The Uberification of Society

The Uberification of Society: Empowerment or Race to the Bottom?

There was a great program on ON POINT RADIO recently (6/1/2015) on the topic

First, my overall take on this topic in Summer 2015: the uberification overall will be an equalizer or “race to the bottom” depending on who you are and industry you work in, and your place in it. Yes, it will mean some interesting choices for consumers, and some workers will feel free/empowered, but this will be outweighed by the overwhelming effect that quality of life, standard of living will drop.

Why? The big ticket items in life are:
– housing
– food
– healthcare
– college
– retirement

All of these are getting more expensive. So having a new gadget (in the form of a smartphone or GPS or an Uber-like-service) is not going to come close to outweighing the negative impacts on a huge reduction in stable long-term and full-time employment with benefits coming from your company. In countries where there are already strong gov’t programs in place for health care. And strong laws in place giving people time-off, they might be better positioned. But even time-off seems very employee-centric and won’t apply when you are self-employed. So we’ll see what develops.

This topic is also connected to other current memes that weren’t mentioned during the show:
– work being tied to getting the work done as specified, not hours worked
– telecommuting and software that allows people to work from N different offices (or their homes)
– flextime / flexitime
– Virgin calls it “flexible working”. In the news is how they offer “unlimited time off”
– employee-owned companies (coops got a quick mention but a company is a little different) e.g.
– unions
– sabbaticals
– working smarter not longer
– overtime
– 4-day work week – “Slim is the owner of Telmex, an American phone company, and has actively and enthusiastically embraced flexibility in his organisation. He has instituted programs for workers eligible for retirement to opt to work four day weeks on full pay. He has also controversially suggested we should all be working a three day work week”
– forced-retirement — some organizations (like the UN) force people to retire pretty early, like age-60, before many are ready/willing/interested to retire
– job sharing. 2 people splitting one job


OK, some tidbits from the radio show:

HUGE list of “uber-like” apps beginning at 6:40. Crazy!

point repeated being made that we need safety nets to not be attached to specific jobs.
– healthcare
– time off (vacations, sickness, maternity and paternity leave)
– pensions
– 401ks
– what else?

Example: google empowering website owners to make money via. But dad for full-time jobs with insurance (34:40)
Already 20% and 10-15% moonlighting. In a decade: more than 50% freelancing.
(At roughly 36 minutes in… talking to Arun Sundararajan)

“The basic building blocks of capitalism are being revolutionized…” (26:00)
No employees and no assets. Owns as little as it possibly can. (26:30)

Why now? Kozmo (1998) failed, but technology and economy are different now. Ready for it.
– coincided with technology (everyone has smartphones/GPS. not special equipment)
– people are desperate for work
– good for students
– good for consumers options in certain segments. “Live like kings and queens?”
– If you’re a middle-aged man or woman with bills to pay, you’re in trouble

What needs to change? (39:00)
– many european countries are much more ready for this new economy because of luck. bad luck for US (39:40)
– STATE needs to be responsible OR – obamacare is a step
– (40:30) OR platforms (uber/lyft/etc) will step up to give benefits to prevent employees from switching to a different one (or be required to)
– OR drivers will form coops — collective “uber” (41:40)
– — platform for safety net (41:10) — health insurance/workers comp — REF:

– quoting Tom Goodwin in Techcrunch
“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.”

– “Companies want to get down to 0 if possible. It’s the capitalism of nothing… zero commitments to people longterm.” – Adrian Wooldridge (at 42:50)
– marketmakers. Only an algorithm. Employ spare “capacity” (unemployed people, free homes, cars, etc.)

– “Sounds like a present, and certainly future in which we’re all going to have to be very Zen to flow thru all this marvelous fluidity… if indeed it’s marvelous.” — Tom Ashbrook

A commenter: “A floating slave workforce in the land of the greedy just waiting around to fan the pharoahs.” (37:00)

“A hard time for workers in general. A lot less income stability over time.”

“If you are a middle-aged man or woman with a family and bills to pay, mortgage to pay, you’re suddenly projected into a much more uncertain world” (38:30)

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Filed under uberification, work

Shel Silverstein rockin’ the SVS vibe

The Voice
poem by Shel Silverstein


Sudbury Valley School and Sudbury Model Schools

The Voice

There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel this is right for me,
I know that *this* is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you–just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.

― Shel Silverstein

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REVIEW: Sorry EWG… physical sunscreens aren’t doin’ it for me… but….

Physical (not chemical) sunscreens are well-loved by the testing for bad things at EWG but:

1. They are difficult to apply and you end up looking white and doesn’t feel great

“Buying a more expensive sunscreen with fewer potentially harmful chemicals that feels gross, smells weird, and doesn’t make you want to reapply is going to result in skin damage that will far exceed any potential damage done by chemicals.”

2. The “data gaps” in what EWG is able to figure out is good or bad is pretty large. So even if you take the top performers, if 50% of the stuff they don’t know about ends up being bad, then that completely rejiggers the scale of good vs bad. They’d still probably be better than others, but not quite a good. For example, EWG a few years ago added the “physical” and “chemical” filters and also a “no nanoparticles” option, since there is disagreement on whether that’s safe.

REVIEW: Beyond Coastal Active SPF 34 Sunscreen

But I haven’t completely given up!
1. Endocrine disrupters are nasty things, so if you CAN find a sunscreen that doesn’t have them (or less of them) then it’s worth it.
2. Broad spectrim UVA and UVB is worth it
3. There are some chemical sunscreens that do well on EWGs scale and since they are chemical, not physical, they don’t have all the problems.

A few years ago I found an EWG pick that smells fine, goes on fine (as in, the kids can do it themselves and without complaint), and ok, is kinda expensive, but oh well. The kids needs sunscreen almost year round since they are outside at so much.

Amazon, around $14 but I’ve also seen it at Whole Foods I believe for about the same price.

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Filed under reviews, safety

Find the parent? or call 911?

Several times in the last few weeks I have heard of cases where a stranger finds a kid fine and safe but without their parent and calls 911 instead of just finding the parent.

This includes:
1. Stroller right outside starbucks. With dog attached on leash! Call 911 or find parent in line?
2. Mom picking up a car seat at an apt building — like a craigslist purchase — and kid is sitting in the car in the parking lot like 20 feet away. Call 911 or ask adult by open door if it’s their kid?
3. This article. (Kid playing at park within view of house)

Comment there from someone at that I hadn’t heard of before…

“At the National Association of Parents, in radio and press interviews, we have advocated for a triage of calls reporting children alone:

(1) Does the child appear to be hurt?
(2) Does the child appear to be in distress?
(3) Does the child appear to be in imminent danger of harm from an identifiable source of harm?

If the answer to all three questions is “no,” then law enforcement has no business getting involved (other than MAYBE to drive by to confirm that the answer indeed is “no”). Otherwise, the misuse of finite resources and the misapplication of authority becomes routine.”

That’s maybe more than some people can handle… but seems totally reasonable for folks to ask themselves the 3 questions and talk to the kid and/or look for the parent first.

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Filed under free-range kids, free-range parenting

The Origin of The King Ravine Rock Glacier in The Presidential Range of the White Mountains of New Hampshire


(Good photos and diagrams at the link above…)

“A Masters Thesis written in 1978 by Diane Eskenasy, then a University of Massachusetts grad student, was titled The Origin of The King Ravine Rock Glacier in The Presidential Range of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Her thesis, and several others on various topics, somehow, or other, ended up at Tuck Shelter some years ago and they’ve been sitting in the book shelf there to be read by a few curious souls. I’ve been curious about the “rock glacier” in King Ravine for years and have wanted to camp in King Ravine for a few days to explore its nooks and crannies. The rock glacier is reported to be the only one of its kind in New England. They are commonly found in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and Wyoming. Ms Eskenasy wrote: “King Ravine, one of the north facing cirques on the Presidential Range, contains an inactive rock glacier, a mass of rocks having the morphology of an alpine glacier.””

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Poor Claude (Monet)

“I was born undisciplined. Never, even as a child, could I be made to obey a set rule. What little I know I learned at home. School was always like a prison to me, I could never bring myself to stay there, even four hours a day, when the sun was shining and the sea was so tempting, and it was such fun scrambling over cliffs and paddling in the shallows. Such, to the great despair of my parents, was the unruly but healthy life I lived until I was fourteen or fifteen. In the meantime I somehow picked up the rudiments of reading, writing and arithmetic, with a smattering of spelling. And there my schooling ended. It never worried me very much because I always had plenty of amusements on the side. I doodled in the margins of my books, I decorated our blue copy paper with ultra-fantastic drawings, and I drew the faces and profiles of my schoolmasters as outrageously as I could, distorting them out of all recognition.”

== Claude Monet, quoted in: Denis Rouart (1972) Claude Monet, p. 21 : About his youth

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Filed under outdoors, quotes, school = prison, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School, The three Rs

effects #37: The road to hell is paved with good intentions

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Filed under erik-green, green, legal action, personal action vs movements, productivity vs procrastination, shifting baseline