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Numbers, Volume 25

These boomers need to revolt

Unemployment for middle-aged workers like Mr. Blattman is the highest it’s been since data was first collected 60 years ago. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, joblessness is worse for men over 45 (7.7 percent in July) than women the same age (6.9 percent). And while the middle-aged are still more likely to have jobs than younger workers, once people Mr. Blattman’s age are laid off, finding a new job is harder. In 2008, laid-off people over 45 were out of work 22.2 weeks, versus 16.2 weeks for younger workers.

I find this trend (tragically) fascinating. One, it air-hammers excessive nails into the coffin of retirement (good luck to my generation ever retiring unless we catch that leprechaun). Two, what are all these out of work boomers going to do? This is the generation that seemed to turn its hippie sentimentalities (or “PC,” if you’re on the other side of the fence) into “think-out-side-of-the-box” industrialism. They can’t just sit around doing nothing: they’ll go crazy.

You know how you always hear how we should be worried about 2nd world countries where there’s hoards of unemployed (male) “youths,” who’ll start global trouble? Yeah, imagine if you had hoards of management-trained gray-hairs bored out of their mind and angry at a society that’s basically cast them out like empty paper-towel rolls. It’d be a weird, fascinating gray-revolt much different than you’re daddy’s Oldsmobile. I just hope they stop making Woodstock movies.

Broadband in the USA

The study also pointed to the relatively slow rate at which the average U.S. broadband speed rose in recent years, gaining only about 1.6 Mpbs since May 2007. That was a much slower increase than was seen in the U.S. states with the fastest speeds.

California, perhaps the nation’s most high-tech-friendly state, ranked only 11th among the 50 states, well behind the national leaders. Still, the state’s 6.6 Mbps average put it ahead of where it was two years ago, when it ranked 22nd among states, with barely more than 3 Mbps.

Delaware residents now enjoy the nation’s fastest broadband at 9.9 Mbs, nearly twice the national average — and up more than 5 Mpbs since 2007. At the lower end of the speed range, sparsely inhabited states such as Idaho, Alaska and Montana were well below the national average, clocking in around 2.5 Mbps.

We recently canceled our cable at Casa de Coté. I would gladly have taken that extra money (about $60/month) for faster internet. That’s all I want now-a-days from my telcos: faster internet. And one that doesn’t just randomly go down once a week – you know, requiring the “reboot the router shuffle.” But they keep trying to sell me cable instead.

Tech Style

Over 1000 UK consumers aged between 18 and 55 were questioned by Microsoft, and 40 per cent admitted that the style and appearance of a given gadget is now much more important to them than it was five years ago.

A massive 43 per cent of those surveyed also said they would rather spend their money on a piece of technology than an item of clothing. Six out of ten respondents even confessed to leaving a new gadget on the table for envious friends to gape at, Microsoft discovered.

Watching Welcome to the Macintosh recently, Guy Kawasaki summed up the design problems in the non-Mac world well: “they don’t know what to steal.” Outside of Apple-land, companies seem to be picking up on this skill – introducing industrial design into hi-tech. It’s a tough one to swallow though: it’s hard to wrap ROI around it ahead of time, it’s hard to engineer and MBA it. I mean, do they even teach design to programmers and managers?

Agile QA

Speaking of ROI…

An impressive majority of [“more than 100” surveyed] software development organizations (77%) report that they have adopted agile methods, at least for some of their projects. And according to the data most of these organizations (53%) found that agile-developed software is easier to support due to frequent product releases and customer involvement during development.

[A]bout a third (34%) reported that agile-developed products are usually released with fewer defects, thus reducing the need for software maintenance, while only 3% found more defects.

Austin Shocker

The city has been collecting data at the pool since 1978, and sensors in the main springs in a cave below the diving pit have automatically taken a temperature reading every 15 minutes since 2003. Other than a drop of a few tenths of a degree last spring, the water has been coming out at a near constant 70.9 degrees for more than a year.

Proving that one man’s pork is another man’s…new car

The scheme is part of Obama’s $787bn package to stimulate the US economy and, in an interview on Thursday, he said it had been “successful beyond anybody’s imagination”.

Under the scheme, the government ensures car owners receive rebates of $3,500-$4,500 off the price of a new car. An estimated 450,000 extra cars have been sold.


Ray LaHood, the transport secretary, said the programme had been a “a lifeline to the automobile industry, jump-starting a major sector of the economy and putting people back to work”. Car dealers estimated they have made deals worth $1.9bn.

In a variation of the programme, the Obama administration is to introduce a cash-for-appliances deal this autumn. People will be offered up to $200 for trading in old, inefficient fridges, dishwashers, air-conditioning units and other household appliances. The total pot is $300m.

I love this type of socialism-through-pork: “Comrade! How is our new, subsidized by the bourgeoisie tax pork washing machine doing? Our new fuel efficient car is remarkable!”

I’m not actually that kind of right-wing nut-job, but I’m hopefully people look at these “government handouts” as a hypocrisy avoidance data-point next time they label something “pork,” which is American English for “money the government didn’t give to me.”

It reminds me – in an admittedly back-handed way – of the end from one of Chris McGreal’s excellent pieces on the hollowed out life along Route 66, here, poorer folks talking about their distrust of “big government” in regards to health-care and anything in general:

Banes said she doesn’t have confidence in the [US federal] government to look after her interests even if the state of Oklahoma is providing free healthcare to her children.

“If for some reason Oklahoma state’s healthcare failed then I would have something to worry about because of my children, I know. But I’m really not going to worry about it because that’s one more thing to put on the plate. I don’t really trust the government,” she said. “The Lord has a plan and if anything happens, then it’s meant to be”.

Levy, too, voted for McCain.

“There’s a lot of people with health problems who really need help and they have no place to turn,” she said. “But the government? People who run government don’t care about people like us. And there’s a lot of people need to know that there’s someone who cares about them.”

Meanwhile, related in email land:

A recent report (PDF) by security firm MX Logic indicates nearly 70 per cent of spam in August was related to the topic of health.

GPL Duck Hunting

I just noticed that in the first week of August, the GPL version 2 open source license dropped below the 50% share mark for the first time since we started tracking this data in 2007. Up until this point, a majority of open source projects were using the GPLv2 license. GPLv2 share has fallen pretty steadily.  In July 2008, GPLv2 was used by 57.7% of all projects. Today it stands 8% lower at under 49.6% (which means roughly 100,000 projects). During the same period, LPGL 2.1 is down about 1% and GPLv3 is up 3.4%.

Email from Eran Strod, Black Duck Software.

Disclosure: Microsoft is a client.

Categories: Numbers.