What better way to bring in the New Year than to remember that we live at time that doesn’t deserve much complaint! Andres Martinez analyzes our culture of whining. Auld Lang Syne:
The “good old days” are a figment of our imagination. Life – here, there, everywhere – has never been better than it is today…So why do we whine and complain endlessly as if we live in the worst of times? The answer is: Our success allows us to constantly update our expectations. When my flight is three hours late and the Wi-Fi is busted, I couldn’t care less what it took to cross the country in previous centuries. We are all prima donnas that way.
Regulators to the Wright Bros: drop dead. Thankfully, The Economist spells out a better course, pointing out why the FAA’s shortsighted and overly strict regulation of drones crashes headlong into our irrepressible spirit of experimentation:
The FAA’s attitude is damaging America’s drone business. Firms are shifting fledgling drone operations outside the country. Amazon has tested a drone-delivery service in Canada while Google has experimented with robotic aircraft in Australia. Overly protective regulation also leads to less safe skies. The ban is widely ignored and the new rules will probably be too. Unlicensed flights will be uncharted, the craft unidentified and their operators uninsured.
Finally, someone has called for a halt to treating every business failure as some fraternity award or merit badge:
America’s tolerance for failure stands in admirable contrast to cultures where a single failure automatically destroys your life…Yet the understated acceptance of failure that propelled Silicon Valley for decades has morphed into something dangerous: failure porn. “Failure” as fast fashion, peddled by wildly successful people, packaged for mass consumption.
Alas, “second thoughts on failure” has quickly become an internet meme: RedCode has just weighed in.
Animation impresario Jeffrey Katzenberg tells The New Yorker‘s Tad Friend that “within five years, YouTube will be the biggest media platform of any, by far, in the entire world.” Yet Friend’s meandering exploration of YouTube and Vine seems to miss the main point – the next generation has no patience for long-form:
Like punk and piercings and paintball before them, these videos seem to have been designed expressly to blow parental minds. Adults focus on the brevity. Noting that most of the popular material on YouTube is between two and seven minutes long, Ynon Kreiz, the president of Maker Studios…told me, “I’m not sure the millennial generation has the patience to watch twelve, thirteen episodes of an hour-long show — even a half-hour show.”
The University of Chicago’s Eric Posner makes the case that the “human rights” movement has been eclipsed by more focused, practical efforts to improve well-being and raise living standards. Why? Realism trumps ideology – at least when the language of human rights became so broad it became meaningless:
The central problem with human rights law is that it is hopelessly ambiguous. The ambiguity, which allows governments to rationalise almost anything they do, is not a result of sloppy draftsmanship but of the deliberate choice to overload the treaties with hundreds of poorly defined obligations…[Thus] while governments all use the idiom of human rights, they use it to make radically different arguments about how countries should behave.
If you can bear the tiresome sarcasm, Michael Lewis’s year-end scolding of Wall Street has some funny suggestions. For example:
No person under the age of 35 will be allowed to work on Wall Street. Upon leaving school, young people, no matter how persuasively dimwitted, will be required to earn their living in the so-called real economy. Any job will do: fracker, street performer, chief of marketing for a medical marijuana dispensary.
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