Four For Friday (23)

A reason behind this series was for me to keep track of my own varied reading. Everything, while appearing disjointed, really is connected. Often there is a unifying theme too. Can you see this week’s?

Much has been written lately about terminology. An “immigrant” has fewer rights than a “refugee” but has exercised more autonomy in arriving in a country that promises her a better future. To an alien, especially one reading European press it would seem immigrants remain just a smidgen more welcome than refugees. Should Europe be worried as much as it is? Click here to see where the refugees come from and where they go.

Should Europe instead worry more than the USA constantly gets high quality immigrants, as Scott Sumner writes here?

One of the reasons why the US is more unequal than a place like Germany, especially at the very top, is that the US is host to economic engines like Wall Street and Silicon Valley and Hollywood. I suppose you could throw in fracking. There’s no particular reason why continental Europe couldn’t have its own Wall Street, or Silicon Valley or Hollywood or fracking industry, but they don’t. Britain has “the City” which is sort of the Wall Street of Europe, and that adds to inequality in Britain. But Europe failed to attract the other engines of wealth creation and inequality that are as dominant as the US examples. Europe’s industries tend to be less of the boom/bust variety that often lead to great wealth, although they certainly have their share of billionaires.

From self-driving cars at Google to teaching and learning at Udacity, Sebastian Thrun outlines the problem with technology.

“Because of the increased efficiency of machines, it is getting harder and harder for a human to make a productive contribution to society.”

In a week when Apple announced more new products — and a plan (in some countries) for annually leasing iPhones — there is no need to wonder about what happens to our old mobile phones. In the EU, the manufacturer must take back end of life electric and electronic goods. Everyone from Mercedes to Apple offers recycling returns; if in working order, Apple devices recycling earns you a neat sum too. But we don’t know what happens to our best intentions & their regulation compliance.

We reached the shore, and looked across the lake. I’d seen some photos before I left for Inner Mongolia, but nothing prepared me for the sight. It’s a truly alien environment, dystopian and horrifying. The thought that it is man-made depressed and terrified me, as did the realisation that this was the byproduct not just of the consumer electronics in my pocket, but also green technologies like wind turbines and electric cars that we get so smugly excited about in the West. Unsure of quite how to react, I take photos and shoot video on my cerium polished iPhone.

It being Friday and New York Fashion Week, let’s finish with a note on style.

“On having his own style icons: “Why should I . . . I am one!””

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