Blog Ipsa Loquitur

Google is testing a plugin for Gmail that enables end-to-end encryption of emails. If widely adopted, this would make it impossible for Google to data mine the content of your emails to sell targeted ads. I predict this doesn’t catch on.

You could also predict this:

Never trust software anyone else makes. Wash behind your ears. Code your own security tools. Actually, if I could stop being smarmy for half a second, this guy is on the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who actually did code their own system. So, you know, nicely done.

But wait guys how do we know EFF hasn’t received a National Security Let-gunshot

Filed on under The Digital Age

I attended a CLE program last month where one of the speakers engaged in two hours of financial doomsday-ism; the gist was ‘Baby Boomers are retiring, and this country is nothing without its greatest generation’ (not to be confused with The Greatest Generation) driving the economy. The Baby Boomer speaker pointed out that retired workers no longer spend as much, and draw from Social Security rather than contribute to it.

She reasoned that when so many Boomers retire at once, their combined might will destroy the American/World economy. The panel ended before I could be advised to put all my savings in gold bullion or bit coins, but I’m pretty certain that’s where we were going.

Now, from a recent FiveThirtyEight article about the economic impact of the retirement en masse of the Baby Boomers:

Boomers are no longer even the largest age cohort; more of today’s Americans were born in the 1980s and 1990s than in the postwar years.

Oh. Well, they’re still going to put a strain on public finances and everything, but this still doesn’t seem so bad. Maybe the Baby Boomers will just be the generation that was bad at math. After all, have you seen the national debt you guys rung up?

Regardless, I’m sure that the baby boom retirement will be a uniquely American problem that will hamstring our-

…things are worse in much of the world. The U.S. has fewer residents over 65, as a share of its population, than most developed countries, and the disparity will only grow in coming decades.

Huh. You know, I’m beginning to think it’s not so-

Thanks in part to the echo boomers, the dependency ratio will flatten out by about 2030. Not that long thereafter, the oldest of the echo boomers will begin entering their own retirement years, and the cycle will begin anew.

Look, you can cripple our generation by delaying retirement and keeping all the good jobs for yourselves. You can cripple our economy by leaving the publicly-held debt at $12 trillion when you guys start retiring. But come on. Please don’t let this generation be the echo boomers.

Filed on under The News

A great Vox article summarizing the Green Lantern Theory of the presidency:

The Founding Fathers were rebelling against an out-of-control monarch. So they constructed a political system with a powerful legislature and a relatively weak executive. The result is that the US President has little formal power to make Congress do anything. He can’t force Congress to vote on a bill. He can’t force Congress to pass a bill. And even if he vetoes a bill Congress can simply overturn his veto. So in direct confrontations with Congress — and that describes much of American politics these days — the president has few options.

If you’ve ever wondered why the President doesn’t just invade this or repeal that or privatize this or socialize that, you may be part of the Presidential Green Lantern Corps without even knowing it.

Filed on under Irreverently Irrelevant

From a recent Slashdot submission titled “Why Mobile Wallets Are Doomed,” noting the failure of Square Wallet.

…it’s natural to consider loading payment information onto [cell phones] as an alternative to cash or plastic cards. The problem comes when this logical entrepreneurial spirit merges with an industry segment that is classically illogical. The payments system in the United States is a mess of entrenched interests, fragmented business opportunities, old infrastructure (like point-of-sale systems), back room handshakes and cut throat competition.

Look, rent-seeking makes it hard for new entries into the market, and yeah, paying for stuff with my phone is new and shiny and I like doing it. But come on. The collective rent-seeking of an imperfect market is not illogical. It’s completely logical for the incumbents to lock out new competition instead of just giving up when someone has a new app.

Is this what nerds do when our favorite startups fail to disrupt markets? Cry wolves of wall street?

Filed on under The Digital Age

From this TED Talk on whether athletes are really getting more athletic, or whether they’re just getting the benefits of improved technology:

Today, one in 10 men in the NBA is at least seven feet tall, but a seven-foot-tall man is incredibly rare in the general population – so rare that if you know an American man between the ages of 20 and 40 who is at least seven feet tall, there’s a 17 percent chance he’s in the NBA right now.

What’s weird is that the answer to the “human or technology” question seems to be “humans are getting weirder shaped, but overall performance isn’t improving very much.” I do appreciate the NBA’s monopoly on tall men, but my absolute favorite is the increased forearm length of water polo players.

Who even measures these things?

Filed on under Irreverently Irrelevant

Twitter sells itself to investors and advertisers as the place for TV-related advertising. Just about every conversation about a TV show happens on Twitter. Twitter improves Nielsen ratings of shows. A TV show about lepers once brushed the hem of Twitter’s garment, and was rewarded with six seasons and a movie.

Twitter drives ratings. Fact. Except not according to an NBC executive:

“Why wouldn’t I want to say to you, ‘We have a potent new way in which we can drive ratings?’” But “it just isn’t true,” he added. “I am saying the emperor wears no clothes. It is what it is. These are the numbers.”

He was only talking about ratings for the Olympics, but still. If there are lots of tweets about a hashtag for a TV show, are people watching the show to keep up with the hashtag, or are people tweeting about a show they were already watching?

The only hashtag worth keeping up with is #sowhiteoutside, anyway; it’s only a matter of time until NBC airs a show based on that.

Filed on under The Digital Age