Wandering Eye: The internet has been an 'economic disappointment,' Ben Carson hates selfies, and more

The internet, says William H. Davidow in the Harvard Business Review, has been "a colossal economic disappointment." He is talking about jobs, wage stagnation, and everything: Basically, technological innovation in the past has created many more jobs than it has displaced. The web—and all the apps, the cloud, the Google, etc.—has done the opposite. He's not saying these aren't great companies, of course. "But," he writes, "many of the largest Internet companies have for the most part taken revenue from existing companies without growing the total economy." This is true, and it's easy for anyone not steeped in Ayn Rand's fantasy world to agree with most of what Davidow—who is an engineer, venture capitalist, and author—has to say here. But it's hard not to think the apocalypse hasn't already hit when reading—in the Harvard Business Review—such pearls of literate wisdom as "The reason Google, Facebook, and Twitter can pay them such large salaries is that the Internet companies is [sic] so efficient they can generate high revenues with few employees." And "Low paid workers get the benefit of transfer payments and employers who will not pay hirer [sic] wages will feel less pressure to automate." Davidow then goes on to say that road and bridge infrastructure projects are a bad investment because millennials don't buy cars. This, he claims, is because they "are opting to spend their money on high tech things like tablets, smart phones, and high bandwidth access." Say what? The most expensive tablet costs under $1,000. The phone is half that and high bandwidth access is maybe $100 a month if you're very unlucky. The cheapest new car, by contrast, is $13,000—approximately 10 tablets and 10 phones. Kids don't buy cars because they can't afford them—just like Davidow (and the Harvard Business Review) can't afford a spell-checker. Either that, or, they just don't care. In my neighborhood there is a newish monster truck with a motto stenciled on the back window. The driver is not a millennial, for sure, but to judge by the spelling he may be a respected tech venture capitalist and author. It says "Brakes are for Pussy's." (Edward Ericson Jr.)


The woman who managed the Darcars group of car dealerships for years is suing the company after being passed over for a promotion and ownership stake, according to this gripping piece in The Washington Post. It's a story you would not normally expect to find in the Style section, but here's the hook: Tammy Darvish, the plaintiff, is suing her half-brothers and her father, to whom she devoted most of her life. Roxanne Roberts, who has helmed the section for years, weaves a dramatic family drama, beginning with John Darvish Sr.'s instruction that Tammy break off her engagement so she could devote more time to the business. "I didn't argue," Roberts quotes Tammy Darvish saying, "because I would have never argued." Thirty years later, she is arguing. It is a tragic tale of hard work, sexism, and the limits of the family-first ethic. (Edward Ericson Jr.)


Ben Carson, the former Hopkins neuroseurgeon and current conservative wingnut cause celebre, is in favor of banning the selfie. In The Washington Post's Outlook secton's spring cleaning issue, Carson says, "beyond the obvious narcissism of endlessly photographing oneself and blasting it over social networks for others to admire, selfies are dangerous — to animals, sports spectators, artwork and the rest of us." Yes, really. He cites the deaths of a Polish couple who fell off a cliff and a pilot who crashed his plane, both while trying to take a selfie. Not surprisingly, he's no fan of selfie sticks either. The selfie stick ushers in a new, even worse and more dangerous era for the form. "The stick doesn't just validate selfies by building a cottage industry around them," he writes. "It also says, 'Snap them everywhere!'

"Please stop." (Brandon Weigel)

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