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John McCain in an interview shortly after his release from a POW camp (1973) Credit: US News & World Report.

Universal basic income represents economic security while falling short of the economic democracy that follows from distributed ownership structures. 

As long as automation is steered by capital and not by workers' interests, universal basic income (UBI) will only be a bandage on a growing wound.
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Republicans make a deceptive promise in Obamacare replacement pitch. California might deliver the real thing.

The Republican plan proposes "universal access to healthcare" the same way we have "universal access to yachts"—an empty promise that boils down to anyone can buy it, if they have the money.

Republicans propose to pay for their Obamacare replacement by capping the tax exclusion employers can claim. Meanwhile, California introduced a bill to instate single-payer healthcare for all. 


In honor of President's Day, a fact sad but true: no American president has worn facial hair in over a hundred years, not since Taft and his walrus whiskers.

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CEOs can be useless—which is why a Swedish firm doesn't have one.

Three years ago, the employees at Swedish software firm Crisp decided the CEO's job was already being done by everyone else. Thus, from then on: no CEO. Instead the company holds four-day meetings two to three times a year to make big decisions all together.

Yassal Sundman, a developer at the firm, explains: "We said, 'what if we had nobody as our next CEO - what would that look like?' And then we went through an exercise and listed down the things that the CEO does."


As we've all tried to make sense of this very murky meta-story of just what's up with Donald Trump and Russia, there's always been the complicated and messy business ties then and the suppliant, fawning attitude and relationship with Putin now. Are they connected?

Decent summary by Josh Marshall this morning on the new Times story about what appear to be backchannel communications between the Kremlin and the White House.
↩︎ Talking Points Memo

A fascinating story about climate change and the sinking of Mexico City—where old buildings undulate, sidewalks resemble broken china, and in the giant neighborhood of Iztapalapa ("where nearly two million people live, many of them unable to count on water from their taps") 15 elementary schools have crumbled or caved in.

Photo credit: Josh Haner.

Three good reads about the state of entertainment.

1. A conversation with author Daniel Levitin on "the neuroscience of music, behavior, and staying sane in the age of Twitter."

Taking a break and getting yourself into this mind wandering mode by giving into it for 15 minutes at a time every couple of hours or so, you effectively hit the reset button in the brain, restoring some neurochemicals that had been depleted through focused activity. There are a lot of different ways to get into this mind wandering mode... Going off and searching the Web for your 15-minute break is not a break.

2. The Economist's special report, "Mass entertainment in the digital age is still about blockbusters, not endless choice."

Of the thousands of films released worldwide in 2016 (including well over 700 in America alone), the top five performers at the box office were all made by Disney. The 13 films the company released last year, plus remaining business from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, accounted for one-fifth of total film revenue worldwide. Disney has focused on big-event films with iconic characters and storylines that have global appeal (and that fuel its unparalleled businesses in consumer-product licensing and theme parks). Only a few years ago the big studios would typically aim for 20-25 films apiece to provide a margin for error. Some still do, but Disney’s more focused approach, investing almost exclusively in blockbusters, is paying off with a much higher rate of return.

3. "Shakeup at the Oscars," by Michael Schulman.

The Academy has had to police the increasingly aggressive campaign scene. It’s against the rules to ask for votes explicitly, so strategists tiptoe around the topic: “Did you get the screener?” In 2010, Nicolas Chartier, a producer of “The Hurt Locker,” sent a mass e-mail asking Academy members to vote for his movie and “not the $500-million film,” meaning “Avatar.” He was banned from attending the ceremony, where “The Hurt Locker” won Best Picture. Often, a negative campaign stunt will inspire a new rule. In 2004, DreamWorks placed an ad quoting critics who said that Shohreh Aghdashloo, of “House of Sand and Fog,” “should win” Best Supporting Actress over Renée Zellweger, of Miramax’s “Cold Mountain.” Zellweger won anyway, and the Academy now forbids ads that cast “a derogatory light on a competing film.”


Your Monday sports news: Dragon-boat-on-ice enthusiast says "dragon-boat-on-ice is probably the next winter sport to create a buzz."

It’s not perfect, my Z900, but then neither am I and we are working together to overcome our respective shortcomings.

A brief essay about fetching tea on a motorcycle in Britain's Malvern Hills.
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