Winnowing MMXXI

by reestheskin on 25/03/2021

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But what a business model

Marcel Proust quote: For each illness that doctors cure with medicine, they provoke…

For each illness that doctors cure with medicine, they provoke ten in healthy people by inoculating them with the virus that is a thousand times more powerful than any microbe: the idea that one is ill.

Marcel Proust

Crony capitalism (ad nauseam)

Another terrific post from Scott Galloway.

I’m Not Done Yet! | No Mercy / No Malice

The capital structure of private firms is meant to balance upside and downside. CNBC/Trump want to protect current equity holders at the expense of future generations with rescue packages that explode the deficit. They also want to protect airlines, who spent $45 billion on buybacks and now want a $54 billion bailout, disincentivizing other firms (e.g., Berkshire Hathaway) that have built huge cash piles foregoing current returns. [Ed. note: Airlines ultimately received approximately $50 billion.]

The rescue package should protect people, not businesses. From 2017 to 2019, the CEOs of Delta, American, United, and Carnival Cruises earned over $150 million in compensation. But, now … “We’re in this together” (i.e., “bail our asses out”).

He goes on:

Since 2000, U.S. airlines have declared bankruptcy 66 times. Despite the obvious vulnerability of the sector, boards/CEOs of the six largest airlines have spent 96 percent of their free cash flow on share buybacks, bolstering the share price and compensation of management … who now want a bailout. They should be allowed to fail. Bondholders will own the firms. Ships and planes will continue to float and fly, and there will still be a steel tube with recirculated air waiting for you post-molestation by Roy from TSA.

A rationale for the dismal science

Patrick Collison has a Few Questions for Tyler (Ep. 21 — Live at Stripe) | by Mercatus Center | Conversations with Tyler | Medium

TYLER COWEN: Frank Knight once said something wise, maybe overstated, but he said, “The main function of economics was to offset the stupid theorizing of other people.” So it’s very useful as a form of discipline. And economics is a way of thinking — it’s very useful for inoculating you against other kinds of mistakes, even though in some ways, it may be a mistake itself.

Outsourcing student learning

Chegg: a $12 billion headache for academic integrity? | Times Higher Education (THE)

Chegg is a site that provides different types of educational material. But it also has a facility that allows students to fire off a question and get an answer within…well, the timeframe of some online exams.

Cath Ellis, associate dean (education) in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at UNSW Sydney, agreed. While the site was not a typical essay mill – where students pay for someone else to write an essay for them – it “falls squarely into what we have referred to in our research as a ‘place where students outsource their learning’” [emphasis added].

A deeper problem, IMHO, is the impersonal nature of higher education, and the lack of knowledge by the faculty of student achievement.

We travelled so far we hit our start point.

Half a dozen little 2021 predictions about life after COVID-19 | I, Cringely

The pandemic of 1918 was ended by social distancing, hand washing, and face masks. The fact that we forgot at first the importance of face masks shows just how far beyond the Spanish Flu we were able to get in 100 years — far enough to forget how to save our own lives. The current pandemic is receding thanks to social distancing, hand washing, face masks, and vaccines. Vaccines are the technology that wasn’t available in 1918 and are what will keep our total death rate below 1918’s 0.65 percent. By the way, 0.65 percent of 331 million would be 2,151,500 deaths. If we can get out of this thing with only the loss of, say, 900,000 people (that’s my guess) then vaccines will have saved 1.25 million lives.