Hopeful skeptics

The failure of education is that during 16 years students live in a world in which every problem has an answer. Then they graduate to find out that the world is not a model. That reality is more complex than any one answer. As they become adults and formal education clashes with reality the result is frequently anxiety or fanaticism. None are good choices. Education should embrace ambiguity. Teachers should stop pretending to know it all. My father was an astrophysicist. He had a PhD from Harvard. But his best contribution to my education was to explain to me that whatever I learned was but an approximation to an answer. He was a hopeful skeptic. He thought that through science humanity’s understanding of the world would increase. I am a hopeful skeptic as well. And what I teach my seven children is that what we now call knowledge is but Continue reading "Hopeful skeptics"

A Trump conservative agenda that make sense

I consider myself progressive and liberal. But if I try to put myself in the role of a Republican president here are a list of smart conservative agenda moves that I would consider. To me this list would do much better for Trump than depriving people from health care access, attacking free trade agreements, disrupting the relation with Mexico for no clear objective, attacking global diplomacy by increasing military spending and reducing State Department spending and a series of poor initiatives that Trump is proposing. So here’s what a “good Trump” could do with the tremendous political power he has.

Promote tax changes that create jobs:

Eliminate capital gains tax for anyone who uses the gains from a sale of real estate or financial assets to invest in private qualifying businesses that create jobs.

Health care changes that require going against the Pharma lobby:

Allow government to negotiate prices from Continue reading "A Trump conservative agenda that make sense"

NYC vs Bay Area vs Miami, Pros and Cons based on my experience in those three cities

NYC pros: Massive and diverse, tremendous amounts of smart ambitious people. It is the most beautiful city in the USA with great architecture and tremendous choice for different lifestyles. Every neighborhood has a personality. Unbeatable cultural and entertainment offer. Fantastic night life. Great educational institutions at all levels. Extremely well located for travel to Europe, more central than Miami or Bay Area. It is a walkable city. It has tremendous study and work opportunities. NYC cons: Weather is awful, extremely hot, extremely cold for 8 months of the year, only 4 months of California type weather. People put too much emphasis on themselves and their careers and less on family and friends. Too many people are aggressive, arrogant, overworked and stressed out. Even the same people behave this way when they are in NYC and become more sensitive and considerate when they leave even to nearby East Hampton. Taxes are Continue reading "NYC vs Bay Area vs Miami, Pros and Cons based on my experience in those three cities"

But daddy, how are babies made?

“But daddy how are babies made?”   Last Friday, during Shabbat, our daughter, Mia, popped the question: “How are babies made?” Nina, my wife, is 24 weeks pregnant, and Mia, who is only 5, really wanted to know how babies were made.   You would think that question is hard to answer to such young a child. Uncomfortable. My first attempt was to try to simplify things. I went for the famous seed story.   “You know how at school you have been growing plants? You plant a seed, and then a few days later you see a sprout coming from under the dirt? Well, I planted a seed and mom has a baby in her belly,” I said.   “But how. daddy, how did you plant the seed?”   “Well, that,” I said, “You will find out when you are older.”   “You mean when Continue reading "But daddy, how are babies made?"

The next Trump 

As depressing as Trump counter factual populism is, there is something even more worrying: the conditions that made Trump happen are not going away. These are elite education and a deteriorating job market.
As Trump says he loves the uneducated. And by tying lower education to residence and higher education to income, our society can’t stop producing his type of voters. The best universities in the USA can only accept about 3% of those who turn 18 every year. So a country that provides elite education for only 3% of its population shouldn’t be surprised, that a candidate who preys on the rest with reality TV appeal and groundless proposals, can get elected. 
And then there’s deteriorating job quality. Yes we still have jobs, like we still have car owners. But the trend towards massive automation is about to take a few more exponential steps. And as cars will Continue reading "The next Trump "

The world as seen from San Francisco 

Last night I had dinner in San Francisco with an illustrious group of people. Some of them would arguably be perceived as the smartest people around. Yet their worldview was very biased by their life in Silicon Valley. 
Examples:
A lot of the conversation on inequality centered around how zoning laws are pricing a new generation out of the housing market. True here. Not true in Atlanta, Berlin, Miami. Are restrictive zoning laws a problem? Yes, but are they the reason why there is inequality? Only partly, and depends where. I have another explanation for inequality and that is: inheritances, elite education, uneven distribution of talent.
Another Bay Area centric explanation was that pervasive technology is causing violence. Do we believe that Syrians or Libyans are killing each other because they have Facebook or Twitter? Not really. Hutus and Tutsis killed each other without smartphones and with machetes. I Continue reading "The world as seen from San Francisco "

Leo and I find the future

Today Leo (9) and I were on Messenger, using video, he in Madrid and me in Miami. We were having a long conversation as he walked around Madrid doing different things and I was doing my work. So we were virtually together for quite a while, happy the other person was there, sometimes silently. At some point Leo said to me. Dad, aren’t you glad we live in the future and you and I can do this? My reply was that for a long time I had beeen dissapointed about the future. Fabrice Grinda and I debated this point around 5 years ago and he was the first person who alerted me that the future was finally arriving. He knows I felt that when I was at university in the 80s we believed that by the year 2000 so much would be different, and it wasn´t. But over the last Continue reading "Leo and I find the future"