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PS: The Population Challenge

PS: The Population Challenge

When people think of the world’s “population problem,” they often focus on rapid demographic growth in parts of the developing world. But, globally, the population-growth rate is actually falling, and population is expected to plateau later this century. Though we cannot afford to ignore the fact that, according to United Nations estimates, there will be 2.4 billion more mouths to feed worldwide by mid-century, another population problem also merits serious attention: large pockets of demographic decline.

MIT: Algorithm Ranks Notable Authors

MIT: Algorithm Ranks Notable Authors

While the works of thousands of authors enter the public domain each year, only a small percentage of these end up being widely available. So how to choose the ones to focus on? Today, Allen Riddell at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, says he has the answer. Riddell has developed an algorithm that automatically generates an independent ranking of notable authors for a given year. It is then a simple task to pick the works to focus on or to spot notable omissions from the past.

FA: Operation Sigmund Freud

FA: Operation Sigmund Freud

The cessation of major combat operations is often followed by a long period of asymmetric war, in which success can not be achieved through traditional combat. In this new phase of warfare, psychology’s core competencies of understanding individual and group behavior—of both the enemy and one’s own forces—then become the key to success.

TD: Do Nothing, Repeat

TD: Do Nothing, Repeat

The crisis in our political system is less about party than about horizon. Somehow, we seem to have lost the capacity for long-range planning and execution—at a time when, arguably, foresight and patience are more essential than ever before. Iit is hard to imagine how our system can possibly implement policies that would be effective in the long run—or how, if we managed to take the right course, we could possibly stick to it.

BI: Essays on Character and Opportunity

BI: Essays on Character and Opportunity

Richard Reeves provides an introduction to the Center on Children and Families’ Essay Series on Character and Opportunity: I defy you to find a richer set of writings on the philosophical, empirical and practical issues raised by a focus on character, and in particular its relationship to questions of opportunity. There are enthusiasts for the public endeavor of character cultivation as well as thoughtful skeptics. There are calls, from differing political perspectives, to give at least equal weight to the moral dimensions of character, as well as strong demands to honor individual free will and individual development. Two scholars draw attention to the gendered nature of character formation; others stress the importance of culture, social norms, and the impact of chronic stress in the early years. Construction of a policy agenda for the cultivation of character poses a stark challenge to the partisan culture of contemporary politics, but may also alleviate it, by reinvigorating community life.

MJ: Bee-Killing Pesticides Useless

MJ: Bee-Killing Pesticides Useless

So, there’s this widely used class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids that have emerged as a prime suspect in honeybee collapse, and may also be harming birds and water-borne critters. But at least they provide benefits to farmers, right? Well, not soybean farmers, according to a blunt economic assessment released Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency.

BI: Climate Change and CA Drought

BI: Climate Change and CA Drought

It is clear that the current drought event in California is an extreme event, and that it is resulting from a complex confluence of interacting climatic conditions. And it is also clear, given the dramatic and far-reaching impacts, that effective management of climate-related risks requires rigorous, objective assessment of the probability of this kind of extreme event in the current climate.

WP: Disappointing Global Recovery

WP: Disappointing Global Recovery

The International Monetary Fund has once again downgraded its assessment of the world economy through 2015. This year, the IMF expects global growth to clock in at 3.3 percent — 0.4 percentage points lower than the organization predicted just six months ago. It’s been six years since the darkest days of the global financial crisis, but economies across the world have yet to escape its shadow. Here are five of the most important charts in the IMF’s forecast that help explain why this recovery continues to disappoint.

BL: Germany’s Expensive Success

BL: Germany’s Expensive Success

The Energiewende will go on despite its obvious setbacks. There are countries in Europe that already generate more than half of their electricity from renewable sources, such as Sweden, and others that are getting there, such as Austria, and the continent’s biggest economy is trying hard to catch up. The German government’s determination to experiment, and citizens’ continued willingness to pay for these experiments if they lead to a cleaner future, carry important lessons for the U.S. and other countries where politicians are afraid of the kind of upheavals that Germany has faced.

NYT: Errors and Emissions

NYT: Errors and Emissions

Saving the planet would be cheap; it might even be free. But will anyone believe the good news? Where is the new optimism about climate change and growth coming from? It has long been clear that a well-thought-out strategy of emissions control, in particular one that puts a price on carbon via either an emissions tax or a cap-and-trade scheme, would cost much less than the usual suspects want you to think. But the economics of climate protection look even better now than they did a few years ago.

AJA: Age of Rentier Capitalism

AJA: Age of Rentier Capitalism

It is well known that globalization has put strong downward pressure on wages and benefits of workers in wealthy countries, as companies have offshored and outsourced labor to lower-wage locations and justified wage cuts to try to stay competitive. But politicians and economists have yet to come to terms with the fact that in the rich world the income distribution system itself has broken down irretrievably.

NG: Emissions Already Locked In

NG: Emissions Already Locked In

The world’s existing power plants are on track to pour more than 300 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and current monitoring standards often fail to take these long-term emissions into account, according to new research from scientists at UC Irvine and Princeton University. The paper, published Tuesday in the scientific journal Environmental Research Letters, is the first to estimate the lifetime carbon emissions of power plants globally over multiple years.

FA: New World Order

FA: New World Order

Recent advances in technology have created an increasingly unified global marketplace for labor and capital. Some have argued that the current era of rapid technological progress serves labor, and some have argued that it serves capital. The real winners of the future will not be the providers of cheap labor or the owners of ordinary capital, both of whom will be increasingly squeezed by automation. Fortune will instead favor a third group: those who can innovate and create new products, services, and business models.

BI: US Can Learn from Brazil and Germany

BI: US Can Learn from Brazil and Germany

The net result of sub-national regulatory action, the Great Recession, and the widespread substitution of natural gas for coal in electricity generation is that US greenhouse gas emissions dropped by 10 percent between 2005 and 2012. But we must enact policies to maintain this progress, even if market forces change. The goals of Sophisticated Interdependence are to light that path domestically and to emphasize the importance of connecting with our global colleagues along the way.

BBC: Learning in Your Sleep

BBC: Learning in Your Sleep

The idea of learning as you sleep was once thought very unlikely, but there are several ways to try to help you acquire new skills as you doze. During the night, our brain busily processes and consolidates our recollections from the day before, and there could be ways to enhance that process. In the near future, technology may offer further ways of upgrading the brain’s sleep cycles. Memory consolidation is thought to occur during specific, slow, oscillations of electrical activity, so the idea here is to subtly encourage those brain waves without waking the subject. But we shouldn’t shy away from the problems highlighted by fiction like Brave New World and The Simpsons. Although new methods might not be able to brainwash people against their will, we still need to question whether it would be right to start manipulating their children’s memories, for instance.

TA: Why Young Chinese Know More About Money

TA: Why Young Chinese Know More About Money

In a new report comparing financial literacy skills among 15-year-olds in 18 countries, U.S. students scored in the middle of the pack on basic questions about savings, bank accounts and credit/debit cards, and weighing risks and rewards in deciding how to spend their dollars. The ranking of U.S. students in the new assessment is consistent with the nation’s stagnant performance on the most recent PISA for math and reading—two skills that track closely with financial literacy.

NYT: Everything Boom, or Bubble?

NYT: Everything Boom, or Bubble?

Welcome to the Everything Boom and, quite possibly, the Everything Bubble. Around the world, nearly every asset class is expensive by historical standards. The big question for the global economy is what happens next. In the most pleasant outcome, global economic growth would pick up, causing today’s expensive assets to begin looking more reasonably priced. But other outcomes are also possible, including busts in one or more markets that could create a new wave of economic ripples in a world economy still not fully recovered from the last crisis.

NYT: Noncompete Clauses

NYT: Noncompete Clauses

Noncompete clauses are now appearing in far-ranging fields beyond the worlds of technology, sales and corporations with tightly held secrets. From event planners to chefs to investment fund managers to yoga instructors, employees are increasingly required to sign agreements that prohibit them from working for a company’s rivals.

TG: Student Loans Executive Order

TG: Student Loans Executive Order

In another attempt to stem the economic threat of high student debt and win favor for his party before November’s election, President Obama on Monday signed an executive order that will limit federal student loan payments for 5 million more people.

NC: Student Debt Crisis

NC: Student Debt Crisis

Homeowners can refinance a mortgage at under 4 percent. Car loans are available for under 3 percent. Yet college graduates are paying interest of 7 percent or higher on undergraduate loans, and are unable to refinance. Elizabeth Warren’s goal is passage of a bill that will allow students to refinance their loans at lower rates.

NYT: What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades

NYT: What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades

Does handwriting matter? Not very much, according to many educators. But psychologists and neuroscientists say it is far too soon to declare handwriting a relic of the past. New evidence suggests that children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write that matters but how – printing, cursive writing, and typing on a keyboard are all associated with distinct and separate brain patterns and each results in a distinct end product. Researchers have found that when children compose text by hand, they not only consistently produce more words more quickly than they on a keyboard, but express more ideas. There may even be a difference between printing and cursive writing – a distinction of particular importance as the teaching of cursive disappears in curriculum after curriculum.

NYT: Europe’s Secret Success

NYT: Europe’s Secret Success

Europe’s financial and macroeconomic woes have overshadowed its remarkable, unheralded longer-term success in an area in which it used to lag: job creation. The truth is that European-style welfare states have proved more resilient, more successful at job creation, than is allowed for in America’s prevailing economic philosophy.

NYT: Peril of Knowledge

NYT: Peril of Knowledge

Thanks to advances in technology, we may soon revisit a question raised four centuries ago: Are there things we should try not to know? That’s because the collection of data is increasing, in both scale and type, at a phenomenal rate.

BBC: The Slow Death of Purposeless Walking

BBC: The Slow Death of Purposeless Walking

A number of recent books have lauded the connection between walking – just for its own sake – and thinking. Wordsworth was a walker. Charles Dickens was a walker. Henry David Thoreau walked and walked and walked. But are people losing their love of the purposeless walk? This is the era of the “smartphone map zombie” – people who only take occasional glances away from an electronic routefinder to avoid stepping in anything or being hit by a car. But you don’t have to be an author to see the value of walking. Walking requires a certain amount of attention but it leaves great parts of the time open to thinking.

PS: Mismeasure of Technology

PS: Mismeasure of Technology

When something upsets a beneficent natural order, humans crave for stories featuring some malign force. But often governments embrace the goal of shared growth and yet fail to achieve it. If technology is just devices and ideas, what is holding them back? The problem is that a key component of technology is knowhow,

MIT: Tracking Black Markets

MIT: Tracking Black Markets

The underground economy is a shadowy zone where businesses, both legitimate and less so, transact in the currency of opportunity, away from traditional institutions and their watchful eyes. A recent University of Wisconsin report estimates the value of the underground economy in the United States at about $2 trillion, about 15% of the total U.S. GDP.

AJA: US Industrialized Chicken

AJA: US Industrialized Chicken

The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed to increase the speed of kill lines for poultry in slaughterhouses. But with testing from Consumer Reports last year revealing that 97 percent of raw chicken breasts purchased at retailers are contaminated with harmful bacteria, and with poultry workers already suffering from numerous job-related injuries, advocacy groups are vigorously opposed to the idea.

NC: Chemical Apples

NC: Chemical Apples

A chemical widely used on non-organic American apples was banned in the European Union in 2012 because its makers could not show it did not pose a risk to human health, according to a new analysis by Environmental Working Group (EWG). Even low levels of nitrosamines on raw apples, or in apple juice and applesauce could potentially pose a risk to human health.

BI: Energy Fueling a New Order?

BI: Energy Fueling a New Order?

The paper “Fueling a New Order? The New Geopolitical and Security Consequences of Energy” examines impacts of the major transformation in international energy markets that has begun. The United States is poised to overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s largest oil producer and is on track to become the dominant player in global energy markets. China is in place to surpass the United States in its scale of oil imports, and has already edged out the U.S. in carbon emissions.

TN: Economic and Climate Justice

TN: Economic and Climate Justice

Anyone who is committed to the hard work of bringing deep structural change to our economic, social and political systems is now faced with scientific facts so immediate and so dire as to render a life’s work seemingly futile. The question, then, becomes how to escape that paralyzing sense of futility, and how to accelerate the sort of grassroots democratic mobilization we need if we’re to salvage any hope of a just and stable society.

PS: Growing Divide Developing Economies

PS: Growing Divide Developing Economies

When researchers at the McKinsey Global Institute recently dug into the details of Mexico’s lagging economic performance, they made a remarkable discovery: an unexpectedly large gap in productivity growth between large and small firms. In view of the huge gulf separating the “two Mexicos” it is no wonder that the economy performed so poorly overall. This is in fact an increasingly common occurrence around the developing world, a bewildering fissure is opening up between economies’ leading and lagging sectors.

NYT: Ideas As Property

NYT: Ideas As Property

The big story in Silicon Valley these days is a class-action lawsuit alleging that several major tech companies, including Google and Apple, agreed not to try to hire away one another’s employees – thereby hindering workers from seeking out better-paying jobs. But do-not-hire agreements are not the only way that corporations are taking control of their employees’ intellectual capital. With more corporations demanding that employees pre-assign their intellectual property, there has been a steady decrease in inventor-owned patents. The effects of giving up future control over one’s own skills and products of the mind are significant. In a world in which economic growth depends on innovation, we cannot afford such limitations on creativity.

NYT: Unhealthy Meat Market

NYT: Unhealthy Meat Market

Factory farming has devastating consequences to animals, human health, and the socio-economic wellbeing of rural America. It’s easy to criticize the current model of industrial agriculture, far harder to outline a viable alternative. A starting point is to recognize bluntly that our industrial food system is unhealthy.

CERES: Clean Energy Investment Gap

CERES: Clean Energy Investment Gap

To have an 80 percent chance of maintaining this 2 °C limit, the IEA estimates an additional $36 trillion in clean energy investment is needed through 2050—or an average of $1 trillion more per year compared to a “business as usual” scenario over the next 36 years.This Ceres report provides 10 recommendations for investors, companies and policymakers.

IRENA: Renewable Energy Roadmap

IRENA: Renewable Energy Roadmap

REmap 2030 is a roadmap to double the share of renewable energy by 2030. It is the first global study to provide renewable energy options based on a bottom-up analysis of official national sources. The study not only focuses on technologies, but also on the availability of financing, political will, skills, and the role of planning.

WRI: Bamboo Secret Weapon

WRI: Bamboo Secret Weapon

We face an urgent need to provide innovative responses to natural resource use. Bamboo could play an important role in forest and landscape restoration. With adequate attention, investment, and the right standards in place, it could become a major renewable and sustainable crop—if we can update our outmoded view of it.

CP: On Academic Labor

CP: On Academic Labor

Noam Chomsky discusses issues related to the breakdown of our educational system, specifically he discusses hiring faculty off the tenure track, how higher education ought to be, “shared governance” and worker control, the alleged need for labor “flexibility”, the purpose of education, and the love of teaching.

WRI: US Manufacturing Resurgence

WRI: US Manufacturing Resurgence

U.S. manufacturing—and the jobs that go with it—have been steadily increasing since 2010. Whether the resurgence of U.S. manufacturing jobs continues depends on a range of factors—including environmental initiatives. While the future of U.S. manufacturing jobs is uncertain, energy-efficiency and clean-energy investment can help ensure that this sector continues to thrive.

BI: State of the Int’l Order

BI: State of the Int’l Order

The State of the International Order report assesses international cooperation in the economic, diplomatic and security realms five years after the global financial crisis and over a decade after the invasion of Iraq. In gauging the state of the order, we ask two questions: What are the material realities shaping the options faced by the great powers? What are the issue-by-issue interactions that are revealing or shaping the content of great power relations, and international order more generally?

NAEP: US 2013 Maths and Reading Results

NAEP: US 2013 Maths and Reading Results

Nationally representative samples of more than 376,000 fourth-graders and 341,000 eighth-graders were assessed in either mathematics or reading in 2013. Average mathematics scores for fourth- and eighth-graders in 2013 were 1 point higher than in 2011, and 28 and 22 points higher respectively in comparison to the first assessment year in 1990.

NYT: Apple’s Shopping List

NYT: Apple’s Shopping List

As fellow tech giants have reached billion-dollar deals in recent years to add significant new arms to their businesses, Apple has ventured down a different path. The company has avoided jaw-dropping takeovers in favor of a series of smaller deals, using the companies to buttress or fill a gap in products that already exist or are in development.

TM: Shadows of Liberty

TM: Shadows of Liberty

Ninety percent of American media is controlled by five big, for-profit-conglomerates, creating a media monopoly of informational and social control never before possible. Shadows of Liberty reveals the hidden machinations of the news media, drawing into focus the vast mechanisms of censorship, cover-ups, and corporate control that have been built up over many decades.

MIT: Large City CO2

MIT: Large City CO2

More than half the world’s population lives in cities. There is clearly a significant benefit to living in a large permanent settlement with many other humans. But is living in a large city greener than living in a small one? Today we get an answer thanks to the work of Erneson Oliveira and pals at the Federal University of Ceará in Brazil.

BI: Development Revisited

BI: Development Revisited

The true measure of aid’s impact lies in the difference it makes to the lives of people living in poverty. Sweeping generalizations asserting how small the contribution is of aid to development are not only likely to be wrong, but can have real, adverse and unnecessary consequences for the lives of the least fortunate on our planet.

FA: Good Enough Global Governance

FA: Good Enough Global Governance

The future will see not the renovation or the construction of a glistening new international architecture but the continued spread of an unattractive but adaptable multilateral sprawl that delivers a partial measure of international cooperation through a welter of informal arrangements and piecemeal approaches. The furious pace of technological change risks leaving global governance in the dust.

NC: Perpetual Underemployment

NC: Perpetual Underemployment

The primary distribution through the free market economy, whose distributive principle is “to each according to his production,” delivers progressively more market-sourced income to capital owners and progressively less to workers who make their contribution through labor.

NYT: Gifted Students

NYT: Gifted Students

In a post-smokestack age, there is only one way for the United States to avoid a declining standard of living, and that is through innovation. The nation has to enlarge its pool of the best and brightest science and math students and encourage them to pursue careers that will keep the country competitive. But that isn’t happening.

NPR: Easter Island

NPR: Easter Island

Easter Island has been thought of as a clear example of a society that destroyed itself by overexploiting its own resources. Two anthropologists now think that may not be what happened, but their alternative view is hardly consoling. On Easter Island, people learned to live with less and forgot what it was like to have more. Maybe that will happen to us. A future in which we continuously degrade our planet, losing plant after plant, animal after animal, forgetting what we once enjoyed, adjusting to lesser circumstances, cannot be called “success.” To prevent an ecological crisis, we must become alarmed – that’s when we’ll act – but the new Easter Island story suggests that humans may never hit the alarm. There’s a lesson here and it’s not a happy one.

NYT: Europe v Amazon

NYT: Europe v Amazon

On its home territory, Amazon.com is routinely hailed as a jobs machine. The recession might have cut deeper in Europe, making the question of new jobs even more crucial, but the attitude there is much cooler toward Amazon and its high-tech ways. In Britain, the warehouses that so impressed President Obama have been compared, in a February story in The Financial Times, with a “slave camp.”

HP: New Macroeconomics

HP: New Macroeconomics

Since the 2008 financial crash, our country has been reeling without getting its economic policy right. What we needed then, and need now, is a new kind of macroeconomics; one that aims for investment-led growth, not consumption-led growth. But investment-led growth can’t be achieved by a temporary stimulus. It requires a very different kind of strategy and policy.

TNY: Climate By Numbers

TNY: Climate By Numbers

In 2012, drought struck nearly eighty per cent of the nation’s farmland, and the growing season was the hottest and driest in decades. Unpredictable weather is hardly rare, or new. For thousands of years, floods, droughts, tornadoes, heat waves, and early frosts have been agriculture’s unyielding enemies. But even the most sophisticated farmer would have trouble planning for the vagaries of today’s climate.

NYT: Caught in Unemployment

NYT: Caught in Unemployment

Joblessness itself has become a trap, an impediment to finding a job. Economists are concerned that joblessness lasting more than six months is a major factor preventing people from getting rehired, with potentially grave consequences for tens of millions of Americans and for the country, too: lost production, increased social spending, decreased tax revenue and slower growth.

TE: Cash to the Poor

TE: Cash to the Poor

Unconditional Cash Transfers work better than almost anyone would have expected. They dent the stereotype of poor people as inherently feckless and ignorant. But Conditional Cash Transfers are usually better still, especially when dealing with the root causes of poverty and, rather than just alleviating it, helping families escape it altogether.

TE: Omidyar Way of Giving

TE: Omidyar Way of Giving

Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay, is bankrolling the new journalism venture of Glenn Greenwald, best known for his reporting on the National Security Agency. In his first few years as a big giver, Mr Omidyar went from embracing conventional wisdom to challenging it. The moneymaking counterpart to venture philanthropy is “impact investing”: aiming to turn a profit while doing some social or environmental good. But Mr Omidyar thinks most so-called impact investors are being too risk-averse. Focused it on five main themes, financial inclusion, consumer internet and mobile telecoms, education, property rights and open government, the Omidyar Network is seeking ways to co-ordinate its investments in for-profits and non-profits so as to accelerate the growth of entire sectors.

DS: Factory Farming

DS: Factory Farming

Germany slaughters 58 million pigs a year and has built an efficient meat industry second only to the US in pork exports. Its optimized breeding, feeding and killing system churns out wondrously cheap cutlets — but at a hidden cost to the environment and our health.

NYT: Experience As It Once Was

NYT: Experience As It Once Was

I was going 115 miles per hour on a German autobahn when it occurred to me that one reason the German economy is doing so well is that people can get from one place to another so fast. The question of genuine, undiluted experience has been on my mind. Germans have a good word for something authentic: “echt.” We have an echt deficit these days. Everything seems filtered, monitored, marshaled, ameliorated, graded and app-ready — made into a kind of branded facsimile of experience for easier absorption. The thrill of the unexpected is lost. The modern world’s tech-giddy control and facilitation makes us stupid. We demand shortcuts, as if there are shortcuts to genuine experience. The state’s cameras are trained on streets where people’s gazes are trained on hand-held screens that map their movements — offering facsimiles of the experience they might have if they ever looked up.

WP: Troubling Test for 11yr Olds

WP: Troubling Test for 11yr Olds

We’re just a month into school and already the testing madness has begun. Many Pittsburgh Public School students have just taken their first round of standardized tests, and it’s time to ask some serious questions about their purpose, the ever-increasing number of tests, and the impact on our children.

NoC: Hope for Future of Food

NoC: Hope for Future of Food

When it comes to the future of the food system, it’s hard not to be discouraged. Nearly one billion people are hungry, and another 1.5 billion are obese or overweight. All over the world, people waste 1.3 billion tons of food each year. But Food Tank has compiled a list of 14 reasons to be hopeful about the future of the food system.

AN: Inequality and Dumbness

AN: Inequality and Dumbness

Tthe Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released the results of a two-year study in which thousands of adults in 23 countries were tested for their skills in literacy, basic math and technology. The US fared badly in all three fields, ranking somewhere in the middle for literacy but way down at the bottom for technology and math. The question is, do the study’s results imply that “US adults are dumber than your average human”?

HP: Exceptionalism and California

HP: Exceptionalism and California

Conservatives who love to brag about American exceptionalism must come here to California, and see it in person. And then they should be afraid — very afraid. Because while the rest of the country is beset by stories of right-wing takeovers in places like North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin, California is going in the opposite direction and creating the kind of modern, liberal nation the country as a whole can only dream about.

NYT: Complexity is Free

NYT: Complexity is Free

It’s easy to be depressed about America these days. We’ve got messes aplenty abroad and the Republican-dominated House of Representatives is totally paralyzed. Fortunately, there is another, still “exceptional,” American reality out there. It’s best found at the research centers of any global American company.

Economist: Government and Innovation

Economist: Government and Innovation

The state has played a central role in producing game-changing breakthroughs, its contribution to the success of technology-based businesses should not be underestimated. There are many reasons why policymakers must modernise the state and bring entitlements under control. But one of the most important is that a well-run state is a vital part of a successful innovation system.

Economist: Praise for Laziness

Economist: Praise for Laziness

There is a never-ending supply of business gurus telling us how we can, and must, do more. Yet the biggest problem in the business world is not too little but altogether too much busy-ness. All this “leaning in” is producing an epidemic of overwork, and has been producing negative returns for some time now. It is time to try the far more radical strategy of leaning back.

Foreign Affairs: Next Economic Bubble

Foreign Affairs: Next Economic Bubble

Occasionally, the object of speculation has been one of those fundamental technological innovations that eventually transforms the economy. In these cases, the prospects of short-term financial gain from riding a bubble mobilizes far more investor capital than prudent professional investors would otherwise dole out.

BBC: Turning to Farming

BBC: Turning to Farming

A small but – anecdotally – growing group of Americans are leaving the structure and security of an office job for the gruelling, yet rewarding work of earning money from the land. Some want to be a part of improving the food supply for themselves and their community; others are excited by the prospect of becoming self-sufficient, or simply working outdoors like their ancestors did.

NYT: Surveillance and Behavior

NYT: Surveillance and Behavior

A new research paper shows in detail how significant the surveillance effect on behavior can be. The researchers measured the impact of software that monitors employee-level theft and sales transactions, before and after the technology was installed, at 392 restaurants in 39 states. The research suggests that the surveillance effect on employee behavior is striking.

Brookings: Globally Fluent Metropolises

Brookings: Globally Fluent Metropolises

Swift global integration, the expansion of a global consumer class, and the rise of urban areas as the engines of global economic growth have ushered in a new era. This paper presents 10 traits of globally fluent metro areas and their critical relationship to the competitiveness, productivity, and prosperity of cities and regions in the 21st century.

NYT: School Standards

NYT: School Standards

The Common Core, a set of standards for kindergarten through high school that has been ardently supported by the Obama administration and many business leaders and state legislatures, is facing growing opposition from both the right and the left even before it has been properly introduced into classrooms.

Yahoo: Amazon Selling Everything

Yahoo: Amazon Selling Everything

What Bezos saw that others didn’t was that his business was about distribution, not inventory or product categories. With the right system in place, Amazon will be able to deliver anything to customers the same day it’s purchased online. It marks the beginning of the end of shopping as the whole world knows it.

NoC: Bee-Killing Pesticides

NoC: Bee-Killing Pesticides

It is estimated over 10 million beehives been wiped out since 2007, as part of a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Two Congressional Democrats have co-sponsored new legislation called the Save America’s Pollinators Act of 2013 to take emergency action to save the remaining bees in the U.S., and in turn, the U.S. food supply.

PS: Greening Financial Reform

PS: Greening Financial Reform

Trillions of dollars in “green finance” are needed annually to prevent climate change and natural constraints from stalling the global economy and threatening the livelihoods of billions of people. Policymakers need to develop more effective ways to boost green investment. Limiting regulatory reform to preventing a repetition of past crises is an incomplete, potentially damaging approach. Today’s financial-market reform must also look ahead, in order to avoid the potential crises of tomorrow.

Jessica Jackley: Social Entrepreneur

Jessica Jackley: Social Entrepreneur

Jessica is a social entrepreneur focused on empowering others through entrepreneurship and access to capital. She currently serves as a Venture Partner with the Collaborative Fund, focused on investing in creative entrepreneurs who want to change the world through emerging technologies.

Muhammad Yunus: Economist

Muhammad Yunus: Economist

Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus’s vision is the total eradication of poverty from the world. This work is a fundamental rethink on the economic relationship between the rich and the poor, their rights and their obligations. Credit is the last hope left to those faced with absolute poverty. That is why Muhammad Yunus believes that the right to credit should be recognized as a fundamental human right.

Allan Savory: Management

Allan Savory: Management

Allan Savory created the holistic management philosophy and practice and is the Founder and President of the Savory Institute. The Savory Institute team has deep expertise in land management, livestock management, business development, social entrepreneurship and environmental issues.

Ken Robinson: Educationalist

Ken Robinson: Educationalist

Why don’t we get the best out of people? Sir Ken Robinson argues that it’s because we’ve been educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. Students with restless minds and bodies — far from being cultivated for their energy and curiosity — are ignored or even stigmatized, with terrible consequences. “We are educating people out of their creativity,” Robinson says.

WP: 3D Printer Enthusiasm

WP: 3D Printer Enthusiasm

I worry that because of the excess hype, 3D printing will soon suffer the same backlash as solar energy and electric cars. We are only in the early stages of 3D printing. The curve is flat for the foreseeable future. We are about to see a renaissance in design. So let’s be excited, but adjust our expectations – the large-scale manufacturing revolution will happen only after we become bitterly disappointed.

AlterNet: What Makes People Tick

AlterNet: What Makes People Tick

People act from wellsprings of emotions, values and non-conscious fears and longings much more than they do from rational calculations of costs and benefits that, in an ideal world, should underlie their relationship to politics and social change. The more leaders understand people, what makes them tick and what they need and fear, the better able they are to connect with their real interests.

PS: Sino-EU Vision

PS: Sino-EU Vision

Many Europeans believe that China, one of the EU’s ten so-called strategic partners, behaves more like a competitor. And many Chinese, for whom the EU is just one of more than 70 strategic partners, complain that the EU’s policy toward China is more commercial than strategic. The time has come for the world’s largest developing country and largest bloc of developed countries to define and deepen their strategic partnership.

AlterNet: Cooperative Economies

AlterNet: Cooperative Economies

Capitalism rests on a foundation of myths. First, capitalism somehow “invented” entrepreneurship; second, capitalism provides the only “market” economy; third, only capitalism is compatible with “self-reliance” and individual responsibility; fourth, capitalism is the model of “efficiency,” when in truth it generates enormous waste of all kinds; finally, there Is No Alternative. All of this is nonsense. The economy of the Emilia Romagna region of Italy and its largest city, Bologna, is living proof.

NYT: IP and Inequality

NYT: IP and Inequality

At first glance, the case, Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, might seem like scientific arcana: the court ruled, unanimously, that human genes cannot be patented, though synthetic DNA, created in the laboratory, can be. But the real stakes were much higher, and the issues much more fundamental, than is commonly understood.

NoC: German Solar

NoC: German Solar

Germany is now creating a record 23.4 gigawatts daily of solar power. This proves an industrialized nation can produce massive amounts of clean, non-petroleum based energy through strong government policies and incentives for stimulating the use of solar panels in private homes and businesses.

NoC: GMO Food Harms Pigs

NoC: GMO Food Harms Pigs

As UK officials tout GMO foods as ‘safe’ compared to organic crops, results of a long-term, peer-reviewed study conducted by a group of scientists led by Dr Judy Carman of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research in Australia proves that GMO are anything but ‘safe.’ Pigs and cows fed on the rather common diet of GMO corn and soy have suffered digestive and reproductive disorders – human digestive tract is very similar to that of pigs.

Wired: Programmable World

Wired: Programmable World

The idea of animating the inanimate, of compelling the physical world to do our bidding, has been a staple of science fiction for half a century or more. But someday soon we’ll have houses that can act with genuine intelligence that will enrich our lives far more than any missile launcher ever could.

NYT: Danish Welfare

NYT: Danish Welfare

While much of southern Europe has been racked by strikes and protests as its creditors force austerity measures, Denmark still has a coveted AAA bond rating. But Denmark’s long-term outlook is troubling. With little fuss or political protest — or notice abroad — Denmark has been at work overhauling entitlements, trying to prod Danes into working more or longer or both.

Smithsonian: Life in the City

Smithsonian: Life in the City

Cities are shaped by their histories and by accidents of geography and climate but they are also universal, the products of social, economic and physical principles that transcend space and time. “Quantitative urbanism” is an effort to reduce to mathematical formulas the chaotic, exuberant, extravagant nature of one of humanity’s oldest and most important inventions, the city. The birth of this new field can be dated to 2003, when researchers convened a workshop on ways to “model”—in the scientific sense of reducing to equations—aspects of human society. With the technology to know virtually anything that goes on in an urban society, the question becomes how to leverage it to do good, to make the city run better, enhance security and safety and promote the private sector. While urbanization gave the world Athens and Paris, it also gave the chaos of Mumbai and the poverty of Dickens’ London.

NYT: 401(k) World

NYT: 401(k) World

Something really big happened in the world’s wiring in the last decade, we went from a connected world to a hyperconnected world. Connectivity and creativity has created a global education, commercial, communication and innovation platform on which more people can start stuff, collaborate on stuff, learn stuff, make stuff (and destroy stuff) with more other people than ever before.

Sustainable Investment Alliance

Sustainable Investment Alliance

The Global Sustainable Investment Alliance’s mission is to deepen the impact and visibility of sustainable investment organizations at the global level. Its vision is a world where sustainable investment is integrated into financial systems and the investment chain and where all regions of the world have coverage through membership institutions that advance sustainable investing.

The Economist: Green Wheels

The Economist: Green Wheels

Some carmakers try harder than others to be green. Besides making their models cleaner to run, many carmakers are also trying to reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing them. Having been depicted as environmental villains since the 1950s, cars and their makers may soon be able to move out of the spotlight.

Academic Earth

Academic Earth

Academic Earth is an organization founded with the goal of giving everyone on earth access to a world-class education. We are building a user-friendly educational ecosystem that will give internet users around the world the ability to learn from full video courses and lectures from the world’s leading scholars.

NatGeo: Curse of Fertilizer

NatGeo: Curse of Fertilizer

Without nitrogen, the machinery of photosynthesis cannot function. Corn, wheat, and rice, the crops on which humanity depends for survival, are among the most nitrogen hungry of all plants. Yet, runaway nitrogen is suffocating wildlife in lakes and estuaries, contaminating groundwater, and even warming the globe’s climate.

NYT: Electric Cars Earn Money

NYT: Electric Cars Earn Money

A line of Mini Coopers, each attached to the regional power grid by a thick cable plugged in where a gasoline filler pipe used to be, no longer just draws energy. The power now flows two ways between the cars and the electric grid, as the cars inject and suck power in tiny jolts, and get paid for it.

Brookings: Postsecondary Student Learning

Brookings: Postsecondary Student Learning

College completion rates in the U.S. are stubbornly low despite the large and rising returns to a college degree. Efforts to increase student success in college have largely ignored a potentially key factor: the instruction that students receive in the sequence of courses that add up to a college education.

Brookings: Importance of Manufacturing

Brookings: Importance of Manufacturing

Manufacturing—or rather advanced manufacturing—is essential to the U.S. economy because it is the main source of innovation and global competitiveness for the United States. Simply put, advanced manufacturing is the U.S. pipeline for new products and productivity-enhancing processes.

Brookings: American Future

Brookings: American Future

As politicians in Washington focus on reining in America’s worrisome deficit, they tend to have attitudes of doom and gloom. They convey fears of shortchanging future generations, overtaxing workers, depriving the needy, killing the fragile economic recovery and failing to make crucial investments.

NYT: Engineering Serendipity

NYT: Engineering Serendipity

Silicon Valley is obsessed with serendipity. Armed with social network maps, managers can spot isolated teams and structural holes, tweaking the organizational structure in real time. Rather than wait for their employees to cross paths, they could simply make the necessary introductions.

Economist: Biomedical Scaffolding

Economist: Biomedical Scaffolding

Many of the scaffolds that have already been commercialised for wound repair, bone grafts and surgical aids are comparatively simple. Moving to the next generation of scaffolds for the delivery of drugs, cells and eventually genes will require extensive safety testing and lengthy clinical trials.

Economist: Sharing Economy

Economist: Sharing Economy

Why pay through the nose for something when you can rent it more cheaply from a stranger online? That is the principle behind a range of online services that enable people to share cars, accommodation, bicycles, household appliances and other items, connecting owners of underused assets with others willing to pay to use them.

NYT: America the Innovative?

NYT: America the Innovative?

Although America has accounted for a sizable share of all technological innovations that have shaped our modern world, the wider historical evidence is disappointing for anyone who thinks political freedom is a fundamental precondition for innovation. Even the evidence of America’s own history undercuts the “all you need is freedom” story.

Wired: Science of Swarms

Wired: Science of Swarms

For more than a century people have tried to understand how individuals become unified groups. The secrets of the swarm hinted at a whole new way of looking at the world. But those secrets were hidden for decades. When it came to figuring out collectives, nobody had the methods or the math.

Wired: Clayton Christensen

Wired: Clayton Christensen

Sixteen years ago a book by Clayton Christensen changed business thinking forever. The Innovator’s Dilemma looked at industries and exposed a surprising phenomenon: When big companies fail, it’s often not because they do something wrong but because they do everything right.

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