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Dumb Software Pricing · I see that IBM has de­cid­ed to treat dual-core chips as one for software-pricing pur­pos­es. Par­don me for go­ing all cor­po­rate here, but the whole thing is still mo­ron­ic. I have this naïve no­tion that cus­tomers ought to pay a price that’s pro­por­tion­al to the val­ue re­ceived. In the case of IT in­fras­truc­ture, this might have to do with the num­ber of peo­ple us­ing it, or it might have to do with the size and im­por­tance of the busi­ness prob­lem, but I guar­an­tee it to­tal­ly has noth­ing to do with the num­ber of com­pute el­e­ments you’re run­ning. Why do we let this crazi­ness con­tin­ue?
Chinese Standing Up · When the Chi­nese Civ­il War end­ed in 1949, Mao Ze­dong fa­mous­ly said “China has stood up.” While it took an­oth­er forty years to get start­ed, the re­cent eco­nom­ic ex­plo­sion has been a world-changer. But that sto­ry isn’t over; there’s a re­mark­able piece in the NY Times this morn­ing out­lin­ing how the Chi­nese are do­ing a bit of stand­ing up on their own, eco­nom­i­cal­ly. They’re walk­ing away from those “cheap labour” man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs that have served as one of the main eco­nom­ic drivers of the last cou­ple of decades. At the end of the day, cheap labour doesn’t stay cheap. And while there are prob­a­bly some more “cheap labour” places for busi­ness­es to move—India, Africa—the con­se­quences for Chi­na have to be pro­found. And I can see the day com­ing, maybe not in my life­time but not that much fur­ther out, when the whole no­tion of mov­ing busi­ness­es around the world so you can pay peo­ple less has be­come, fi­nal­ly, self-defeating. What hap­pens then?
Whiskey-Bar Economics · One of the bet­ter on­line writ­ers on the lib­er­al/­mod­er­ate side of the spec­trum is “Billmon” at Whiskey Bar. He’s got a huge, in­for­ma­tive, statistics-laced piece on the gen­er­al state of the U.S. econ­o­my, worth a read by any­one who cares even a lit­tle bit. As an added bonus, in the com­ments some­one has post­ed a point­er to this, which (if even mod­er­ate­ly ac­cu­rate) is pret­ty as­tound­ing.
Server Pricing Surprise · I’ve been a lit­tle out of touch on com­put­er prices, so I took the time to browse through the Dell leaflet that showed up in the mail. I got a sur­prise. [Up­dat­ed. Daniel Shep­pard writes in to point that I was fooled by the Dell leaflet—I looked again and it was in­cred­i­bly misleading—the price in the “Windows” col­umn be­low is the to­tal price af­ter you add Win­dows. In each case, the price for Win­dows is $1,099 (still seems kind of ex­pen­sive). I fixed the table. It doesn’t prove much of any­thing any more. Dell leaflets suck. I suck­.] ...
On Work and Immigration · There’s an in­ter­est­ing op-ed in the New York Times by David Brooks (who’s re­cent­ly been serv­ing as ex­is­tence proof that right-wingers can still be in­tel­li­gent and in­ter­est­ing). He points out that the two re­al big dif­fer­ences be­tween the U.S. and Euro­pean economies is that they work hard­er in Amer­i­ca (350 hours a year, that’s a lot) and they let in im­mi­grants, a mil­lion a year in the last two decades. (Warn­ing, I’m pass­ing on his num­bers with­out fact-checking.) He concludes—right-winger, remember—that this is Why Amer­i­ca Is Win­ning, and on the im­mi­gra­tion fron­t, I think he’s ex­act­ly right. But I keep won­der­ing why work­ing 350 hours—9 or 10 weeks—more per year is con­sid­ered a good thing.
Unsimple Privatization · There’s an in­ter­est­ing ex­per­i­ment in eco­nomics go­ing on up here in Western Canada. The re­sults so far are as clear as mud, but in sci­ence that’s usu­al­ly a symp­tom that there’s new knowl­edge try­ing to squirm out. It’s all about buy­ing booze ...
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