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Thursday, July 7th, 2022

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Visualizing Framerate Differences for Stop Motion Animation (youtube.com)


7/7/2022 7:19 am | |
Tags: animation

Boris Johnson Resigned

It says quite a bit about your tenure as Prime Minister when "Good Riddance" is trending on Twitter after you resign. He has resigned, saying he will remain only until his party selects a new leader.

Here are a few links from around the web:

7/7/2022 7:25 am | |
Tags: uk politics, boris johnson, prime minister

FaZe Clan is Going Public (wired.com 🗝️)

The Esports organization is looking to go public later this year.

7/7/2022 7:27 am | |
Tags: esports, finance, nasdaq

Out walking her dogs, she found an Olympic gold medal on the ground (washingtonpost.com 🗝️)

Maria Carrillo stepped outside the back door of her office to walk her two dogs one evening when she noticed a plastic fast-food bag had been dumped on her property.

Carrillo put the medal around her neck to see what it would feel like to wear Olympic gold, she said. But it never crossed her mind to keep it.

[...]

“I came to this country from Mexico 30 years ago and cleaned houses to earn enough money to start my own business,” she said. “I know what it is like to work hard to achieve a dream. The person who lost this medal deserved to have it back.”

[...]

Police checked their files and told the couple that the gold medal belonged to Jordyn Poulter, the starting setter of the 2020 U.S. Women’s Volleyball Team. On May 25, she had reported it stolen from her car while it was parked in her garage in Anaheim.

The moral of this story is two-fold: Always do the right thing. And, don't leave an Olympic Gold Medal in your car, even if it is in your garage.

7/7/2022 7:31 am | |
Tags: olympics

When Giving People Money Isn't Enough

An acquaintance of mine, Zvi Mowshowitz, wrote a long post looking at a recent study that gave people around Chicago $500, $2000 or nothing, and compared the economic impacts for them. The results were fairly surprising in that it showed an overall negative impact.

The small size of the grants makes it very difficult to say that there is something structurally different going on in these two situations. It is highly plausible that in Chicago $2,000 simply wasn’t enough money to escape the poverty trap and allow investment, whereas $1,000 in Kenya often was enough. The PPP gap alone makes the grants in Kenya functionally bigger.

It is also quite plausible that financial engineering and the nature of debt makes a big difference here. It’s also less concentrated giving, so the recipients can’t serve as customers for each other, the people around you still have needs that fall upon you and there is no cultural expectation that you must ‘make something of’ this opportunity.

There is comparison with a study done in Kenya which gave people $1,000:

Comparing this grant to the one in Kenya by GiveWell, in Kenya the typical grant is $1,000, and median monthly income is $76, so that’s a little over a year’s income. The median income in Chicago is about $34,000, so $2,000 is good for about three weeks for the median earner, although the paper says it was actually more like two months. This was a poor group. I am still skeptical this is the right comparison, as the earnings in this group sound pretty depressed from normal.

One of the Chicago participants even responded to someone on Twitter and noted they were personally surprised by how not-impactful the $2000 ended up feeling, and in fact that they felt guilt over getting it.

As Zvi is giving his own analysis at the end he shared what was sticking out to him:

The thing that I couldn’t stop thinking about was the idea that getting resources increased scarcity because people ‘became more aware of all the needs they cannot address.’

This is an interesting insight which matches up with something I recently read about why Americans tend to be more unhappy, despite having (in general) more security (less likely to die of starvation, being housed, etc.) in life than those in many other countries. And the reason the author (whom I cannot remember or find at the moment) said was that it was because having that security meant we had come to focus on the intangible concerns in our lives. We became more focused on fear of events that could-be rather than events that are transpiring.

Zvi touches on the same thought:

This explains why people think things are so much worse in America today than ever, along dimensions where this plainly isn’t true. But it is true if you only consider the problem to be the gap between reality and expectations, or alternatively the gap between reality and what is considered acceptable.

The same things at work in the study and about happiness are, I believe, the things which drive the capitalist climb. As we make more money, we become aware of opportunities to spend it and "upgrade" our lives, which we now strive for and can (hopefully) attain. But in attaining them we now want more and to reach higher, etc.

My point is not to undercut or say I'm against UBI concepts. I think the study here shows that one time payments don't work as a tool for getting people out of poverty unless they are of significant size (perhaps on the scale of the Kenya study, a year's income) but even then - capitalism is a slippery slope and it is very easy to misappropriate the windfall for things which seem to be needed vs. what is actually needed.

The 2020 US Median income was $67,000. What would you do with it if you received it in a lump sum?

For me, someone who is thankfully in a decent position economically. I'd probably use it to pay off debt first off. My car, credit cards, etc. To pull numbers out of the air, let's say that leaves me with $40,000. The rational choice is to address other needs, health wise? Home repair? Etc. At what point do I save it, or even invest it? I could use a new computer... there's some larger house work that my wife and I want to do. The smart thing would be to invest it.

But, again, this is for me. I'm not fighting out of poverty. I have debt, but it is manageable and is not a looming threat.

So, then is the choice to make these larger contributions, but to mandate on how they can be spent? What if you had the $67,000 but it was mandated to only be spent on housing, debt relief, food, etc? Based on this study, I suspect that would cause a new level of awareness the other areas in your life that have needs. I've got this chunk of money, but I can't use it to pay for new clothes needed for an interview, etc.

Ultimately, it's a surprising result from the study, and it doesn't say that these payments are bad - it seems to say they are bad as a vehicle to create lasting change in the majority of participants.

Zvi's wrap up:

Mostly I conclude that small one-time transfers are likely to get offset due to a combination of poverty traps, including perception of need but centrally hyperbolic discounting. When you give a one-time payment or even simply have money in the bank at all, most cultural norms involve acting richer than you are, and heavy pressure to spend, usually not efficiently. There isn’t proper appreciation for how much that money will be worth to you when things get tough again, but then again that is only valuable to you to the extent you can resist the pressures to spend. Part of the trap is that once you’re in the trap trying and failing to get out of it doesn’t help you much, so traits that would help in abundance don’t have a hill they can climb.

Thus, one wants to focus on either giving people money continuously, in ways that don’t create a false wealth effect that causes overspending, or to give them enough at once to outright escape the trap. Either way seems plausible.

7/7/2022 8:09 am | |
Tags: universal basic income, economics

The Alchemy of Deposits (bam.kalzumeus.com)

Patrick McKenzie works for Stripe (the payment processor). He wrote an excellent post about what actually happens when you make a bank deposit.

The most basic product offered by banks is also one of the least understood. You’ve depended on its orderly operation your entire life. It runs society at microeconomic and macroeconomic levels. It required hundreds of years of trial and error, plus an edifice some would describe as the world’s largest conspiracy theory that is actually true, to make it safe enough to bet society on.

[...]

Let’s start dissecting this transaction. You don’t deposit a $20 bill. You purchase a $20 deposit, coincidentally using a piece of paper with the same number on it. The deposit is a liability (a debt) of the bank to you. The bill which you gave the bank in return for the deposit is now theirs, the same as if you had bought a cup of coffee from Starbucks. On their balance sheet, it is now an asset.

7/7/2022 10:13 am | |
Tags: banking, money, finance

Technology Videos for Elders

Yesterday we bought a new iPad for my mother-in-law and she loves it, but she is also completely new to the iOS ecosystem. She's had a Macbook air as her laptop for a few years, so she understands some of the base things about Macs and the Internet, but the paradigm shift from her laptop to the iPad has thrown her for a bit of a loop.

So, over the past 18-ish hours I've been teaching her how to use it. Explaining when to use an app and when she will need to go online to find things out, etc. How to handle unexpected behaviors and notifications, etc.

This only reinforces for me that we need a good education service for the elders of the world to help them engage and understand new technologies, both in the very literal sense (how to use an iPad) but also in the more philosophical sense (Why would I use the iPad).

We did get what appears to be an excellent 'Dummies' book for the iPad directly aimed at seniors, but I worry how quickly it will become outdated as a resource for her.

7/7/2022 10:45 am | |
Tags: technology, education

PHPDesktop (github.com)

A framework that allows you to use PHP for developing desktop apps. As PHP is my primary coding language these days, I am definitely going to have to give this a look. I don't have a project I want to dive into with it right now, but I'm sure something will come.

7/7/2022 12:14 pm | |
Tags: programming, php

Former prime minister Shinzo Abe attacked in Nara (japantimes.co.jp)

7/7/2022 8:08 pm | |
Tags: japan

I was thinking about how cool the future is going to be once we figure out the kinks in the internet of things and smarthome devices. Imagine your house's entire electrical grid being on a smart system. You could wire switches to particular outlets or circuits in the home. No more horribly plased switches which only made sense in the early homeowner fog. Imagine being able to easily rewire outlets, switches, timers, etc.

Of course there is a big security issue with this idea, but it's a fun idea.

7/7/2022 11:35 pm | |
Tags: internet of things, smart home, internet of things

Galaxy Watch 5 first official pics (91mobiles.com)

I shouldn't be surprised, considering the discount I got for my Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, but I am somewhat annoyed and amused that 9 days after I got my watch, they drop official images of the Galaxy Watch 5. You're welcome world. I took the bullet so you all may celebrate.

7/7/2022 11:37 pm | |
Tags: android, smart watch, samsung

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