Working through the link backlog while I work through the work backlog. For the record, centralized managed accounts are the Devil's Business. I've run into far too many instances of a paranoid sysadmin setting the controls too tightly and that breaks my apps in unpredictable ways (such as sending e-mail).

However, I'm sure you're here for articles and not my bitching and moaning, so here we go...

‘One Has This Feeling of Having Contributed to Something That’s Gone Very Wrong’ (New York Magazine)

I've been a fan of Jaron Lanier's writing since "DIGITAL MAOISM: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism" a decade ago. In this new piece he follows up on that article and talks about where things went wrong in our online environments and where they could be set right (via nationalization or monetization). I'm not going to summarize it much more - there's too much good stuff to choose from that I'm not making that choice for you. :-)

Containers (xkcd)

I feel like this comic template can be reused pretty regularly when it comes to technology and how much people really understand the tools that they're working with.

Tech Giants Feel the Squeeze as Xi Jinping Tightens His Grip (New York Times)

I think a fascinating natural experiment on the optimal economic arrangements to compete for superpower status is about to be run. On the West, we have the USA as a classic market-driven capitalist economy. On the East, we have China with a centrally-controlled structure for deciding who gets to compete on what, backed by a population culturally attuned to a more collectivist mindset than the individualist Americans.

Will China flame out and prove American fears unfounded as Japan did in the 1980s, or has someone finally refined the socialism equation, rendering decentralized market-driven economies obsolete? All I know is that China is working very hard at earning their hegemony, while Americans are angsting about what girls are wearing to prom. (Decentralization giveth and decentralization taketh away.)

There Is No Teacher Shortage (Current Affairs)

If this is a “shortage,” then I could say there was a “bicycle shortage” in the United States if I was unwilling to pay more than $5 for a bicycle and nobody would sell me one. It would certainly be true, in that situation, that there is a “shortage” of bicycles available to me. But that has nothing to do with the overall supply of bicycles, of which there are still plenty. (Or I could say there was a “painter shortage” because nobody is willing to paint my house for nine cents while I shout abuse at them.)

While I agree that most talks of shortages are bunk - be it in teaching, technology, or something else - given that the obvious solution to it is to pay people more until there's no shortage left, I think that Robinson's perception of the issue is simplistic. I'm sure that there's wide support for paying teachers more, but there's not wide support for increased taxation to make it happen. The State doesn't have a limitless checkbook from which to draw from, and the linkage between "we need to pay teachers more" is often lost when it comes out during campaign season as "Rich Teacher Candidate wants to pick your pocket".

Seems like a ready-made problem for local governance and school funding. Folks will be willing to chip in more to pay the teachers that work in their community, rather than having those funds siphoned off to a central authority that disburses it among a large number of communities. This won't solve the teacher pay problem completely, given the variance in local taxation bases, but it does keep the schools accountable to the communities they serve.

I probably won't post any more links today, but stay tuned if you want to observe that natural experiment.

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