November 16, 1973
Dear Mr. McCarthy:
I am writing to you in your capacity as chairman of the Drake School Board. I am among those American writers whose books have been destroyed in the now famous furnace of your school.
Certain members of your community have suggested that my work is evil. This is extraordinarily insulting to me. The news from Drake indicates to me that books and writers are very unreal to you people. I am writing this letter to let you know how real I am.
I want you to know, too, that my publisher and I have done absolutely nothing to exploit the disgusting news from Drake. We are not clapping each other on the back, crowing about all the books we will sell because of the news. We have declined to go on television, have written no fiery letters to editorial pages, have granted no lengthy interviews. We are angered and sickened and saddened. And no copies of this letter have been sent to anybody else. You now hold the only copy in your hands. It is a strictly private letter from me to the people of Drake, who have done so much to damage my reputation in the eyes of their children and then in the eyes of the world. Do you have the courage and ordinary decency to show this letter to the people, or will it, too, be consigned to the fires of your furnace?
November 16, 1973
Short film on the meaning of a design brief
Transformers 4 is a master class in economics
These reviews miss the point so badly that you wonder whether they weren’t written by Decepticons.
Transformers 4 is a master class in global economics. Over the course of 166 minutes — long for a film, sure, but short for a graduate-level econ seminar — Bay destroys economic shibboleths as if they were a major metropolitan area concealing the Autobots from Lockdown. His lessons are pitiless: inequality will keep rising, job security will keep falling, and American companies will contort themselves into all kinds of embarrassing positions to suck up to China.
And Michael Bay will keep making all of the money because he understands the changing economy much, much better than you do.
1. The real money is in owning machines
Transformers 4 made more than $300 million worldwide on its opening weekend — the biggest haul of any movie released in 2014.
But no one believes Transformers 4 had the best acting of any movie in 2014. And it sure as hell didn’t have the best plot. What it did have is the most, and most beautiful, robots and explosions of any movie released in 2014 — and perhaps of any movie ever. Michael Bay isn’t a genius at working with actors or scripts. He’s a genius at working with computers.
In his book “Average Is Over,” the economist Tyler Cowen writes that in the future, “workers more and more will come to be classified into two categories. The key questions will be: Are you good at working with intelligent machines or not? Are your skills a complement to the skills of the computer, or is the computer doing better without you?”
Bay’s skills are a complement to the computer. Without Bay, the computers can’t make a movie. Without the computers, Bay can’t make his movies. Together, though, Bay and the computers can make billions of dollars — while directors who mainly know how to work with human actors struggle.
This holds beyond movies, too. The most profitable hedge funds amp computers up with algorithms that let them trade faster than human beings can blink. The world’s leading manufacturers run plants where a few humans oversee miles of machines. As machines begin to make all the money, that money goes to the people who own or improve the work of the machines.
"If you and your skills are a complement to the computer, your wage and labor market prospects are likely to be cheery," writes Cowen. "If your skills do not complement the computer, you may want to address that mismatch."