Quote of the day #99

“There’s poison in the hearts of cheerless men.”

Mark Oliver Everett
Picture taken from the official Eels website

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The WTF? way of looking at the future

You can earn a living by cleaning people’s houses – unless it happens to be the house you live in yourself. You can make money by taking care of children – unless they happen to be your own. You can get paid for garden work – unless it’s in your own garden.

But that’s just the way our society is organized: some of the work done by some people is considered to be a job, which gets rewarded with money, other work done by other people is not. Is that a good way? Is that a fair way? An increasing number of people are asking these questions. In his book WTF – What’s The Future and Why It’s up To Us Tim O’Reilly is dealing with this theme, along with a lot of other topics that are related to the way we have come to organize our society, and what might be the possible and/or desirable future for it. (Amazing, wonderful book: buy it, borrow it, whatever, but read it and then give it a 5-star review- actually: they should come up with 6-star reviews for books like this one.)

Also the idea of an unconditional  (or universal) basic income (UBI) is mentioned, especially in the context that there simply might, in the relative near future, not be enough jobs for everyone who wants to Continue reading

Quote of the day #98

“I’m a successful capitalist, but I’m tired of hearing that people like me create jobs. There’s only one thing that creates jobs, and that’s customers. And we’ve been screwing workers so long that they can no longer afford to be our customers.”

Tim O’Reilly summarizing a TED talk
by Nick Hanauer (recommended view!)
in his book WTF (recommended read!)

Song of the day: Deee-Lite – Groove Is In The Heart

For the fans of the 90s: one of the songs that inevitably causes me to start moving (the initial move obviously being turning up the volume). The New York based band Deee-Lite released a couple of albums in the first half of the 90s, but will mainly be remembered as a one hit wonder, because of this gorgeous Groove Is In The Heart. Ah, well, better a one hit wonder than a no hit disaster.

Doctors defined from economic point of view

Doctors are women and men who have studied years and years, gathering the best knowledge available to help you solve health issues whenever those arrive, right? Well, yes of course that is a good definition (and I’m absolutely thrilled that they are there and do just that), but it does not cover all possible angles.

Let’s for example try to come up with addtional definitions for some subcategories of the medical profession, from an economic perspective:

  • medical specialist: someone who will only make some decent money if whatever is wrong with you is caused by something related to her/his specialty
  • surgeon: someone who only makes money if (s)he can cut you open
  • plastic surgeon: someone who stops earning money when you look perfect
  • psychiatrist: someone who stops earning money the minute (s)he utters the words “There is nothing wrong with you.”
  • general practitioner: someone who will only keep earning money from you if (s)he consistently provides you with the correct diagnosis

OK, admittedly that’s all a bit over the top (except for the last one), but still it can be a very useful dimension to keep in mind when seeking medical advice.

Just asking #4: Translating metric units

Some countries mainly have dubbing or voice-over for movies and TV shows (Germany and France to name a few obvious examples), in others subtitles are being used. The latter is true for the Dutch speaking part of Belgium – where I often spend some time watching subtitled video content. [For those who have ever wondered why more or less everyone in the Dutch speaking area is quite fluent in English: exposure to video content in English with subtitles in Dutch is definitely a key element.] And what has always puzzled me is the way some English or American metric units of distance are being translated into Dutch subtitles.

You have to realize that 2 ‘levels’ of translation are happening when creating that particular bit of subtitles: at the first level, the words are translated, but for the metric unit there is an additional layer of translation as the anglo-saxon metric unit needs to be converted into the international one. I completely agree that in an sentence such as “The top speed of this car is 154 mph”, the translation of the speed should be “248 km/h”. But what about “The next town is 20 miles down the road”. Should the 20 become “32,2 km” (as I’ve already seen in actual subtitles)? Or should it be “32 km”? Or simply “30 km”? To me the last option definitely seems to be the most natural one – and certainly the one that best captures the underlying meaning of the original phrase, as that was most probably not meant to mean “exactly 20 miles, not 19,9 or 21,1”, but rather “something roughly in the neighbourhood of 20 miles”. So is 20 miles 32,2 km or 30 km? Just asking…