"Should America Be Run by … Trader Joe’s?"

Freakonomics podcast (with transcript). Whenever I visit I sure notice the upbeat employees they mention. I assume this is one reason why:

It employs a lot of real, live people — and pays them above the industry standard: as of 2013, full-time Trader Joe’s “crew members” made about $50,000 a year while “captains” made more than $100,000, also with better-than-average benefits.

Link courtesy of my older daughter.

"The present phase of stagnation in the foundations of physics is not normal"

Sabine Hossenfelder smacks around a fair number of her colleagues:

Nothing is moving in the foundations of physics. One experiment after the other is returning null results: No new particles, no new dimensions, no new symmetries. Sure, there are some anomalies in the data here and there, and maybe one of them will turn out to be real news. But experimentalists are just poking in the dark. They have no clue where new physics may be to find. And their colleagues in theory development are of no help. . . .

How long can they go on with this, you ask? How long can they keep on spinning theory-tales? 

I am afraid there is nothing that can stop them. They review each other’s papers. They review each other’s grant proposals. And they constantly tell each other that what they are doing is good science. Why should they stop? For them, all is going well. They hold conferences, they publish papers, they discuss their great new ideas. From the inside, it looks like business as usual, just that nothing comes out of it.

Another view, calmly presented: "Theoretical physics has not gone to the dogs".


"Quotation of the Day…"

Via Don Boudreaux, a marvelous bit from Paul Heyne that begins this way:

The first lesson to be taught is that when we run across a situation we don’t like – “outrageous exploitation of sick people,” for example – we should start by asking how the situation came about and why it persists.  What’s actually going on here? 

"When Social Security Sues A 6-Year-Old Over Its Own Mistake"

Even worse than the 6-year-old is Joan:

The worst case I've encountered was that of a disabled lady, who I'll call Joan. Joan, who was confined to a wheelchair, decided to try to write a book (a children's book) - one of the few things she could physically do.

To Joan's surprise, the book did well and she started receiving royalty checks - roughly $20,000 per year - for a number of years. Every year she contacted Social Security and asked if she could continue to receive Social Security disability benefits given her royalty income. Each time the Social Security officials told her that royalty income was different from labor income and does not trigger the system's Earnings Test, which reduces one's benefits 50 cents on the dollar for all earnings above a threshold.

Ten years later, Joan received a $300,000 bill from Social Security demanding immediate repayment of benefits, which the Social Security Administration "incorrectly," under its revised view, paid Joan over more than a decade.