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Netflix, Amazon Video, and Xfinity are accidentally re-creating cable TV

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Since the advent of streaming online video, industry insiders have wondered what impact it would have on the future of television. As more companies move toward launching their own proprietary subscription streaming services, the future hasn’t been entirely decided yet, but new clues are emerging, pointing toward a potentially surprising answer: all this disruptive new media is just gradually re-creating familiar old-media models.

Recently, Comcast announced that it struck a deal to add Amazon Prime Video to the online content available through its Xfinity X1 service. Amazon’s original content will join other services available through Xfinity, including Netflix, YouTube, and Pandora. In a statement, Comcast’s president of consumer...

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freeAgent
5 days ago
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Los Angeles, CA
mrobold
6 days ago
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Orange County, California
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Physicists’ simple spanks economists’ complex in economic growth forecasts

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Enlarge (credit: CreditDebitPro)

Physicists have a reputation for being a bunch of stickybeaks—they will jump into unrelated fields and tell everyone that they are doing it wrong. This reputation is so well deserved that there is even a relevant XKCD. Sometimes, though, it all works out—usually because the physicists stick to their area of expertise, which just happens to be relevant to the problem.

In this case, we are talking about economics. It just so happens that the economy falls into the category of a complex system, which various physicists spend a lot of time playing with.

The paper in question seems to bring together a number of slowly developing concepts in economics. Taken together, and adding a touch of dynamical modeling, their merger leads to better forecasts for gross domestic product (GDP)—and I expect that other economic indicators can be attacked by a similar procedure.

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mrobold
16 days ago
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Orange County, California
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California is heading toward a future with more fires, more floods

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California’s recent temperatures have crushed decades-long records, reaching 120 degrees Fahrenheit in Chino and 111 degrees in LA last month alone.

While the temperatures may have stunned residents, there’s one group that isn’t surprised: climate scientists predicted everything from the blistering heat and blazing fires to the state’s massive power outages more than a decade ago. In recent years, they say, we’ve seen a climate that’s a harbinger of what’s to come for California: an increasingly volatile landscape ridden with worsening floods and wildfires, like the recent Carr fire that destroyed and damaged more than 1,000 homes.

“The trends that we’re seeing — and the predictions that were made — were called three decades ago,” says N...

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mrobold
16 days ago
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Orange County, California
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GOP congressman introduces bill to reinstate net neutrality rules

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In a much-anticipated effort to reinstate net neutrality provisions, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) introduced a bill today that would codify free internet regulations into law. Titled The 21st Century Internet Act, the measure would institute the basic outlines of the Federal Communication Commission’s 2015 Open Internet order, which banned the throttling and blocking of content as well as harmful paid prioritization practices. In an even more surprising move, however, the Republican congressman has signed on to a Democrat-led effort to reinstate the net neutrality rules that the FCC voted to repeal late last year.

Last December, when the FCC called a vote to repeal net neutrality, Coffman was the first Republican to ask the commission to...

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mrobold
32 days ago
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Orange County, California
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The chickens come home to roost, by Scott Sumner

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I don’t know anything about roosting chickens, but I do know a bit about trade theory. Over the past 200 years, debates about trade have occurred on two levels. Academics insist that unilateral free trade is the best options. However the “very serious people” (VSP) who conduct real world trade negotiations act as if open markets are a “concession”. They act as if we were doing other countries a favor by letting them export goods to our market. They view the academic perspective as hopelessly idealistic, even as the VSPs have worked hard to gradually move the world toward the same goal of freer trade, one agreement at a time.

Today it looks like the VSPs who believe in globalization made a big mistake, and that the idealistic approach of unilaterally moving toward freer trade was the better strategy. The VSP approach opened the door to protectionist populists, and Donald Trump walked through.  Protectionists are using the “concessions” myth as an excuse to impose higher tariffs. Other countries then face a difficult choice. If they give in to pressure from Trump, it would just encourage him to make even more demands.

It’s normally the case that one is better off standing up to a bully. When one does so, bullies tend to back off. But it’s not easy to do this without making the problem even worse, without triggering an international trade war.

If countries had done like Singapore and Hong Kong, and adopted a unilateral policy of free trade, then they would not face this quandary. In that case, if the US wants to shoot itself in the foot with trade barriers, it’s free to do so. No point in compounding the problem by also shooting yourself in the foot. Unfortunately, the international trade negotiation establishment is deeply invested in the “concessions” view of trade, and this creates some difficult game theory problems.  If they do the “right thing” (cut tariffs) they look weak and make the populists even more popular.

Sometimes the most idealistic approach is also the most pragmatic.

PS.  As an analogy, I have argued that we should rely 100% on monetary policy to stabilize demand, and not at all on fiscal policy.  This view is widely seen as impractical.  But now the Trump administration and Congress have raised spending and cut taxes to the point where a viable countercyclical fiscal policy is almost impossible.  And yet we never built the sort of robust monetary regime that could provide a stable path for expected NGDP.  So what happens if there is another 2008?

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mrobold
35 days ago
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Orange County, California
freeAgent
35 days ago
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Los Angeles, CA
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In open offices, workers chat 70% less, are less productive, and email more

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Enlarge / Looks like someone has a case of the Mondays. (credit: Getty | Ian Nicholson)

Tearing down walls and cubicles in offices may actually build up more barriers to productivity and collaboration, according to a new study.

Employees at two Fortune 500 multinational companies saw face-to-face interaction time drop by about 70 percent, the use of email increase between 22 percent and 56 percent, and productivity slip after their traditional office spaces were converted to open floor plans—that is, ones without walls or cubicles that ostensibly create barriers to interaction. The findings, published recently in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, suggest that removing physical dividers may, in fact, make it harder for employers to foster collaboration and collective intelligence among their employees.

Many companies have waged a so-called “war on walls” to try to create such vibrant workspaces, the authors Ethan Bernstein and Stephen Turban of Harvard wrote. But, “what they often get—as captured by a steady stream of news articles professing the death of the open office—is an open expanse of proximal employees choosing to isolate themselves as best they can (e.g. by wearing large headphones) while appearing to be as busy as possible (since everyone can see them).”

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mrobold
37 days ago
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THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISSS

Except, is it really email? It seems to me that Slack becomes the engine of never ending distraction.
Orange County, California
MotherHydra
32 days ago
I am “that person” that is never in the channel. Fuck Slack it’s nigh worthless for productivity and, to my sensibilities, akin to information overload. Luckily I’m in a position to say fuck slack and work turns a blind eye.
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MotherHydra
32 days ago
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I’ve witnessed this firsthand and completely agree. How to make people defensive and inward-turning, chapter 1.
Space City, USA
JayM
36 days ago
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Yeah... but the real estate savings!! Just look at all that money saved! Now we can pack in more folks to do the same amount of work as before! ;)
Atlanta, GA
dnorman
37 days ago
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so much, this. our new open environment office area has killed collaboration and organic conversation. big headphones. LED "busy" lights. SSSSSHHHH! (except for the BLAH BLAH loud people passing through from their offices…)
Calgary
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