The most pernicious cliche of our times [Article]

George Orwell pointed out that stale phrases mechanically repeated have dangerous political effects. Judith Shulevitz nominates “Disruptive Innovation”, a term coined by Harvard professor Clay Christenson to explain why upstart enterprises drive better-established companies out of business.

Sunlight in a bottle – ingenuity [Article, Video]

In 2002, Brazilian engineer Alfredo Moser invented a simple way to bring the sun’s light indoors: fill a clear plastic 2 liter bottle with water and two capfuls of bleach, then make a hole in the roof and secure it with a waterproof sealant. The result: 40 to 60 watts of free, natural light. Watch the video here.

If you are not the customer, then you are the product [Link]

[via GigaOm]

Facebook will pay out $9 million to approximately 614,000 users as part of a $20 million legal settlement that is intended to compensate users for the social network’s decision to display their pictures in “sponsored stories” ads without permission.

Is schooling absolutely necessary? [Article]

This will upset the apple-cart for a lot of folks – and that’s exactly why it’s worth a read:

Think about how we learn as adults: do we need to learn things by a certain time? Maybe, but only if that is tied to something real — you’re applying for a job that requires certain skills, or you’re working on a project that requires that you learn certain things. But most of the time, learning goes at your own pace, based on what you’re interested in and how much time you have and all kinds of other factors unique to your life situation. 

Then why do we insist that kids MUST learn certain things by the time they reach a certain age?

Does the world need more people? [Article]

Judge Richard Posner answers his own question: “I am dubious.”

Maybe children are actually an “inferior” good, valued most by poor people either because the children of the poor work to augment family income or because the family lacks the resources for such child substitutes as expensive cars, clothes, homes, entertainment, and travel. Increasingly in the wealthy countries both spouses work, increasing the opportunity costs to both parents of raising children.  …

There is no necessary connection between population and economic growth. The sharp decline of Europe’s population because of the Black Death is thought to have increased per capita incomes significantly by reducing the ratio of people to arable land, resulting in improved nutrition.

Viewing humans as economic “goods” is ________ (fill in the blanks with your own answer).

Startup advice for the not-mega-rich folks [Article]

Leo Babauta writes about advising his 13-year old to start her own vegan cupcake business, and how that advice was shaped by his own experience.

Screw the business plan. Planning, like perfection, is useless and stands in your way. Sure, you want to think things through, but planning is based on faulty information (we can’t know the future). Instead, experiment. Get started. Do. Then see what happens, and adjust. Flexibility is much more important than a good plan.

Playing tag for 23 years! [Article]

A story from earlier this year – eight buddies have been playing tag for the last 23 years. They’re in their 40’s, so the rules are slightly tweaked: the game is played only in the month of February, & has no geographical constraints. Hilariously ingenious!

The game they play is fundamentally the same as the schoolyard version: One player is “It” until he tags someone else. But men in their 40s can’t easily chase each other around the playground, at least not without making people nervous, so this tag has a twist. There are no geographic restrictions and the game is live for the entire month of February. The last guy tagged stays “It” for the year.

On the phenomenon of bullshit jobs [Article]

David Graeber finds that despite John Maynard Keynes’ prediction in 1930 that technological improvements would result in 15-hour work weeks in the Western worlds, that utopia is far from achievable. Instead, he thinks technology has been marshalled to make all of us work more, rather than less, in what he calls “bullshit jobs”:

rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world’s population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning not even so much of the “service” sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations. And these numbers do not even reflect on all those people whose job is to provide administrative, technical, or security support for these industries, or for that matter the whole host of ancillary industries (dog-washers, all-night pizza deliverymen) that only exist because everyone else is spending so much of their time working in all the other ones.

Definitely worth a read