Who should pay to fight urban homelessness?

Opposing taxes to help the homeless the same year you become the world’s richest human: not a great look.

This Ringer examination of the rise and fall of Seattle’s proposed “Head Tax” (a.k.a. “Amazon Tax”) mirrors something currently being proposed in San Francisco, in which large companies pay an additional per-employee tax to fund programs addressing the very problems created by their massive success — knock-on effects of income inequality and population surge, such as homelessness, traffic/transit congestion, displacement, etc.

No one wants to punish success, but as a resident of one of these cities, it’s getting dire. And at the end of the day, someone will have to pay a bit more to set up solutions to these problems.

Obviously these are intertwined; tax businesses more, wages might go down. Leave cities to solve these problems without raising taxes on anyone, that money comes out of other services. So: what’s the best pocket to pick here?

Who should pay more to battle homelessness – individuals, cities, or businesses?


How would you spend surprise bonus money vs bonus time?

Grey skies are gonna clear up; put on a revised worldview that adjusts expectations to reflect realityyyy…

When it comes down to it, we’re all chasing happiness in our own way. So it makes sense that a class that teaches happiness would be the most popular elective at Yale.

There’s plenty to discuss in this profile about what makes us happy, whether happiness is an earned outcome or more of a practiced outlook, but this self-reflective little question came ready-made for sharing here:

Pop quiz: If you suddenly found you had an extra $100, what would you do with it?

Now: What would you do if you suddenly found you had an extra hour?

With the money, chances are you’d be inclined to use it on a treat — to buy something you did not budget for otherwise, rather than paying off an existing debt. With time, it’s the opposite: There’s a good chance you’d use that hour to catch up on work, rather than go for a walk or visit a museum you’d otherwise not have time to do.

I posed these to a friend, and our answers didn’t quite match what the article proposes; both of us would use the extra time for pleasurable if good-for-us pursuits. Does that mean we’re… mostly happy? Did we win?

How would you spend an extra $100? What about an extra hour of free time?

What do your answers say about your situation and your priorities?

Review: Ingrid Goes West – Are Instagram ‘influencers’ the real monsters?

Tap twice to heart this post. #cinefile #nofilter #bestlife

My frustration at not seeing Ingrid Goes West sooner is matched only by my delight at having finally done so. Aubrey Plaza, whom I love (Parks & Rec!), plays unhinged one moment, socially awkward the next better than anyone else I can think of (have you seen Legion!?). The knowing portrayal of a certain type of California social media bohemian by Elizabeth Olsen manages both pinpoint accuracy and razor parody.

But the way the writers/director/cast refrain from fully picking a side makes this movie special. They could have fallen into the trap of stalker movie cliché pretty easily, and this could have ended at bad melodrama. Lonely weird girl tries way too hard to befriend internet obsession, craziness ensues.

Instead, this film shows sympathy for Ingrid. She’s not well, ok, but she really just wants some friends. Meanwhile Olsen’s Taylor is no innocent; she’s manipulative, insincere, and most of all a hollow mask of perfection. Her social media life cries out for constant attention, asks for you to “follow” her, to “feel” like her friend along for the perfectly bourgeois ride. But then Taylor the person pushes away anyone who gets too close if they’re not good for her diligently curated “brand”.

Ingrid suffers from depression and could get better, though the film’s ending suggests otherwise. Taylor, on the other hand, will likely only ever get worse. If that’s the case, who’s the real villain?

Are social media influencers monsters?

Do they sort of have to be to become one in the first place?

Is it possible to befriend someone you start off following on the internet, or with someone who starts off following you?

Either/Or: Live the rest of your life alone or in jail?

Once inside, they befriend tattooed Yakuza and form the basis of a hilarious sitcom.

Recently I stumbled across this eyebrow-raising article. In Japan, a country with the world’s oldest average age, the number of senior citizens committing crimes is on the rise — primarily because they are lonely. It seems that socially disconnected seniors would prefer the stability and community of prison over the more metaphorical solitary confinement of their later years.

Boy, those grandkids must feel record-breaking levels of guilty.

Would you choose living the rest of your life effectively alone, or living the rest of your life in prison?

What could change your answer? Do you think you’d feel differently as you age?


Review: Sea of Rust – What will robots fight over once we’re gone?

Guys? Little help? Trying to maintain the primacy of the individual over here.

Lately I’ve been gravitating toward sci-fi stories, no matter the medium. The way good sci-fi focuses so clearly on asking an interesting question, then exploring the implications of the answers that come back… strikes some chord deep in my brain.

Looks at website description above.
Oh. Right.

Sea of Rust doesn’t strive for literary prose or nuanced character study. But it does explore a specific potential version of a post-humanity world with a surprising depth of thought and feeling.

In this version, humanity created AI, and AI destroyed humanity. In the aftermath some AI are individuals, former servants or laborers scrounging for survival in a robotic Mad Max-style future. And they live in fear of hive-mind-style OWIs — skyscraper-sized “One World Intelligences” fighting to be the one and only being left on earth. OWIs want to subsume every other mind in existence; or use their mind-linked automaton armies to wipe out anyone who still clings to independence.

What it means to be an individual, what it means for a machine to have a soul, the long-term purpose of any “thinking thing” in the universe; these are big questions for a fun genre book full of robot gun fights. Instead of stopping at Terminator‘s Skynet, this book wonders what comes next when the artificial intelligences that outlive us start having conflicts among themselves.

What will the robots fight over once we’re all gone?

Is there anything essentially human they’d value enough to maintain in our absence?