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The Top Left Corner — 2020/12/30

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Stuff we talked about:

LIGHT (OR NOT)

  We think; therefore, it is. In explaining the hypothesis that the universe simulates itself into existence. Physicist David Chester elaborated: “While many scientists presume materialism to be true, we believe that quantum mechanics may provide hints that our reality is a mental construct. Recent advances in quantum gravity, such as seeing spacetime emergent via a hologram, also is a hint that spacetime is not fundamental. Employees as Guinea pigs — sad, screwed over Guinea pigs. There have been way too many stories like this lately, but here’s a particularly cruel one from our 2020 Scrooge slush pile. The web domain registrar and hosting company GoDaddy sent its employees an email in mid-December promising them a $650.00 bonus. Turns out it was a test to see how adept GoDaddy’s workers were at spotting phishing scams. Everyone who responded to the email failed. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9087667/GoDaddy-slammed-cruelty-sent-500-employees-email-saying-getting-650.html Fun fact: GoDaddy’s CEO, Aman Bhutani, takes home a base salary of $1 million/year according to the company’s latest SEC filings.

LOCAL:

The show must go on eventually…but until then, what? The New York Times is reporting on the looming “cultural depression” that’s about to hit the performing arts. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/26/arts/unemployed-performer-theatre-arts.html To be clear, we’re not worried about Tom Cruise or Cardi B. According to the article, the median full-time professional performer’s salary is a little over $40,000.00 for musicians and actors, and around $37,000.00 for dancers and choreographers. Our cultural institutions here in the Berkshires are an immensely important part of our economy, but they don’t seem to be getting the kind of support they need from local, state, and federal government. We’ve already lost the 2020 summer season. Can our music venues, theaters, museums, and individual artists ride out a repeat in 2021? Stephen Sheppard, an economics professor at Williams, has done some interesting work on the relationship between the arts and economic growth. Here’s a paper of his from 2013 describing how cultural institutions create permanent local prosperity: https://www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/Research-Art-Works-Williams1.pdf Is Charlie Baker listening to our show? He seems to have taken one of our suggestions, specifically the one where we told him Massachusetts needs to give small businesses (and their workers) money while they’re suffering through the pandemic. Unfortunately, the money will be distributed through the Massachusetts Capital Growth Corporation, which places onerous paperwork requirements on applicants for the money and requires a whole bunch of follow-up from recipients on how they spent their grants. What exactly is the hangup our political leaders have about simply giving people money? https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/12/23/business/baker-unveils-668-million-relief-plan-help-small-businesses/?s_campaign=breakingnews:newsletter The government of British Columbia in Canada has different ideas. In 2018, a population of 50 unhoused people were given $7,500.00 with no elaborate qualification process and no follow-up requirements about how the money could be spent. The results speak for themselves: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/new-leaf-project-results-1.5752714 Could it be that people know how to allocate resources for themselves better than an elaborate bureaucracy?  

NATIONAL:

Now that you Voted Blue, No Mattered Who, let’s talk about the future. No one puts ideas into words quite like Chris Hedges, a former New York Times bureau chief who was ultimately fired from that paper for his lefty views. He’s got a fresh take on our liberal class here in the US. Spoiler alert: He’s not a fan. Check it out here. https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/12/09/end-we-will-all-pay-cowardice-liberal-class

THIS WEEK’S CONTEST:

Last week, we observed that our glabrous online retail tycoon, Jeff Bezos (the richest man in the world as of the date of this writing), bears a striking resemblance to Lex Luthor, one of the supervillains in the DC Comics universe. Using the headshots at this link (https://www.thewealthyniche.com/rich-list/richest-people-in-world/) pick one billionaire and tell us in 50 words or less which supervillailn from the universe of your choice–Marvel, DC, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, etc.–he or she most closely resembles. Please send your entry to [email protected] before midnight ET on Tuesday, December 29. The writer of the most creative and accurate profile will receive our special prize, to be announced live on our next show, Wednesday, December 30, 2020 at https://www.radiofreeberkshires.com/shows/radio-free-berkshires-morning-panel/. We hope you’ll join us from 9:00-11:00 am ET on Wednesday, December 30 for our live broadcast at https://www.radiofreeberkshires.com/shows/radio-free-berkshires-morning-panel/. Until then, stay safe and remember that there is power in a union…

–Jay and Steve

TLC Episode 94

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