My New Road Computer

Some may remember a couple months ago, when I was in Florida, I was trying an iPad with bluetooth keyboard and mouse, to see if it was acceptable. It turned out that Apple frowns on mice with iPads. Monday, I went out and bought an ASUS ZenPad 10, with Android 6.0, and it seems to be working, but there is a weird problem. The right button on the mouse doesn’t give a menu; it acts like a back button. Which makes it impossible (for example) to open a link in a new tab. Anyone have any idea what the deal is?

The Value Of Argument

Kids, would you please start fighting?

The Wright brothers weren’t alone. The Beatles fought over instruments and lyrics and melodies. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony clashed over the right way to win the right to vote. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak argued incessantly while designing the first Apple computer. None of these people succeeded in spite of the drama — they flourished because of it. Brainstorming groups generate 16 percent more ideas when the members are encouraged to criticize one another. The most creative ideas in Chinese technology companies and the best decisions in American hospitals come from teams that have real disagreements early on. Breakthrough labs in microbiology aren’t full of enthusiastic collaborators cheering one another on but of skeptical scientists challenging one another’s interpretations.

If no one ever argues, you’re not likely to give up on old ways of doing things, let alone try new ones. Disagreement is the antidote to groupthink. We’re at our most imaginative when we’re out of sync. There’s no better time than childhood to learn how to dish it out — and to take it.

Beyond the danger to free expression, this is a large part of the danger of political correctness and groupthink on campus.

Bright Star

We did take a break from plumbing last night to go see the musical at the Ahmanson. It had some of the same cast as the Broadway production, including the lead, who was fantastic. Here’s the original review (spoiler free, with which I largely agree).

I saw Steve Martin live when I was young, during the Carter administration, and he was doing his SNL schtick, with the arrow through the head. But even then his banjo playing impressed. We also saw his band with Edie Brickell (co-author of the musical) at the Hollywood Bowl a couple years ago. I really think that Steve Martin is one of the most talented men of our age.

[Tuesday-afternoon update]

Jon Gabriel defends Steve Martin from James Lileks. I don’t often disagree with James, but Jon is right.

[Bumped]

Corporate Taxes

I’ve been saying this for years as well:

corporations don’t pay taxes — they collect them. Any taxes are actually paid by customers (higher prices), employees (lower wages), shareholders (smaller returns), etc. The ideal corporate tax rate is therefore zero, but politically that would never fly. Instead we have a tangled mess of corporate tax law, which benefits large corporations with their armies of lawyers and lobbyists. Small corporations which can’t afford all that are put at a competitive disadvantage, not to mention sole proprietorships which pay through the nose on everything.

But since we can’t get an ideal corporate tax rate, a flat and transparent corporate tax would be the next best thing. Our current system is the worst of all possible worlds: It diverts resources and manpower away from investment and innovation, and stifles entrepreneurs to the benefit of established interests.

On the other hand, our system creates endless possibilities for corruption and graft. So it has that going for it. Which is nice for Washington.

One other point: People are saying that most of the benefits of the tax bill go to the upper percentage. Ignoring the fact that you can’t cut taxes without cutting them on the people who pay the most taxes, cutting corporate taxes in fact effectively reduces indirect tax costs for all the people above, who are in all income brackets (particularly the employees and customers). As I wrote years ago, we can’t cut taxes, we can only cut (or increase) tax rates.

Military In Space

Nothing really new here for people who follow this sort of thing, but here’s as good an overview of Pentagon plans as you can get without a clearance. I think that if BFR and Blue Origin’s vehicles come to be, they’ll dramatically open new capablities and change a lot of doctrine and strategy.

[Update a few minutes later]

This seems related. A new report, titled Escalation and Deterrence in the Second Space Age. Looks interesting.

[Via Leonard David]

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!

Switch to our mobile site