American Madness

Intelligent Criticism in the Service of a Better Nation

Technology unfulfilled: the lack of progress

I’m listening to a fascinating speaker right now. He’s considering how the serious and fantastical expectations of technological progress have been substantially unfulfilled. We enjoyed enormous progress through the 60s and seem to have stalled, replacing real productivity gains with theoretical improvements. He raises some fascinating points:
Biotech, Genomics, Alternative Energy, Artificial Intelligence? Progress has been [...]

Journalists will believe anything with a percentage attached

Stephen Bernard of the Associated Press probably wouldn’t believe for one second that I could tell him, to the pound, the weight of all the rocks that fell off the Rocky Mountains during the past week. But he will — apparently without a scintilla of doubt — report that some company knows how much [...]

It was carbs all the time

Say, don’t you remember, they called me Al; it was Al all the time.
Say, don’t you remember, I’m your pal? Buddy, can you spare a dime?
- Brother Can You Spare a Dime. Yip Harburg. 1931.
Back in 1931, people knew that carbs, eaten to excess, would make you fat. It’s common sense. Who thinks they can [...]

Retirement is a foolish goal

Ron Lieber was kind enough to respond to my letter (which I rewrote into this piece) with these questions:
Thanks Josh — but what do you propose as an alternative?
T-bills forever and always? Will that provide a secure retirement for most folks?
Or do you believe that the mass of NYTimes readers can figure out the [...]

A basic problem of logic

Today’s NYTimes contains an article by Ron Lieber that I’ve read hundreds of times in different guises by different authors.
The basic argument is “buy and hold”: keep your money in the stock market during this blip because you’ll be sorry if you miss a resurgence. Articles like this explain that, yes, it would be [...]

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