Tuesday, March 31, 2009


America's bankers are oligarchs

Posted by Cory Doctorow, March 30, 2009 12:03 PM | permalink
Writing in the Atlantic, Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the IMF, takes a hard look at the econopocalypse and decides that the root of America's (and Europe's) economic woes is the cozy relationship between super-powerful bankers and government -- oligarchy. So, he says, we cannot fix the economy until we break up the banks, curb executive compensation in the finance sector, and turn it into "just another industry."

Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason—the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit—and, most of the time, genteel—oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders. When a country like Indonesia or South Korea or Russia grows, so do the ambitions of its captains of industry. As masters of their mini-universe, these people make some investments that clearly benefit the broader economy, but they also start making bigger and riskier bets. They reckon—correctly, in most cases—that their political connections will allow them to push onto the government any substantial problems that arise...

The government needs to inspect the balance sheets and identify the banks that cannot survive a severe recession. These banks should face a choice: write down your assets to their true value and raise private capital within 30 days, or be taken over by the government. The government would write down the toxic assets of banks taken into receivership—recognizing reality—and transfer those assets to a separate government entity, which would attempt to salvage whatever value is possible for the taxpayer (as the Resolution Trust Corporation did after the savings-and-loan debacle of the 1980s). The rump banks—cleansed and able to lend safely, and hence trusted again by other lenders and investors—could then be sold off.

Cleaning up the megabanks will be complex. And it will be expensive for the taxpayer; according to the latest IMF numbers, the cleanup of the banking system would probably cost close to $1.5trillion (or 10percent of our GDP) in the long term. But only decisive government action—exposing the full extent of the financial rot and restoring some set of banks to publicly verifiable health—can cure the financial sector as a whole.

This may seem like strong medicine. But in fact, while necessary, it is insufficient. The second problem the U.S. faces—the power of the oligarchy—is just as important as the immediate crisis of lending. And the advice from the IMF on this front would again be simple: break the oligarchy.

The Quiet Coup (via Making Light)

... (right-click > Learn Spelling) Wake up Obamamaniacs and get our Obomonomics in order: Break up the Big Banks, Big Pharma, and Big Energy, then we'll talk Big Government when the work is done.

Posted via web from numbone's posterous

Sunday, March 29, 2009

FFR: A "Keeper" for getting...

Brain Rules: Oliver Sachs meets GETTING THINGS DONE, paperback ships, DVD goes free

Posted by Cory Doctorow, March 28, 2009 5:40 PM | permalink
Avi sez, "John Medina, author of Brain Rules, an excellent summary of 13 neuroscience hacks applicable in daily life, has put the cool companion DVD online for free as an introduction to the paperback release of the book."

Here's what I wrote about Brain Rules when the hardcover came out:

Gadgets powered by Google

John Medina's Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School pulls off a terrific trick: combining popular science with touching personal memoir and a bunch of practical conclusions for improving work, education and personal life.

Brain Rules takes the brain's mysteries apart into twelve pieces: Exercise, survival, wiring, attention, short-term memory, long-term memory, sleep, stress, multisensory perception, vision, gender, and exploration. He discusses the best, most current science describing what drives each one, delving into psychology, neurology, evolutionary biology, and practical disciplines like behavioural economics, organizational science, and pedagogy.

Woven into the science are a series of vivid anaecdotes from Medina's life and from case histories gathered across the scientific literature, and emerging naturally from that are a series of eminently practical recommendations for reforming the workplace and the education system, and for improving the way that we interact with ourselves and others.

Medina's approach to the subject combines the best aspects of Oliver Sachs and Getting Things Done, making the book into something that's part manifesto and part education. The BrainRules.net site features a ton of audio and video about the book's subject (Medina's descriptions of the value of multisensory learning are very compelling) and other supplementary material, and the book comes bundled with a DVD containing much of this material as well.

Brain Rules in paperback

Brain Rules DVD online

... (forgetting?) things done. FFR (for future reference).

Posted via web from numbone's posterous

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Beautiful! Mesmerizing work! This Man Knows his maths...

Reuben Margolin's kinetic wave sculptures

Posted by David Pescovitz, March 27, 2009 9:12 PM | permalink

Kinetic artist Reuben Margolin was featured on a recent episode of MAKE: television. He uses salvaged wood, metal, cardboard, and other recycled materials to create massive mechanical wave sculptures. Absolutely incredible work.

... very well. His work recalls DaVinci.

Posted via web from numbone's posterous

Thursday, March 26, 2009

All us BBoomers better...

... follow this closely:
Read it carefully. Do not despair. Stick with it for a deeper understanding; we need all the helpful, mindful input at this time!

Posted via email from numbone's posterous

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Now HERE is someone with a goddamn pulse. And he's effing dead! What's it say about the rest...

Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention: King Kong (1968)

Posted by Richard Metzger, March 24, 2009 2:40 PM | permalink

Richard Metzger is Boing Boing's current guest blogger.

Utterly astonishing clip of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention at the BBC studios in 1968 performing a nine-minute workout of "King Kong."

I realize that the music of Frank Zappa tends to be what is called "an acquired taste" but in my never so humble opinion, this is one pretty darn tasty performance! I'm someone who considers him a genius, but I have reservations about the "smutty humor" aspect of his work. My own preference in Zappa's material tends to this era and the original Mothers of Invention. The collective "character" of the original Mothers can only really be compared to Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, if you ask me, where every musician was contributing an absolutely unique voice to the proceedings. It wasn't just the music, which was wonderful, but the personalities of the players themselves that made it so special. The Mothers came from diverse backgrounds, a bunch of SoCal n'er-do-wells who were tending bar, driving trucks and pumping gas by day, and by night, willing participants in Frank Zappa's quest to meld a bunch of wild men R-n-B freaks into a disciplined avant garde orchestra capable of playing Stravinsky-inspired free jazz on electronic instruments one minute, a sea shanty the next and then following that up with a little 50s doo wop sung in a helium falsetto. This performance of "King Kong " (taken from a BBC series called "Colour Me Pop" one of the first pop shows to be broadcast in color) and a second performance from French TV that same year show just how magnificently honed this group was. They stop and start on a dime. Watch for Zappa's idiosyncratic conductor's hand signals. Watch the duel drummers. AND TURN IT UP LOUD!!

Another clip of the original Mothers from French TV

posted in: Happy MutantsOld schoolVideomusic

... of us?!

Posted via web from numbone's posterous

Time to TAKE STOCK...

Congress considers inventory of spectrum use in America

Posted by Cory Doctorow, March 25, 2009 1:43 PM | permalink
A new bill before Congress calls on the NTIA and FCC to inventory the spectrum use in America. Previous work on this by the likes of the New America Foundation found that the vast majority of US broadcast spectrum was sitting fallow -- either squatted on by members of the National Association of Broadcasters (who get their spectrum for free but are theoretically required to put programming in it and use it in the public interest) or reserved from allocation to keep from interfering with licensed users (many of whom were not using their spectrum at all).

Three tiny slices of open spectrum, at 900Mhz, 2.5Ghz and 5.7Ghz, have created a massive economic and technological revolution through WiFi and other unlicensed uses of the public airwaves. The potential for new economic and technological gains from more open spectrum is unimaginable. Getting that spectrum into use is damned good policy, and long overdue.

My only concern is that the FCC will look for short-term cash gains by auctioning off all or most of the fallow spectrum for exclusive use, as has been done with 3G licenses. But this short-sighted approach trades the immediate gains from an auction for the perpetual income stream that arises from the commerce and activity that's enabled by open spectrum. Think, for example, of the total economic benefits that the nation and the world have derived from WiFi -- from cards and base-stations to hotspots to all the gains in efficiency and new opportunities created by wireless networking, and compare this to the paltry sums extracted by a few phone companies selling crippled, metered, filtered 3G network access.

The bill, entitled the Radio Spectrum Inventory Act, was introduced last week by John Kerry (D-MA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Roger Wicker (R-MS). It amends part of the Communications Act by adding a requirement for a national survey of what's being broadcast into our radio airwaves. The survey will cover everything from 200MHz to 3.5GHz, and will be run by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Federal Communications Commission, with input as needed from the Office of Science and Technology.
New bill calls for inventory of US spectrum

... and make sure what's ours stays ours. Write, call, support this work for future best use of the airwaves. Let's make sure we get our money's worth.

Posted via web from numbone's posterous

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Wikileaks needs your help

Posted by Cory Doctorow, March 22, 2009 9:13 AM | permalink
Wikileaks needs your help:

Wikileaks is currently overloaded by readers. This is a regular difficulty that can only be resolved by deploying additional resources. If you support our mission, then show it in the way that is most needed. On average, each donation catalyzes the publication of around 150 mainstream press articles, exposing human rights abuses and corrupt government around the world. These exposures result in substantial reforms and have changed national election outcomes.

Wikileaks is overloaded by global interest (Thanks, PaulR!)

... we all need to honor TRUTH into the future to remediate our tired world. This man has a healthy dose of it ... ... enough to get us well again if you will but listen. Please donate.

Posted via web from numbone's posterous

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Time for the 21st Century "Smokey & d'Bandit" IV, V, &VI...

C'mon Hollywood: Put up the Do-Re-ME!!! Get some crashing over with! There's just enough stock here for the Three-quel!

Posted via web from numbone's posterous

Friday, March 13, 2009

Patriotism Due NOW...

... where are the rich, republican PATRIOTS NOW when their country needs them???

From MoveOn.org:

This is ridiculous. The media has been obsessing about President Obama's plan to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans—from 35% to 39.6%—even asking if that makes him a socialist.1 

But do you know what tax rate the wealthiest Americans paid on the top portion of their earnings at the end of Ronald Reagan's first term? 50%. 

Under Richard Nixon? 70%. Under Dwight Eisenhower? 91%!

Shocking, right? 

And for all the whining about rolling back Bush's irresponsible tax cuts, the truth is that Obama's plan cuts taxes for 95% of working Americans. Further, it closes huge tax loopholes for oil companies, hedge funds and corporations that ship jobs overseas so that we can invest in the priorities that will get our economy back on track.2

We saw a great chart in The Washington Monthly3 that shows just how absurd Republican complaints about Obama's budget are. Check it out and pass it on:


1. "A socialist? Obama calls back to insist no," The International Herald Tribune, March 8, 2009

2. "Tax Cuts," The New York Times, February 26, 2009

3. "Soaking the Rich (Redux)," The Washington Monthly, March 8, 2009

Posted via email from numbone's posterous

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I want Answers...

RELATED SECTIONS : Google / Internet

wolfram_alpha.jpgWouldn't it be great if you could ask your search engine a question in the same way you'd ask a person — and get the precise answer you wanted? You know the sort of thing: "How many rivets are there in the Golden Gate Bridge?" Try doing that with a search engine like Google and you'll get pages and pages of possible answers to wade through. But British scientist Stephen Wolfram is planning to launch a search engine that he claims will revolutionize searching for information on the Web.

The new search engine — called Wolfram Alpha — differs from conventional search engines in that users can ask questions using natural language and the search engine uses "knowledge models" to bring you the right answer. But does it really work, and will it be a Google killer? Wolfram says "yes" to the first question and "no" to second, insisting that Google and Wolfram Alpha will co-exist and offer different forms of searching. We'll have a better idea of how well it all works when Wolfram Alpha goes live this May.

Via Wolfram Blog

... dammit!

Posted via web from numbone's posterous

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

ees Mine, all mine...

Visualizing $1 Trillion as an endless field of bales of C-notes

Posted by Cory Doctorow, March 11, 2009 12:05 PM | permalink

... no speech here.

Posted via web from numbone's posterous

Bumping up to a new level of consciousness...

Media Cloud: Watching Media Flow

Posted by Dan Gillmor, March 11, 2009 6:54 AM | permalink

MediaCloudThe Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society's new Media Cloud

is a system that lets you see the flow of the media. The Internet is fundamentally altering the way that news is produced and distributed, but there are few comprehensive approaches to understanding the nature of these changes. Media Cloud automatically builds an archive of news stories and blog posts from the web, applies language processing, and gives you ways to analyze and visualize the data. The system is still in early development, but we invite you to explore our current data and suggest research ideas. This is an open-source project, and we will be releasing all of the code soon. You can read more background on the project or just get started below.

(Note: I'm a Berkman Fellow, but I'd highlight this even if I wasn't. This is an important project for helping us understand what's going on in media.)

... watch this for future mind-expansion of the cosmic mind. Get their feed.

Posted via web from numbone's posterous

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Enough with the "funny" words already...

Social media's history and trajectory -- talk notes from danah boyd

Posted by Cory Doctorow, March 10, 2009 3:06 AM | permalink
Astute social media researcher danah boyd -- now running her own lab at Microsoft Research -- has published the notes from an internal company talk she gave called "Social Media is Here to Stay... Now What?" It's a good condensation of the material in her dissertation, full of punchy insights into how social media evolved and what it's meant to society.
Social network sites became critically important to them because this was where they sat and gossiped, jockeyed for status, and functioned as digital flaneurs. They used these tools to see and be seen. Those using MySpace put great effort into decorating their profile and fleshing out their "About Me" section. The features and functionality of Facebook were fundamentally different, but virtual pets and quizzes served similar self-expression purposes on Facebook.

Teen conversations may appear completely irrational, or pointless at best. "Yo, wazzup?" "Not much, how you?" may not seem like much to an outsider, but this is a form of social grooming. It's a way of checking in, confirming friendships, and negotiating social waters.

Adults have approached Facebook in very different ways. Adults are not hanging out on Facebook. They are more likely to respond to status messages than start a conversation on someone's wall (unless it's their birthday of course). Adults aren't really decorating their profiles or making sure that their About Me's are up-to-date. Adults, far more than teens, are using Facebook for its intended purpose as a social utility. For example, it is a tool for communicating with the past.

Adults may giggle about having run-ins with mates from high school, but underneath it all, many of them are curious. This isn't that different than the school reunion. We all poo-poo the reunion, but secretly, we really want to know what happened to Bobbi Sue. Nowhere is this dynamic more visible than in the recent "25 Things" phenomena. While teens have been filling out personality quizzes since the dawn of social media, most adults only went through this phase once, as a newbie when they felt as though they really needed to forward the chain letter to 10 friends or else. The "25 Things" phenomenon took me by surprise until I started thinking about the intended audience. Teenagers craft quizzes for themselves and their friends. Adults are crafting them to show-off to people from the past and connect the dots between different audiences as a way of coping with the awkwardness of collapsed contexts.

"Social Media is Here to Stay... Now What?"

... Thanks to Cory for being a nexus in the net. The power of connection in this one post is phenomenal: I read your work all the time but have been overlooking this Danah Boyd character. As a 56 y.o. 'everyman' I recognized myself instantly in this piece as soon as I Wiki'd what a "flaneur" is! This is powerful stuff.
Now I have to go: my Facebook needs updating...

Posted via web from numbone's posterous

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Opt Out Now...

... Time to Boycott. defy gravity, Do Nothing: Successfully! Opt OUT. Share this liberally...

Posted via web from numbone's posterous

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Check out this website I found at noiseaddicts.com

What music do your favorite bands listen to?
| NoiseAddicts music and audio blog |

Posted via web from numbone's posterous

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Can you solve this paradox...

... it tickles me brain!

Posted via web from numbone's posterous

Exceptional Animation...

Well, this is neat. About the video above, one of our viewers/readers writes:

My name is Nick Harmer and I play the bass guitar in Death Cab for Cutie. I'm writing to you because Bill Barminski of Walter Robot fame just informed me that you'd be posting something about the video they recently completed for our song "Grapevine Fires" on Boing Boing.
Nick is right, and that amazing video is embedded above. Feast your eyes, mutants! I asked Nick to talk with us a little more about how the video came to be, and he very kindly obliged. He continues,
I couldn't be more excited that you might post something about our video, because, actually, to be completely honest, you are responsible for pairing Death Cab for Cutie with Walter Robot in a cupid sort of way, whether you know it or not.

I personally am a avid reader of Boing Boing while off the road and on the road, and seriously, you and the Boing Boing gang are responsible for many, many smiles in my life, thank you for that.

Last November you posted an item on Boing Boing tv about the Walter Robot video for Gnarls Barkley's Mystery Man and when I saw that clip, I knew that Walter Robot was the answer. Especially for our song "Grapevine Fires." So thank you again and again, Xeni, for not only enriching my life on personal level but on a professional level too. I'm not sure I would have discovered Walter Robot without your help.

Wow. I'm a massive fan of Death Cab, as are my fellow bloggers and Boing Boing video production colleagues, so -- Nick, you just blew my/our minds. Thank you! He continues:
During our last album, entitled Plans, I got frustrated with the amount of sometimes suffocating input that bands and labels felt they needed to give to filmmakers making videos, so along with my friend, director Aaron Stewart-Ahn, we came up with a concept to have 11 different filmmakers direct a video for each song on our album. The set up was simple, a lower budget with complete creative control. We held the line that no matter what you make as a filmmaker we will stand behind as a band. The "Directions" project as it was called turned out beautifully and the videos that were made surpassed anything we could have hoped for. So it made sense to keep this hands off philosophy for the videos for our newest album Narrow Stairs as well.

After seeing the Mystery Man video on Boing Boing (and other Walter Robot shorts, too) I just had a hunch that Walter Robot's style would be a perfect fit for our song "Grapevine Fires." When I first spoke with Bill and Christopher, I really had no specific direction in mind. I told them that I felt like we would have to match the lyrics somehow, without being too literal and that I really wanted their animation style to remain fragile and delicate amidst such a tragic song. At first I was worried about how they would walk the line that the song holds.

(Nick's email continues after the jump! - XJ)

This BoingBoing piece on a video featuring Death Cab for Cutie is quite pathetic, in a good sense. Love bOINGbOING!


Posted via web from numbone's posterous

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


... a gorgeous and elegant solution. We've got room for two of these.
Whatya think?

Posted via web from numbone's posterous


... a gorgeous and elegant solution. We've got room for two of these.
Whatya think?

Posted via web from numbone's posterous