1. Obama did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit, which in theory is a pretty big deal, illustrating the way modern technology allows a sitting president to cut through layers of separation and communicate directly with citizens all over the country (We have come a long way from the days when most people could only read about presidents in the newspaper). Perhaps predictably, though, Obama mostly answered easy questions or stuck to vague talking points about things like the Internet and NASA, ignoring harder questions about things like the TSA or lobbyists or his betrayal on medical marijuana or the American citizen killed in a drone strike.
2. How the Federal Reserve Accelerates the Robopocalypse. The Federal Reserve has been keeping interest rates ridiculously low for an unprecedented length of time. It’s supposed to help the economy, but I sometimes wonder what unintended consequences this might have down the line. Victor Wong argues that this is actually hurting employment by encouraging businesses to invest in robot labor. I’m not completely convinced, but it sounds plausible. I’m generally optimistic that labor freed by technology will always find something better to do, but I read an argument recently (h/t @interfluidity) that “this time it’s different” because we’re finally starting to run out of options for people on the lower half of the IQ spectrum (read the skeptical comments as well).
3. The Wall Street Journal has a piece about how Republican governors are reforming their states. OK, it’s the WSJ, so they may be exaggerating correlation and causation (they sing Chris Christie’s praises for emboldening other GOP governors without mentioning that his New Jersey is still looking pretty poor on several levels), but I was surprised by the sheer number of taxes that have been cut in red states in the last couple years. I’m interested to see if this supposed “bifurcation” of reformed red states and unsustainable blue states becomes more clear as this decade continues.
4. The Siege of Academe. A long article about technology’s attempt to disrupt higher education. As college costs have skyrocketed past inflation, “they see businesses that are organized around communication between people and the exchange of information, two things that are increasingly happening over the Internet.”
5. President Obama “honors” Neil Armstrong with a stock photo of Obama looking at the moon. Ah, the subtle arrogance of injecting yourself into everything important that ever happened in history. Remember when Obama dropped his name into almost every other presidential biography on the White House website? Apparently he’s doing it with descriptions of foreign countries, too. And I’m not sure if this counts, but don’t forget Biden’s praises of Obama approving the bin Laden raid as the most “audacious” plan in the last 500 years.
6. We Don’t Need No Stinking Warrant: The Disturbing, Unchecked Rise of the Administrative Subpoena. Wired has a detailed article about the way an increasing number of government agencies can basically do whatever they want whenever they want with no oversight or review. Checks and balances FTW!
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