Elsewhere

The boom in iPad sales is almost 50% in the financial industry, if you interpret this data the wrong way. It’s skewed because these survey participants are activations of Good Technology’s products, which are more likely to be of interest in regulated industries.

The boom in iPad sales is almost 50% in the financial industry, if you interpret this data the wrong way. It’s skewed because these survey participants are activations of Good Technology’s products, which are more likely to be of interest in regulated industries.

NYC Council Passes Sick Leave Bill


Kate Taylor, New York City Council Swiftly Passes Bill to Extend Paid Sick Days - NYTimes.com

The new, more emphatically liberal City Council was in full swing on Wednesday, expanding New York’s law on paid sick leave from the watered-down version passed last year and approving a resolution supporting Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for expanded prekindergarten.

Shortly after taking office in January, Mr. de Blasio, along with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, announced that the Council would broaden the sick leave law, which has yet to go into effect, to apply to more businesses.

The new law will require businesses with five or more employees to provide up to five paid days off a year if the employees or their relatives become ill. The original law applied only to businesses with 15 or more employees. The new law will take effect in April, when the original law was set to take effect.

Mayor Bill de Blasio visited a prekindergarten class at Public School 130 in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday, after a news conference about his preschool plan.De Blasio Says New York Can Add 29,000 Pre-K SeatsFEB. 25, 2014
“No one should have to choose between their job and their health,” Ms. Mark-Viverito said at a news conference before the Council meeting. “No parent should have to choose between caring for a child and putting food on the table.”

Mr. de Blasio said in a statement that the new law would extend paid sick leave to 500,000 more workers. “From waitresses and dishwashers to store clerks and carwash workers,” the mayor said, “New Yorkers across the five boroughs will finally have legal protection to a basic right that so many of us take for granted each day — and employers will benefit from a stronger and healthier work force.”

The city government is stepping in to rectify a wrong in our society, where the well-off and well-jobbed get access to sick leave, while hourly employees often don’t.

The push for rectification of inequality can’t come from Washington these days, when the GOP can foil any progressive legislation. We are going to see real change emerge at the city level, as in this case, and at the state level for things like marijuana legalization, and other employment protections. Don’t expect Obama to be able to do much of anything given his low approval level and an intransigent GOP-dominated House.

Drones

talkingatthemovies:

The “Terminator” franchise proposes a future in which humans are fighting against Skynet, an Artificial Intelligence. At least that’s what the humans think they are fighting.

An alternative way to think about this future, is that there is no Artificial Intelligence. Instead, the elites have separated themselves from the proletariat and have begun a genocidal war against them using killer drones.

Which future is more likely? A menacing singularity or a group of resistance fighters being hunted down by drones from an unknown enemy? I imagine that it must feel a lot like the latter in Afghanistan. Polls show that 92% of Afghans have never heard of 9/11. They are presently fighting a war with no history, and no future.

(via slavin)

"92% of Afghans have never heard of 9/11. They are presently fighting a war with no history, and no future."

Socialogy: Interview with Charlene Li

Rolls-Royce Drone Ships Challenge $375 Billion Industry: Freight - Bloomberg

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-25/rolls-royce-drone-ships-challenge-375-billion-industry-freight.html

The real action to date on driverless vehicles has been military (canonical ‘drones’), and commercial transport (like mining, and rail transportation, like the trains at airports). Next up: giant cargo ships.

excerpt

In an age of aerial drones and driverless cars, Rolls-Royce (RR/) Holdings Plc is designing unmanned cargo ships.

Rolls-Royce’s Blue Ocean development team has set up a virtual-reality prototype at its office in Alesund, Norway, that simulates 360-degree views from a vessel’s bridge. Eventually, the London-based manufacturer of engines and turbines says, captains on dry land will use similar control centers to command hundreds of crewless ships.

Drone ships would be safer, cheaper and less polluting for the $375 billion shipping industry that carries 90 percent of world trade, Rolls-Royce says. They might be deployed in regions such as the Baltic Sea within a decade, while regulatory hurdles and industry and union skepticism about cost and safety will slow global adoption, said Oskar Levander, the company’s vice president of innovation in marine engineering and technology.

“Now the technology is at the level where we can make this happen, and society is moving in this direction,” Levander said by phone last month. “If we want marine to do this, now is the time to move.”

[…]

Crews will offer no safety advantage after ships evolve equipment for remote control, preventive maintenance and emergency back-ups, Levander said. Unmanned ships will need constant and comprehensive computer monitoring to anticipate failures in advance and “redundant” systems to kick in, similar to those on airplanes, he said.

The computers would also be constantly analyzing operations data to improve efficiency and save money, he said. Cameras and sensors can already detect obstacles in the water better than the human eye.

[…]

Human error causes most maritime accidents, often relating to fatigue, according to Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty AG. Total losses are declining, with 106 in 2012, 24 percent below the 10-year average, according to the most recent data from the unit of the Munich-based insurer.

Unmanned ships would also reduce risks such as piracy, since there would be no hostages to capture, Levander said. It would also eliminate liability for repatriating sailors when owners run out of money or abandon crews, which has stranded at least 2,379 people in the past decade.

Drone ships would become vulnerable to a different kind of hijacking: from computer hackers. While the technology may never be fully secure, it needs to be so difficult to break that it’s not worth the effort, according to Levander.

Unmanned ships would still require captains to operate them remotely and people to repair and unload them in port. These workers would have better quality of life compared with working at sea, Levander said.

The end of the merchant marine, and a great backdrop for fiction: stowing away on a South Pacific transport from Vietnam, a family of six tries sneak into the US.

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