Sunday, December 29, 2013

Recovery or Reinflate a Bubble?

In the world of central bankers, it's hard to tell the difference --

How UK wonder substance graphene can't and won't benefit UK | Science | The Guardian: "... this recovery – built on house prices and mountainous personal debt and all the old vices – isn't the one Osborne and David Cameron wanted. When the pair moved into Downing Street, they swore that austerity would 'rebalance'' the economy towards manufacturing and business investment and exports. In other words, this was meant to be a recovery made of graphene. And the way to get it was to stop a bloated state "crowding out'' businesses. "Ministers thought the problem was the government spending too much," says Duncan Weldon, senior economist with the TUC. "And that if they simply lowered corporation tax and cut the cost of capital, companies would invest more." On that score, Osbornomics has been an undeniable failure. According to official forecasts from June 2010, business investment should have risen 35% by now; it's only increased 1%. Nor has the promised export boom turned up, despite the pound's plunge making our goods much cheaper abroad...."

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tory MPs, Lies

UT Documents: The lie of MP Julian Smith: "... When MP Smith stated that I "confirmed" to MP Kirkhope that the Guardian gave me files that I didn't originally have, he lied. The opposite is true: I expressly rejected the right of government functionaries to invade the journalistic process by demanding answers to those questions, and thus explicitly refused to address any of the speculation from Kirkhope which Smith falsely claimed I "confirmed". I realize that expectations for the veracity and ethics of Tory MPs is exceedingly low, but this sort of lying - which he refused to acknowledge or apologize for once it was brought to his attention - descends well beneath even that low bar. An eagerness to see the Guardian criminally prosecuted for its journalism doesn't justify public fabrications of this sort from public officials...." (read more at link above)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Whitest Jobs in America, Union Jobs

A dirty secret of the Democratic Party in the US -- one of its main special interest groups, Unions, use their protected status under Federal law to not only constrain commerce and raise costs for public projects, but are the main residual source of institutional racism in the USA --

The 33 Whitest Jobs in America - Derek Thompson - The Atlantic: "Looking over this list, you might have noticed that many of the occupations are skilled construction jobs, such as electricians and carpenters. That's not a coincidence. Trade unions have had a complicated, and often ugly, history with race that's helped shut blacks and Hispanics out of these highly coveted lines of work. In 2005, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote about the impact on Chicago's South Side: "Chicago is a union town. But in Mitts’ ward–and among many poor blacks–some unions rank only a couple of notches above the Ku Klux Klan. Black leaders in Chicago have repeatedly charged that the building-trades unions, traditionally controlled by whites, are keeping a grip on jobs. While 37% of Chicago is black, only 10% of all new apprentices in the construction trades between 2000 and 2003 were black, according to the Chicago Tribune."" (read more at the link above)

Notice that the current occupant of the White House has done nothing to reform Union racism?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Twitter IPO, Social Media, wrong people end up with the money

Using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn? -- are you getting paid?

Twitter IPO: why the wrong people ended up with the money | Aditya Chakrabortty | Comment is free | The Guardian: " . . .  look at Twitter's business. Or rather, look at its own assessment of its business, as stated in its S-1 stockmarket filing. Early on comes the delicious admission: "Our success depends on our ability to provide users of our products and services with valuable content, which in turn depends on the content contributed by our users." Read that again: Twitter is in the business of selling us to us – our news and views and idle banter. Without those, without us, it is nothing. As with Facebook and Tumblr and all the other social media, we're also part of Twitter's workforce. But I bet you haven't seen any stock options, either." (read more at the link above)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Conjugal visits, Prisons, Reducing Recidivism

America and Britain, the leading incarcerators in the world, do not allow conjugal visits -- however the civilized world does --

Conjugal visits: No laughing matter | The Economist: "Prisons increasingly allow conjugal visits. But not in Britain and America . . . . evidence does suggest that conjugal visits not only reduce prison violence but also reduce recidivism by preserving family ties. In Canada inmates are allowed every two months to spend up to 72 hours in a flat with their spouses, partners, children, parents or in-laws. “We get to cook together, play cards and bingo, and be a family...The children get to know their father,” remarks a female relative of an offender in Ontario. The visits, says an inmate, “let us know that someone still cares about us”. Canada’s Correctional Service has advised the Trinidadian government on creating a similar programme. Perhaps America and Britain, the leading incarcerators in the world and western Europe respectively, will one day be open to similar counsel." (read more at link above)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Over 3,000 US prisoners serving life without parole for non-violent crimes, Rule of Law?

Or the Law is an Ass?

Over 3,000 US prisoners serving life without parole for non-violent crimes | World news | "At about 12.40pm on 2 January 1996, Timothy Jackson took a jacket from the Maison Blanche department store in New Orleans, draped it over his arm, and walked out of the store without paying for it. When he was accosted by a security guard, Jackson said: “I just needed another jacket, man.” A few months later Jackson was convicted of shoplifting and sent to Angola prison in Louisiana. That was 16 years ago. Today he is still incarcerated in Angola, and will stay there for the rest of his natural life having been condemned to die in jail. All for the theft of a jacket, worth $159. Jackson, 53, is one of 3,281 prisoners in America serving life sentences with no chance of parole for non-violent crimes. . . ." (read more at the link above)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Encrypting the Web

EFF graphic on web encryption
EFF graphic on web encryption

UPDATE: Encrypt the Web Report: Who's Doing What | Electronic Frontier Foundation: EFF: "We’ve asked the companies in our Who Has Your Back Program what they are doing to bolster encryption in light of the NSA’s unlawful surveillance of your communications. We’re pleased to see that four companies—Dropbox, Google, SpiderOak and—are implementing five out of five of our best practices for encryption. In addition, we appreciate that Yahoo! just announced several measures it plans to take to increase encryption, including the very critical encryption of data center links, and that Twitter has confirmed that it has encryption of data center links in progress. See the infographic (above)....." (read more at link above)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Meaningless Data, Police Crime Statistics

There's an old saying in data collection and statistical analysis: garbage in, garbage out --

Police crime figures are meaningless. Ban them | Simon Jenkins | Comment is free | The Guardian: "MPs have no excuse for being shocked. Police statistics have been a conspiracy against truth for decades and they know it. Already in the early 1990s the Home Office warned that "police statistics are an unreliable guide to the extent of crime". The documentary maker, Roger Graef, recorded in his book Talking Blues that police were shifting crimes between categories." (read more at link above)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

British Press Freedom Under Threat

A chilling inquisition aimed at The Guardian over publishing leaks highlights how, unlike the United States, Britain has no constitutional guarantee of a free press.

British Press Freedom Under Threat - "Britain has a long tradition of a free, inquisitive press. That freedom, so essential to democratic accountability, is being challenged by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government of Prime Minister David Cameron...." (read more at link above)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Glass Houses, Obama Administration Leakers

Hullabaloo: "Rockefeller charged in his letter that the most “damaging revelations of intelligence sources and methods are generated primarily by Executive Branch officials pushing a particular policy, and not by the rank-and-file employees of intelligence agencies.”"(read more at the link above)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Bodies on the Border (video)

Bodies on the Border - Video - Bodies on the Border by Marc Silver (August 17th, 2013)

Forensics experts in Arizona struggle to identify the bodies of migrants who perished while attempting to cross illicitly from Mexico into the United States.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Surviving, the post-employment economy

Surviving the post-employment economy - Opinion - Al Jazeera English: "We live in the tunnel at the end of the light. If you are 35 or younger - and quite often, older - the advice of the old economy does not apply to you. You live in the post-employment economy, where corporations have decided not to pay people. Profits are still high. The money is still there. But not for you. You will work without a raise, benefits, or job security. Survival is now a laudable aspiration."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sandy Island found not to exist in Pacific Ocean (video)

 Pacific's Sandy Island found not to exist – video | Science | "Geologists from the University of Sydney have discovered that a 26km-wide land mass called Sandy Island that can be seen on charts and maps – including Google Maps - does not in fact exist. An island was thought to exist between Australia and the French territory of New Caledonia, but there is no satellite image of it. Geologist Sabin Zahirovic says it is possible that human error during the process of digitising maps created Sandy Island"

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Ownership Doesn't Make Sense Anymore

In the future, we won’t own things because it won’t make sense to. Why should ideas be any different? (source infra)

World without copyright? Prepare for mind blowing « WordsByNowak:" . . . The success of online cloud media services such as Netflix and Spotify suggest that a growing number of people are not interested in owning movies and music, so long as they have access to them whenever and wherever they want. This makes sense for a lot of reasons: CDs and DVDs take up a lot of space, gather dust and cost a lot (relatively speaking). Why buy them and maintain them if we use them once in a blue moon? I recently wrote a story about how this non-ownership rental model is also gaining currency with the devices we watch that content on. With gadgets evolving and improving so quickly, we don’t want to keep them for very long, which means we could be moving to a “cloud rental” model on actual hardware too. Add in the likelihood that we won’t own the fast-developing robot cars when they arrive and a clearer picture starts to emerge. . ."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Carville says Obama has 'deep' problems (video)

Carville: Obama has 'deep' problems | TheHill: "“I think we can stop putting the nails in the coffin here. We can admit that there’s some real, deep, fundamental problems with this president. But I think we’re throwing the dirt here too soon,” Carville said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”"

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Rahm Emanuel says 'Heads are spinning' over ObamaCare website (video)

Rahm Emanuel: 'Heads are spinning' over ObamaCare website | TheHill“I have all the confidence and I — and all the assurance that heads are rolling and they're spinning right now to fix the problem," Emanuel told CNN.

 Heads are spinning? Heads are rolling?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Body found hanging, after 8 years

News of the weird from France --

Man's body found hanging after eight years in flat near Paris - FRANCE 24: " . . . . The man, aged around 40 when he died, had not been heard from since 2005 when he filed a labour complaint against his firing. He had cut ties with his family years before and neighbours believed he had returned to Cambodia. His apartment was eventually sold after he failed to make mortgage payments and to cover building charges. A police source said the new owner discovered the body when he arrived to inspect the apartment and entered with the aid of a locksmith. "The body was in perfect condition, as was the apartment," the source said. Investigators were unable to explain why the body had not decomposed. . . ."

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian, Official Secrets Act

Glenn Greenwald and the Future of Leaks: "He says a big reason he left The Guardian, the paper that made him world-famous, is the Official Secrets Act, a 19th-century British law that grants the government powerful tools to protect secrets. The law had a “public interest” defense for leakers until 1989, when Parliament struck it from the statute." (read more at link above)

Obviously, the Official Secrets Act should be amended or repealed.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

US drone strikes, war crimes

US drone strikes could be classed as war crimes, says Amnesty International | World news | The Guardian: "US officials responsible for the secret CIA drone campaign against suspected terrorists in Pakistan may have committed war crimes and should stand trial, a report by a leading human rights group warns. Amnesty International has highlighted the case of a grandmother who was killed while she was picking vegetables and other incidents which could have broken international laws designed to protect civilians. The report is issued in conjunction with an investigation by Human Rights Watch detailing missile attacks in Yemen which the group believes could contravene the laws of armed conflict, international human rights law and Barack Obama's own guidelines on drones. The reports are being published while Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan's prime minister, is in Washington. Sharif has promised to tell Obama that the drone strikes – which have caused outrage in Pakistan – must end. . . ."

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dollars Without Privilege

Imagining the Dollar Without Its Privilege -  On Tuesday, Britain became the first country to sign an agreement with China allowing investors in London to get a license that will allow them to invest directly in shares and bonds in renminbi. It’s a long way from there to the kind of open capital market China would need for its currency to become a reserve asset. . . . (read more at link above)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Communist Cuba, Business, Taxes

In Communist Cuba, the Tax Man Cometh - Business News - CNBC: ". . . Under the new tax system they will pay a 35 percent tax on their profits, but can take advantage of a myriad of deductions ranging from amortization and travel to sales taxes, insurance and environmental protection. Many smaller businesses will become cooperatives or be privately leased and taxed based on income. The state-owned Cuban National News Agency said Cuba had studied the tax systems of a number of other countries, including several with capitalist economies . . ."Like the reforms, it is a work in progress, a work that has barely begun and will take time to put in place," said a Western businessman who has worked in Cuba for almost two decades. But, he added, "this is of course a major step forward toward the 21st century and a modern state.". . ." (read more at link above)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Paying Americans the Least, Walmart

The 12 Companies Paying Americans the Least - 24/7 Wall St.: "1. Walmart - 
U.S. workforce: 1,400,000
CEO compensation: $18,131,738
Revenue: $446.95 billion
Net income: $15.70 billion
No. of U.S. stores: 3,868

The labor practices of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) have long received negative attention in the press, but that has not affected investors much. WMT’s share price rose more than 48% in the past five years. In 2008, Walmart agreed to pay $640 million in settlements of dozens of class-action lawsuits that claimed the company deprived workers of pay for time worked." (read more at link above)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Google Now, Efficiency

How Google Now can help you be more efficient | News | TechRadar: "Google Now is Android's take on Apple's Siri, the voice-powered search engine that understands human speech and delivers nearly instantaneous spoken results. But while the voice search is a big part of Google Now, it actually goes one step further and learns your day-to-day movements and web searches so it can deliver results it thinks will be useful to you. While it may sound hideously intrusive, it's actually rather beneficial. Upon waking it looks at traffic and figures out the best route for you to get to work. If you go travelling, it works out where in the world you are and delivers currency and translation options. It's all powered by Google's own search engine, and the best time to start using it is - appropriately enough - now." read more at link above

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Taxation, Theory, Reality

Taxation in Theory and Reality | Econ201 | Big Think: "The debate over the fiscal cliff has spawned a multitude of suggestions for reforming the tax system, including my own.  One possible reason for the wide range of proposals, even from mainstream economists, is that the recommendations of standard economic theory may be very different from what the American economy actually needs today. . . ." (read more at link above)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Google, Ireland, Bermuda, Dutch sandwich

‘Dutch sandwich’ grows as Google shifts €8.8bn to Bermuda - "In principle, multinationals such as Google that pay relatively little tax overseas will face big bills in the US when they bring their earnings back to the US. But Google has not provided for extra US tax because it intends to permanently reinvest $33bn of offshore profits outside the US. The new figures come from the accounts of Google Netherlands Holdings, which represents the “Dutch sandwich” part of the tax structure. It received €8.6bn in royalties from Google Ireland Ltd and €232.8m in royalties from Google’s Singapore operation. All but €10.4m of this was paid out to Google Ireland Holdings, a company that is incorporated in Ireland but controlled in Bermuda."

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Reconciliation, Cuba, Cubans

Reconciliation among Cubans is needed, will be difficult - Cuba - " . . . Dagoberto Valdes, a lay Catholic activist and magazine editor from western Pinar del Rio province, said reconciliation among all Cubans on the island and abroad will require truth, justice, forgiveness, inclusion and an education in civic ethics, among several factors. Asked if he would negotiate with current government officials, Valdes said yes, at the proper time, under the proper legal framework and with all the required pieces on the table.

“Without forgiveness, communism wins,” he added.

The “Second Conference on Reconciliation and Change: The German Experience,” at Miami Dade College was sponsored by MDC; FIU’s Cuban Research Institute; and the Cuba Study Group, a centrist non-government organization headed by businessman Carlos Saladrigas."

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Shard, Ruins, Architectural Sensibility

View photos at link below --

The Shard can eat its heart out – this is Britain's beauty | Simon Jenkins | Comment is free | The Guardian: " . . . . This worm at least appears to be turning. There are thousands of battered old buildings and rundown neighbourhoods that merit the Astley treatment, retaining the spirit of place that comes with the continuous occupation of land. Here is a ruin brought back into constructive use. Its celebration is the result of an architectural sensibility that honours the debt of the past to the future. Let us hope it is widely imitated."

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ignoring Opportunity Cost, Risk

The Risk of Ignoring Opportunity Cost - Forbes: "For complex reasons rooted deep in the way our brains evolved over millennia, we tend to be hard-wired to fear losses more than we enjoy the prospect of gain. (That’s the root of the Nobel-prize winning concept prospect theory.) And, by and large, investors tend to disbelieve bull markets as they run. Which is perverse! And yet, most readers will agree that investors tend to be bullish when they should be bearish, and the reverse. So if stocks rise something on the order of 72% of all calendar years, folks are just going to be naturally bearish more often than not—and they’re going to downplay—likely to their detriment—opportunity cost as a risk."

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Abu Ghraib was no anomaly, Americans love to incarcerate people, torture inmates

Abu Ghraib was no anomaly, Americans love their prisons, and to incarcerate people, and to torture inmates -- that's why the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world (by far) --

L.A. County sheriff's jailer charged with assaulting 2 inmates - "The incident was among dozens of abuse allegations the Sheriff's Department began reexamining last year amid public criticism of jail conditions. Prosecutors charged Jackson, of Corona, with assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury, assault by a public officer and filing a false report in connection with two separate incidents. He is also accused of assaulting Cesar Campana, an inmate at the Compton courthouse lockup, in December 2009. . . .  Peter Eliasberg, legal director of the ACLU of Southern California, said he was pleased that the Sheriff's Department had taken action in response to his organization's complaints, but questioned why more hadn't been done when the incident first occurred. "Why wasn't this arrest made in 2011? The answer is, because very likely the first investigation was cursory, sloppy and a whitewash," he said."

Very likely, they really don't care. It's all part of the Bush-Obama Police State Culture and Mindset.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Overconfident, Narcissistic, Unreliable

The overconfidence problem | ZDNet: Twenge wrote the books 'The Narcissim Epidemic: Living in the age of entitlement' in 2010 and 'Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--and More Miserable Than Ever Before' in 2007 which gives a pretty clear overview of her perspective on this topic. I think Twenge is an important voice in our current febrile digital social life climate . . . An English CIO complained to me recently that most incoming fresh-out-of-college employees had the 'attention span of gnats', wanted to immediately take charge of projects without supervision and were generally very overconfident without the skills to back that up. Getting people to coexist and work together over time isn't easy - ask any middle manager in the trenches with a long list of time sensitive tasks to supervise getting done - and overconfident, noisy people who let you down has to be near the top of the list of frustrations.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Obama, Corporate tax credits, Last fiscal cliff deal

Tim Carney: How corporate tax credits got in the 'cliff' deal | "A Republican Senate aide familiar with the cliff negotiations tells me the White House wanted permanent extensions of a whole slew of corporate tax credits. When Senate Republicans said no, "the White House insisted that the exact language" of the Baucus bill be included in the fiscal cliff deal. "They were absolutely insistent," another aide tells me. (The White House did not return requests for comment.)"

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Youth Prisons, USA, Inhumane

Youth Today: ". . . But he was most affected when photographing in the Intensive Management Unit (IMU). “I explained I really needed to take pictures of the IMU and that I didn’t want to make it pretty. The administrator said ‘Yes,’ which really blew me away,” Davis recalls. “It was the most inhumane living environment I ever witnessed.” The IMU was usually locked down and “usually off limits,” Davis says. The IMU staff was just excited that someone else was visiting. The sharp-end of Davis’ visual memory is the hatches in the cell doors. “It is where [the kids would] get their food, mail and medical needs. That’s when the IMU really started to affect me emotionally. When I was working with them face-to-face in these institutions it wasn’t any different to working with kids anywhere,” Davis says.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Obama, The Fed, Hidden-tax heists

RAHN: Obama's hidden-tax heist - Washington Times: " .  . . What is new is the big tax on savings, again imposed by the Fed. By artificially holding down interest rates to lower-than-expected real market rates, the Fed is, in effect, expropriating interest income (an implicit tax) that savers normally would be expected to enjoy. This interest manipulation enables the government to fund its debt at less than what would be real market rates at the expense of savers, making the deficit appear much smaller than it really is. There also has been huge growth in the unseen “regulatory tax” over the past four years. A regulatory tax is the cost of regulation imposed on the productive sectors of the economy when the costs of the regulation exceed the benefits. The Obama administration continues to ignore legislative mandates, both on comment periods and cost-benefit analysis, for the tidal wave of new regulation that is hitting businesses — and individuals. . .  ."

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

India, Corruption, Land Records, Technology Fix

Indian program to computerize land records shows technology’s limits - The Washington Post: " . . . land ownership has long been controlled by corrupt bureaucrats beholden to powerful land mafias that dispossessed the downtrodden and spawned millions of disputes. In Karnataka, 10,000 village accountants presided over piles of stapled, crossed-out, erased and rewritten documents that had been revised so often it was nearly impossible to trace back how land was transferred — or stolen. Wealthy families routinely took land documents as collateral for usurious loans to the poor, Puttappa said. Upon default, they took the land, often illegally. Even if the loan was repaid, many would trick illiterate debtors into putting their thumbprints on sale documents they couldn’t read, she said. “You couldn’t even fight in the courts, because you didn’t have the records,” Puttappa said."

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Money, Meaning, Choosing

You're going to need to apply not just the following professional skills — entrepreneurship; "networking," pluck and drive, strategic thinking, leadership, branding and marketing — but also the following human capacities: a stubborn refusal to obey the dictates of the status quo, an unwavering empathy, a healthy disrespect for the naysayers, the humility of the servant and the pride of the master artisan, a persevering sense of grace, a heaping spoonful of that most dangerously unpredictable of substances, love, and, finally, the unflinching belief in a better tomorrow that those have always had who dust their saddles off, dig their spurs in, and forge ahead into the great unknown. (source infra)
Making the Choice Between Money and Meaning - Umair Haque - Harvard Business Review: " . . . There's only one good answer, and it's simple. Stop trading meaning for money. It's the worst trade you'll ever make. But the truth is, you and I are encouraged to make the worst trade in the world from the second we're socialized — from school "counselors" who exhort us to settle for the safe . . ." (read more at  link above)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Risks of Conforming

31 Things I’d Have Told Myself Before College — Architecting A Life — Medium: "But nobody ever talks about the risks of conforming: boredom (the worst of tortures), an uninteresting narrative (you’ll never land your dream job), regret (we don’t regret the things we do; we regret the things we don’t do), a long and frustrated journey through the rest of your life (stemming from a lack of self-awareness). The “road less traveled” is often also the path of least resistance because it’s not a rat race."

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Government Auditors, Early Tale of the Internet

An Early Tale of the Internet - ". . . SRI International, where I was the director of the AI Center, was periodically visited by U.S. government auditors. One day I got a call from an internal contracts administrator telling me to expect such a visit– in other words, I was supposed to be on my best behavior. The government auditor soon appeared in my office, armed with a no-nonsense demeanor and a bulging briefcase. He pulled up a chair, pulled a file from his briefcase, and without preamble said in an authoritarian tone of voice, “Dr. Hart, it says here that you’ve received 2,493,786,916 packets of bits. Is that correct?” I certainly hadn’t expected that question, but I was on my best behavior, so I politely replied, “Well, I’m not sure of the exact number, but that sounds about right.” He made a check mark on his file. He then asked, “Were adequate procedures set up to inspect the condition of these incoming packets?” I was starting to get an inkling of where this was going. I thought there must be some error-detecting codes somewhere in the communication path, so I simply answered “Yes”. A second check mark.. . . . At this point I was struggling to keep a straight face, but I truthfully answered, “No sir, there was no tarnish or corrosion on any of the packets we received.” One more check mark. . . . He made a final check mark, stuffed the file back into his briefcase, thanked me and left. You can’t make this stuff up." (more at link above)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Prisons, Children, America

Prison Photography: A Memory Divided | "This month, Youth Today features an essay by Prison Photography writer and editor Pete Brook. Brook highlights three photographers and their work, each focused on incarcerated young people from different detention centers across the country. Youth Today, a publication dedicated to providing juvenile justice stories as well as stories on other youth related issues, features the entire photo spread in its January print edition. . . .  an excerpt of the piece  . . . :
Hundreds of thousands of people see inside the places and spaces where we lock up young members of our society. On any given day, more than 60,000 children in the United States are behind bars. . . ."

Americans love their prisons -- the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world (by far)!

Land of the free?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Space Travel, Incarceration, Deprivation

Wonder why incarceration isn't the answer? (in spite of the US having the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world) -- read on --

Star Trek Was a Lie: Space Travel Actually Sucks, Say Scientists | Manolith: " . . . the six would-be cosmonauts who spent a full 17 months cooped up in Mars500, a low-tech simulation built on an industrial parking lot in Moscow. The experience, to paraphrase a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, totally sucked. The participants — among the best and brightest around — spent 520 days in isolation, without even a glimmer of natural light. Their phone contact with the outside world had a 20 minutes delay, just as it would between Earth and Mars. Despite playing Guitar Hero and watching DVDs to cope with the soul-crushing boredom, the six men experienced wonky sleep patterns, lethargy, diminished mental capacities and general feeling of utter crapulence. One member of the mission suffered chronic sleep deprivation, and “was falling apart in terms of his attention system,” said University of Pennsylvania researcher Mathias Basner. . . ."

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Multiple citizenship is inevitable, a second or third passport

Citizenship: In praise of a second (or third) passport | The Economist: "Seen from the state's point of view, multiple citizenship is at best untidy and at worst a menace. Officials would prefer you to be born, live, work, pay taxes, draw benefits and die in the same place, travel on one passport only, and bequeath only one nationality to your offspring. In wartime the state has a unique call on your loyalty—and perhaps your life. Citizenship is the glue keeping individual and state together. Tamper with it, and the relationship comes unstuck. But life is more complicated than that. Loyalty to political entities need not be exclusive: indeed, it often overlaps. Many Jews hold Israeli passports in solidarity with the Jewish state (and as an insurance policy), alongside citizenship of their native country. Teutons may be proud to be simultaneously Bavarian, German and European. Irish citizens can vote in British elections. The old notion of one-man, one-state citizenship looks outdated: more than 200m people now live and work outside the countries in which they were born—but still wish to travel home, or marry or invest there. . . . Multiple citizenship is inevitable and, at heart, rather liberal. Celebrate it." (read more at link above)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Reputation, Rattner, Reality

A Reputation, Once Sullied, Acquires a New Shine - " . . . accused of using “pay to play” practices while raising money from a New York state pension fund when he was still at Quadrangle. In 2010 he paid more than $16 million to Andrew M. Cuomo, who was then New York’s attorney general, and the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle the civil cases without admitting or denying wrongdoing. He was “banned from appearing in any capacity before any public pension fund within the State of New York for five years” and for “associating with any investment adviser or broker dealer” for two years, according to the suits. As the case proceeded, he stepped down from his position in the Obama administration. Among the cocktail party circuit in Manhattan, Mr. Rattner was Topic A. And the schadenfreude was thick. Mr. Rattner, the narrative developed, had become Wall Street’s Icarus, flying too close to the sun. The New Republic headlined one article: “Rattner Hoisted on His Own Petard.” The question was asked: Would he ever eat lunch in this town again? And what about Washington? Now, two years later, Mr. Rattner is lunching all over town. And, in truth, he may have never stopped. . . . "

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Geek goes Washington

Schumpeter: Mr Geek goes to Washington | The Economist: "Politics 2.0 - promises to be a force for creative disruption. It is “bringing to politics the hacker mentality of tech entrepreneurs—move fast, try to find new and innovative solutions to old problems,” says Joe Green, who is running the campaign. . . ."

Sunday, September 8, 2013

London, UK, who needs the EU?

Sailing away from the EU could be a boon for City, says Icap chief Spencer - Analysis & Features - Business - London Evening Standard: "Icap, with annual revenues of some £1.5 billion, has offices in 32 countries employing just under 5000 people. Spencer believes that London is still a magnet for many of the top people in finance. “London remains a major attraction when it comes to recruiting people,” he said. “I hope that the Conservatives win the next election outright, and that will help to make it even more attractive. Free of the constraints of the Coalition, they could pursue more Conservative policies including tackling personal taxes, which remain too high.” Spencer does not think an exit from Europe would particularly damage the City’s ability to do business. “We would still be the world’s sixth-largest economy. Countries such as South Korea and Canada do perfectly without huge trading blocs,” he said. “Similarly, many of the world’s  biggest financial centres — such as Switzerland, Singapore and Hong Kong — do not have huge domestic economies behind them.”"

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Miguel Nicolelis, Brain Not Computable, Kurzweil Singularity

Miguel Nicolelis Says the Brain is Not Computable, Bashes Kurzweil’s Singularity | MIT Technology Review:  " . . . "The debate over whether the brain is a kind of computer has been running for decades. Many scientists think it’s possible, in theory, for a computer to equal the brain given sufficient computer power and an understanding of how the brain works. Kurzweil delves into the idea of “reverse-engineering” the brain in his latest book, How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed, in which he says even though the brain may be immensely complex, “the fact that it contains many billions of cells and trillions of connections does not necessarily make its primary method complex.” But Nicolelis is in a camp that thinks that human consciousness (and if you believe in it, the soul) simply can’t be replicated in silicon. That’s because its most important features are the result of unpredictable, non-linear interactions amongst billions of cells, Nicolelis says. “You can’t predict whether the stock market will go up or down because you can’t compute it,” he says. “You could have all the computer chips ever in the world and you won’t create a consciousness.” . . . "

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Aaron Swartz, Department of Justice, Shame

Lessig Blog, v2: ". . . . For remember, we live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis regularly dine at the White House — and where even those brought to “justice” never even have to admit any wrongdoing, let alone be labeled “felons.” In that world, the question this government needs to answer is why it was so necessary that Aaron Swartz be labeled a “felon.” For in the 18 months of negotiations, that was what he was not willing to accept, and so that was the reason he was facing a million dollar trial in April — his wealth bled dry, yet unable to appeal openly to us for the financial help he needed to fund his defense, at least without risking the ire of a district court judge. And so as wrong and misguided and fucking sad as this is, I get how the prospect of this fight, defenseless, made it make sense to this brilliant but troubled boy to end it. Fifty years in jail, charges our government. Somehow, we need to get beyond the “I’m right so I’m right to nuke you” ethics that dominates our time. That begins with one word: Shame. . . . "

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Infrastructure, a holistic approach

Infrastructure | Infrastructure | McKinsey & Company: " . . . We think that one of the innovations in infrastructure is really taking a systems approach. And that means not thinking about a specific project, not thinking about a specific situation like “water only” or “transport only” or “energy only,” but really looking systemically around what kinds of infrastructure need to support healthy, active, accessible communities or nations. And with that innovative way of thinking, you actually do approach infrastructure differently. You think about both “hard” and “soft” infrastructure holistically. Sometimes it’s better to plant mangroves and think about coastal restoration than it is to build a seawall. Or at least when you’re building hard infrastructure, to think about the soft infrastructure solutions. Sometimes it’s better, now that we have those materials, to build your streets and sidewalks with material that’s porous. The kind of porous material now is an innovation, because it allows the material to absorb water more quickly and release it more slowly. . . ." (read more at link above)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Herman Melville, Moby Dick, tragedy of ambition

Herman Melville's "Moby Dick": 10 most memorable lines - The tragedy of ambition - "The tragedy of ambition:

"For all men tragically great are made so through a certain morbidness.... all mortal greatness is but disease."

– Ishmael on deranged leadership" (Herman Melville, Moby Dick)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dolphins can swim and think for days without rest or sleep

If only we were as "advanced" as Dolphins --

Dolphins able to sleep with half their brains, stay awake for two weeks straight - "The scientists found these dolphins could successfully use echolocation with near-perfect accuracy and no sign of deteriorating performance for up to 15 days. The researchers did not test how much longer the dolphins could have continued. "Dolphins can continue to swim and think for days without rest or sleep, possibly indefinitely," Branstetter told LiveScience. These findings suggest that dolphins evolved to sleep with only half their brains not only to keep from drowning, but also to remain vigilant. "These majestic beasts are true unwavering sentinels of the sea," Branstetter said. Future research can help verify whether the dolphins stayed awake and alert for multiple days by sleeping with half their brains. This would require monitoring their brains for electrical activity via electroencephalogram, or a EEG."

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Yahoo, CEO Mayer, VPN logs, working from home

Caveat Cooperatorem! (Warning Worker!) --

Yahoo CEO Mayer checked VPN logs before banning home working - Network World: "Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer came up with her controversial and hugely unfashionable policy of outlawing home working after doing something almost unheard of for a US CEO - she checked the VPN logs to see whether anyone was slacking. According to the reporter who broke the news of the ban, Mayer told told a staff meeting last week that the logs told her that some employees weren't using the VPN often enough.  The reasoning was simple and non-technical; if employees weren't using the VPN they couldn't be working or contributing to Yahoo as a company."

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Simple Ideas, Scientific Discoveries (video)

How simple ideas lead to scientific discoveries - Adam Savage - YouTube: "Adam Savage walks through two spectacular examples of profound scientific discoveries that came from simple, creative methods anyone could have followed -- Eratosthenes' calculation of the Earth's circumference around 200 BC and Hippolyte Fizeau's measurement of the speed of light in 1849. Lesson by Adam Savage, animation by TED-Ed."

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Obama, Global Warming, Delusions

As The Economy Recesses, Obama's Global Warming Delusions Are Truly Cruel - Forbes: " . . . Top Swedish climate scientist Dr. Lennart Bengtsson, who has served on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the official global warming advocacy body, was also quoted publicly on February 3 as saying,“We are creating great anxiety without it being justified…there are no indications that the warming is so severe that we need to panic. The warming we have had the last a 100 years is so small that if we didn’t have meteorologists and climatologists to measure it we wouldn’t have noticed it at all. The Earth appears to have cooling properties that exceed the previously thought ones, and computer models are inadequate to try to foretell a chaotic object like the climate, where actual observations are the only way to go.” The award winning Bengtsson, highly decorated by scientific bodies across the globe, also pointed out that the heating effect of carbon dioxide (CO2) is logarithmic, which means the higher the concentration is, the smaller the effect of a further increase. . . . the sea level has been rising as the Earth has been recovering from the freezing period of the Little Ice Age. It is not due to man-caused global warming. President Obama also told us in the SOTU, “Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense.” But that is a fairy tale. On the website of Obama’s own EPA is a chart of a U.S. Annual Heat Wave Index, 1895 to 2008, which supports this statement, indicating that heat waves were much worse in the 1930s: “Heat waves occurred with high frequency in the 1930s, and these remain the most severe heat waves in the U.S. historical record (see Figure 1). Many years of intense drought (the “Dust Bowl”) contributed to these heat waves by depleting soil moisture and reducing the moderating effects of evaporation.” The EPA also acknowledges that there is no trend in the historical record of heat waves becoming worse. . . . (read more at link above)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The New Royal Succession (video)

The New Royal Succession: "Gender will no longer be an issue for the baby of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge under a new succession rule for the British monarchy."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Anomaly: incredibly efficient New York City passport office

Renewing your passport? Visit the incredibly efficient New York City passport office on Hudson Street. - Slate Magazine: "The success story of New York’s passport office tracks with a study recently released by a pair of economists at University College London, Imran Rasul and Daniel Rogger, who looked at the effectiveness of Nigerian government departments. They found that autonomy—in this case, whether project managers have the discretion and resources to do their jobs without approval from higher-ups—is a critical predictor of whether projects get done and whether they’re done well. For Hoffman to design a passport office that works for New York—and to manage the process well—he can’t be overruled by a one-size-fits-all approach that’s dictated from Washington or New Hampshire."

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Daily Life in Damascus (video)

Daily Life in Damascus: "New York Times Beirut correspondent Anne Barnard visits the city as its residents go about their lives in the shadow of Syria’s civil war, which is in its third year."

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Delusions of grandeur, government power, suffocating regulations

A Devil's Bargain In The Desert: Hoover Dam And The Coming Of The Leviathan State - Forbes: " . . . the proliferation of regulations since the 1930s has made the great endeavors of Keynesian worship all but impossible.  The Empire State Building went up in eighteen months and ended a competition for the title of “world’s tallest building.”  By contrast, cutting through red tape and building anew at Ground Zero took a decade. In rare cases, an economic activity has unavoidable federal implications.  Most other times, central planners are just indulging delusions of grandeur meant to expand government power.  Such Keynesian dreams of activist government and the realities of a suffocating regulatory state are one and the same, the stuff of nightmares."

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Power-Hungry Elite

The Power-Hungry Elite Aren't Who You Think They Are | Think Tank | Big Think: . . . "Money is the McMansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart in 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who does not see the difference.". . . .
Suppose you have a guy who’s made 35 million bucks with a chain of used car lots. Occupy Wall Street was not against that guy and his 35 million bucks. They were talking about an elite that runs the country that seems to have a lot of power over other people’s lives and are not sufficiently accountable. That doesn’t include just rich people, it’s a particular kind of person.
In other words, as Murray sees it, the elite are not necessarily the wealthy but the people who run the country. These people live in almost a different world from the rest of us. Murray defines this narrow elite as the 100,000 or so people who have an outsized influence on the nation’s culture, economics and politics. They’re the CEOs of the most important industries, such as Hollywood and Wall Street. They are bureaucrats in Washington.. . ." read more at link above

Thursday, July 25, 2013

How Laura Poitras learned of Edward Snowden

How Laura Poitras learned of Edward Snowden--translated from Portuguese - Google Translate: Renowned for movies on abuses of American power, the documentarian Laura Poitras, who filmed the whistleblower, tells how she was approached by Snowden and came to video him in Hong Kong . . . . Leia mais sobre esse assunto em

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Low-Tech Mosquito Deterrent

Simulated wind, provided by an electric fan, is good at both discouraging insect flight and dissipating the mosquito-attracting emanations that humans emit--

A Low-Tech Mosquito Deterrent - " a small electric fan, perhaps 12 inches high, that swept back and forth, sending a gentle breeze across the grassy area where people were sitting." --read more at link above

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sergey Brin Explains Google Glasses

Sergey Brin Explains Google Glasses - "Why did Google create Google Glass, its glasses with a heads-up display? To hear Sergey Brin, Google co-founder, explain it, it was to prevent social isolation. He got on stage . . . at the $7,500-a-seat TED conference in Long Beach, Calif., and looked down, pretending to use his smartphone. “That is why we created this form factor,” he said. He said rubbing the screens of buttonless and knobless phones was strange. “I feel like it’s kind of emasculating,” he said. “You are just rubbing this featureless piece of glass. There isn’t anything to feel.” “You want something that frees your eyes,” he said. Also, he said, “We wanted to free up your ears.” The sound goes straight to your cranium."


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tumblr CEO David Karp keeps it simple

Weekend Confidential: Tumblr CEO David Karp - "Excursions to the French Riviera aside, Mr. Karp says that his personal life hasn't changed much since the acquisition, and he plans to keep it that way. He'll continue to live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with his girlfriend of the past four years, a nursing-school student. He has no plans to move closer to the mother ship in Silicon Valley. "I don't know how you could live in Palo Alto," he says. "It's just boring." Mr. Karp won't be taking any wild vacations, and says that he prefers spending weekends at home or at the movies with his parents. His only new toy is a Honda motorcycle that he enjoys fixing and rebuilding. He does plan to take on philanthropy at some point. "There are some ramifications," he says earnestly. "I have to think of something responsible to do."" read more at link above

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pew: For Every 10 Americans, Only 3 Trust The Government

Pew: For Every 10 Americans, Only 3 Trust The Government « CBS DC: "The Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. has found that fewer Americans than ever trust the decisions made by the government. Data collected from a survey taken in January of this year indicates that all demographics and partisan groups experienced an increasing lack of faith in government leadership, according to a release posted on the Pew Research website late last week. “However, there are disparities,” the official summary noted. “[M]ore than twice as many Hispanics as whites (44 percent vs. 20 percent) trust the federal government, and more blacks (38 percent) than whites trust the government.”. . . Trust during President George W. Bush’s time in office was not much higher – and fell far more significantly during his eight years as Commander-in-Chief. . . . According to Pew, almost 60 percent of people in the United States had confidence in the federal government before President Bill Clinton left office. When Bush left, national trust was down to about 25 percent of the nation’s people." (read more at link above)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Profanity In The Workplace

#@#$! Is There Any Place For Profanity In The Workplace? - Forbes: "It is worth noting here that studies show swearing can actually be a source of pain relief. When mixed with a bit of humor, a bad word now and then can actually jolt our brains into more expansive, tolerant and creative thinking spaces that make us better problem solvers. (On the other hand, one of my favorite religious leaders and speakers, Spencer W. Kimball, noted in one of his writings, “Profanity is the attempt of a feeble mind to express itself.” I tend to agree. Do we not possess the intellect to find a more original way to communicate? Really?) Swearing clearly didn’t help Carol Bartz of Yahoo who famously reigned with a highly profane hand. Also bear in mind that according to a recent CareerBuilder  survey 64% of Americans think less of employees who swear, and 57% say they are less likely to promote someone who curses."

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ron Paul: "Police manhunt for Boston Marathon bombing suspect scarier than attack"

Ron Paul: Police manhunt for Boston Marathon bombing suspect scarier than attack - Washington Times: "Former Rep. Ron Paul said the law enforcement that swarmed around Boston in the days following the marathon bombings was scarier than the actual terrorist attack. “The Boston bombing provided the opportunity for the government to turn what should have been a police investigation into a military-style occupation of an American city,” he said on the Lew Rockwell website, Politico reported. “This unprecedented move should frighten us as much or more than the attack itself.”. . . ."

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Obama has a sweet retirement package but will you?

Public pensions are the last pensions standing--for how much longer?

Obama has a sweet retirement package. Will you? - The Term Sheet: Fortune's deals blogTerm Sheet: " . . . I can't get past Obama wanting to limit savers to only about half the value of what he stands to get from his post-presidential package. Based on numbers from Vanguard Annuity Access, I value his package at more than $6.6 million.. . . . That's right, $6.6 million. And that doesn't include the IRAs in which Obama has been socking away the $50,000-a-year maximum, or the $18,000 (plus cost of living) a year he will get at age 62 for his service in the Illinois senate, or any other benefits he or his wife may realize from past or future jobs."

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