other General Purpose Technology: Electricity

 

Do we live in a time of rapid, sweeping technological change or one of persistent, maddening stagnation? Even as politicians and pundits warn about robots stealing all the jobs, economic statistics show weak productivity growth. So perhaps a paradox similar to the 1980s when economist Robert Solow famously said, “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

Then the 1990s happened and so did an information technology revolution and productivity boom, finally. One takeaway from that experience is that it can take considerable time to fully understand and harness new technologies so that measured productivity increases. And that’s not just the case with advanced tech such as incorporating artificial intelligence into a business. For example: The first barcode scan took place in the mid-1970s, but it took 30 years for organizations throughout the manufacturing-retail supply chain to make needed investments in “complementary technological, organisational, and process change,” as explained in “Upstream, Downstream: Diffusion and Impacts of the Universal Product Code” by Emek Basker and Timothy Simcoe.

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I’ve been a desktop computer fangirl for a very long time, with an ergonomic keyboard and wireless mouse to make long work sessions comfortable. I never wanted a laptop as long as I had an iPad and could borrow hubby’s laptop when needed. But times change, and now we are empty nesters splitting our time between […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. If the Rate of Scientific Progress Is Slowing, America Must Step Up Its Game

 

The linkage between science and technological progress may seem obvious. When humanity didn’t have much of the latter, it also didn’t know much of the former. Economic historian Joel Mokyr describes the time before the Industrial Revolution as “a world of engineering without mechanics, iron-making without metallurgy, farming without soil science, mining without geology, water-power without hydraulics, dye-making without organic chemistry, and medical practice without microbiology and immunology.”

And even during the early stages of the Industrial Revolution, great advances were made in some sectors with little scientific understanding. As the IR rolled on, however, Mokyr describes an emergent division of labor where “British practical people discovered things that worked, and French theoreticians and German chemists uncovered the underlying science.” Today, there’s no doubt that continuing technological breakthroughs, invention, and innovation — and thus long-term economic growth — depend on scientific insights. Keep ‘em coming, ASAP. It would sure be worrisome if the rate of discovery slowed.

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Some time ago I posted about carbon emissions caused by e-cars due to the fossil fuels used to generate electricity for them. I just wanted to post an update/revision on that. I said that e-cars cause the emission of about as much carbon dioxide as a conventional car that gets 27 miles to the gallon. […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. It’s Too Late in Campaign Season for Facebook to Ban Political Ads, but Not Fact-Check Them

 

Facebook has instituted fact-checking before, like with its partner BOOM in India.
There are some famous natural experiments out there, such as the Dutch Hunger Winter study or the Oregon Health Insurance study. Or how about that nighttime satellite photo of North and South Korea showing the benefits of democratic capitalism vs. totalitarian communism. That may be the most famous and instructive natural experiment of all.

Silicon Valley may be giving us another enlightening comparison. Twitter is banning all political advertising, while Facebook will continue to run such ads — even those containing false or misleading claims. We should get a first read on the results on either the evening of Nov. 3 or the morning of Nov. 4, 2020.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Nixing Huawei

 

The Trump administration has announced that it will move to prevent federal tax money already earmarked for rural 5G high-speed wireless services from being spent on equipment from the Chinese company Huawei.

I advocate free trade, and see trade restrictions as a tool that should be used sparingly, deliberately, and as briefly as practical.

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I would like to discuss the NTSB’s recently released report concerning the past year’s crashes of 737 MAX airliners. Oh, wait, before that, but on the subject of minimal qualification, I would like to suggest that on Ricochet a subscriber’s default bio, the one which is displayed unless he changes it and which cannot simply […]

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I’m always torn when a major upgrade to any software I use comes out. Sometimes the update alters the way programs or features I use look or act, and I don’t like it (one reason I still use Microsoft Office 2003). Then the upgrade either doesn’t allow me to revert back to the previous version, or […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Now the Power Company is Judging Me

 

As an adult, you begin to understand more about some of the rules that your parents enforced. For example, when you flipped the wall switch, the lights came on. I knew not to leave the light on when I left the room, because my parents had to pay for the power that made the light come on. We children were tasked with not wasting electricity, because I knew that we paid money for it, so shutting off the light when you left the room was the rule.

But, not one time do I recall hearing my parents fuss about anything to do with this utility, except for whatever money they were required to pay to maintain the service.

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America get a kick out of watching Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren battle over whether the government ought to break up big tech. With little appetite for Warren’s big government intrusion or Zuckerberg’s pathetic efforts to protect user privacy and free speech, […]

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Member Post

 

We live in an age of information overload (however muddled by misinformation). With each decade, the potential for individual persons to learn about distant things improves. Books, radio, telephones, automobiles, television, internet, and many other innovations combine to provide access to pictures, stories, and people around planet Earth. Among the most recent technological advances are […]

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Member Post

 

What does it mean when a business gets a website, then gives up on it and steers all inquiries to its Facebook page? I don’t know. After years of bicycling past Big Dog Neon, I decided to find out more about the enterprise. I did not, or rather I declined to. I am not joining […]

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Member Post

 

Keeps me employed! Well, busy. Also, I don’t much mind if the answers are things I may never know. All the same, it would be nice to get confirmation or disproof of my idea about the Venona-Project-identified moles being intentionally allowed to pass on information so bulky and so ambiguous as to be confusing. I […]

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