best when viewed in low light


All in it together

[first image result for search term: global financial crisis]

first response


Guess you're not that into me

I fucking HATE it when you don't text back. It's taking a major psychological toll.

[Because now I have more media through which you can ignore me.]


Innovative spaces:

A sacred space for idea-generation/collaboration. Here.

Fuck yeah. Sexual experimentation online. Surprised?

We don't need another hero, and other tales of the coming feminine domination.

Intellectual jack-off pseudo history is the opiate of the asses. See above.

High school is a role-playing game. Nice dude.


Fair and Balanced; Opinion over Fact

June 19, 2009
A Different Iranian Revolution

This article was written by a student in Iran who, for reasons of safety, did not want to be identified by his full name.


WE look over this wall of marching people to see what our friends in the United States are saying about us. We cannot help it — 30 years of struggle against the Enemy has had the curious effect of making us intrigued. To our great dismay, what we find is that in important sectors of the American press a disturbing counternarrative is emerging: That perhaps this election wasn’t a fraud after all. That the United States shouldn’t rush in with complaints of democracy denied, and that perhaps Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the president the Iranian people truly want (and, by extension, deserve).

Do not believe it. Those so-called experts warning Americans to be leery of claims of fraud by the opposition are basing their arguments on an outdated understanding of Iran that has little to do with the reality of what we here are experiencing during these singular days.

For instance, some American analysts assert that the demonstrations are taking place only in the sections of Tehran — in the north, around the university and Azadi Square — where the educated and well-off reside. Of course, those neighborhoods were home to the well-to-do ... 30 years ago. The notion that these areas represent “the nice part of town” will come as a surprise to their residents, who endure the noise, congestion and pollution of living in the center of a megalopolis.

People who haven’t visited a city in decades are bound to give out bad directions. But their descriptions of where the protests are taking place, and why, also draw on pernicious myths of an iron correlation between religion and class, between location and voting tendency, in Iran.

This false geography imagines South Tehran and the countryside as home only to the poor, those natural allies of political Islam, while North Tehran embodies unbridled gharbzadegi (translated as “Weststruckness” or “Westernitis”) and is populated by people addicted to the Internet and vacations in Paris. It is as if political Islam withers north of Vanak Square and the only residents to be found are “liberals” who voted for the opposition leader, Mir Hussein Moussavi.

We must not assume that the engagement of members of society with their religion is uniform or that religious devotion equals automatic loyalty to a particular brand of politics. To do so is certainly to deny Iran’s poor the capacity to think for themselves, to deny that the politics of the past four years may have made their lives worse — and plays right into Mr. Ahmadinejad’s dubious claim to be the most authentic representative of the 1979 revolution. Mr. Moussavi was, let’s not forget, a favored son of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and a member of Iran’s original cohort of revolutionaries, and he remains a firm believer in the revolution and the framework of the Islamic Republic.

But the United States seems able to view our country only through anxieties left over from the 1979 revolution. In the “how did we lose Iran?” assessments after the overthrow of the shah, many American intelligence agents and policy makers decided that their great mistake was to spend too much time canoodling with the royal family and intellectual elites of the capital. Commentators now are worried that, by siding with the opposition today, the United States will once again fall into the trap of backing the losing side.

But the fact is, Tehran is not the Iranian anomaly it was 30 years ago. It has become more like the rest of the country. Internal migration, not just to Tehran but to other major cities, has accelerated, driven in part by the growth of universities in places like Isfahan, Tabriz, Mashad and Shiraz, and now nearly 70 percent of Iranians live in cities. The much vaunted rural vote represents not a decisive bloc for Mr. Ahmadinejad but a minimum, one that was easily swamped by the increased turnout of city dwellers, who normally sit elections out.

And, of course, Iran in 2009 — better yet, Iran on June 12, 2009 — is not the same as Iran in 1979. Just as Tehran’s neighborhoods cannot be fixed in time, the cultural lives of Iranians have greatly changed in the past 30 years. The postrevolutionary period has seen the expansion of education, the entry of women into the work force in large numbers, and changing patterns of marriage and even of divorce. These have all shaped Iranian society. The pseudo-sociology peddled by so many in the West would easily dissolve with a week’s visit.

Let’s also forget the polls, carried out in May by Terror Free Tomorrow: The Center for Public Opinion, that have been making the rounds this past week, with numbers that showed Mr. Ahmadinejad well ahead in the election, even in Mr. Moussavi’s hometown, Tabriz. Maybe last month Mr. Ahmadinejad was indeed on his way to victory. But then came the debates.

Starting on June 1, the country was treated to an experience without precedent in the 30 years of the Islamic Republic of Iran: six back-to-back live and unscripted debates among the four presidential candidates. Iranians everywhere were riveted, and the poll numbers began to move.

By the Wednesday before the election, Mr. Moussavi was backed by about 44 percent of respondents, while Mr. Ahmadinejad was favored by around 38 percent. So let’s not cloud the results with numbers that were, like bagels, stale a week later. (And let’s ignore the claim that polling by Iranians in Iran is “notoriously untrustworthy.” A consortium of pollsters and social scientists working for a diverse range of political and social organizations systematically measured public opinion for months before the election.)

Such a major shift has happened before. A month before the 1997 elections, the establishment candidate, Ali Akbar Nategh-Nouri, was trouncing his opponents in surveys. Then, a week before the vote, the tide changed, bringing to power a reformer, Mohammad Khatami.

The reason for this fluidity in voter preference is simple. Iran has no real political parties that can command a fixed number of predictable votes. With elections driven primarily by personality politics, Iranians are always swing voters. So Mr. Moussavi, hampered by a lack of access to state-run news media and allowed only two months to campaign, began to make inroads into Mr. Ahmadinejad’s lead only during the final days leading into the election, his poll numbers rising with his visits to provincial cities and the debate appearances.

One final note: the election does reveal a paradox. There is strong evidence that Iranians across the board want a better relationship with the United States. But if Mr. Moussavi were to become president and carry out his campaign promise of seeking improved relations with America, we would probably see a good 30 percent of the Iranian population protesting that he is “selling out” to the enemy.

By contrast, support for Mr. Ahmadinejad’s campaign was rooted in part in his supposed defense of the homeland and national honor in the face of United States aggression. Americans too-long familiar with the boorish antics of the Iranian president will no doubt be surprised to learn that the best chance for improved relations with the United States perhaps lies with Mr. Ahmadinejad. But Mr. Ahmadinejad is perceived here as being uniquely able to play the part of an Iranian Nixon by “traveling to the United States” and bringing along with him his supporters — and they are not few.

In other words, Iranians believe they face a daunting choice: a disastrous domestic political situation with Mr. Ahmadinejad but an improved foreign policy, or improved domestic leadership under Mr. Moussavi but near impossible challenges in making relations with the United States better.

The truth is, it wasn’t supposed to happen this way. The open-air parties that, for one week, turned Tehran at night into a large-scale civic disco, were an accident. People gathered by the tens of thousands in public squares, circling around one another on foot, on motorcycle, in their cars. They showed up around 4 or 5 in the afternoon and stayed together well into the next day, at least 3 or 4 in the morning, laughing, cheering, breaking off to debate, then returning to the fray. A girl hung off the edge of a car window “Dukes of Hazzard” style. Four boys parked their cars in a circle, the headlights illuminating an impromptu dance floor for them to show off their moves.

Everyone watched everyone else and we wondered how all of this could be happening. Who were all of these people? Where did they come from? These were the same people we pass by unknowingly every day. We saw one another, it feels, for the first time. Now in the second week, we continue to look at one another as we walk together, in marches and in silent gatherings, toward our common goal of having our vote respected.

No one knew that it would come to this. Iran is this way. Anything is possible because very little in politics or social life has been made systematic. We used to joke that if you leave Tehran for three months you’ll come back to a new city. A friend left for France for a few days last week and when he returned the entire capital had turned green.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Until last week, Mr. Moussavi was a nondescript, if competent, politician — as one of his campaign advisers put it to me, he was meant only to be an instrument for making Iran a tiny bit better, nothing more. Iranians knew that’s what they were getting when they cast their votes for him. Now, like us, Mr. Moussavi finds himself caught up in events that were unimaginable, each day’s march and protest more unthinkable than the one that came before.


Don't you know, talkin about a revolution sounds like a twitter

There's no such thing as a virtual revolution...
Wed, 06/17/2009 - 5:24pm

It's hard to separate the twaddle from the Twitter these days. So let me help. The New York Times today has a story about how the State Department recognized the importance of twitter to the opposition in Iran and is promoting new technologies to support U.S. diplomatic interests. Elsewhere in the same paper, my friend, the tech savvy, ever thoughtful Tom Friedman has a column talking about how Twitter and Facebook and other social networking sites are new tools of dissent in the Middle East. CNN has also run a number of stories on the same phenomenon.

Certainly, these technologies are antidotes to traditional government control of the media. They also play an important role in mobilizing people to take the streets. But make no mistake about it, it is the real flesh and blood protests in the street that are the reason the political unrest in Iran remains a story today. That's because, as Friedman pointedly notes, physical threats trump virtual threats anytime. The protestors in Iran are sending several messages when they gather in the streets. Only one of them is the same as the messages that they are tweeting, texting, and posting on each others' Facebook walls. That is the message that can be conveyed in words, the one on the placards protestors hold up. But by virtue of their overt confrontation with the sometimes brutal Iranian authorities, the opposition is saying, "We acknowledge and accept the risk that the government may use force against us." That is the message that takes effectively neutralizes the power to use force of the police and the military.

Further, by convening tens of thousands of people who are no longer intimidated, the protestors are saying we possess force of our own. You can't put us all down.

That is why the mullahs are pacing the floor long after they've turned off Conan O'Brien every night. (Is there an Iranian equivalent of a late night comic? It's not such an easy job. In Ahmadinejad's Iran, when you say "take my wife, please" she probably actually disappears. Hard to put a laugh track to that.)

Clearly, Iran is in a state of unrest unlike anytime since the Islamic Revolution. Whether these protests ultimately result in change, they have done more than anyone thus far in effectively discrediting the Ahmadinejad regime. (And that's saying something, since Ahmadinejad himself has been so darned effective in that respect.)

New media are playing a vital role in dissolving authoritarianism. But there are few overstatements quite as grand as the idea of a Twitter Revolution. The websites enable. But revolutions require courage, physical confrontation and risk. Twitter is Paul Revere on his horse. But don't underestimate the very old fashioned flesh and blood requirements of real change.

Of course, part of the New York Times's Twitter story is that the State Department obviously sold it to show they are not sitting on the sidelines. They have a 27 year old Stanford graduate keep the tweets flying. While this is not nothing, it's close. Just as Twitter or Facebook offer an incredible simulation of real human interaction and discourse, so too does Twitter diplomacy offer only a simulation of real political support and the kind of intervention governments ought to be pursuing under circumstances like these. (One only hopes that America's silence is shrewd cover for activities to which we should not be drawing attention.)

Finally, I offer this point about the irreplaceable nature of real vs. virtual interaction because I am at the end of a ten day trip around the world to meet with clients and get a feel for what's going on in Europe, Asia and Latin America. As exhausting as it has been (so exhausting that I can hardly muster the energy to attack Sao Paulo's stockyard of an airport as I have so many of the other awful airports I've experienced) what I have gained from really sitting in the room with live human beings beats e-commerce or web-based tours of the horizon anytime. What smells bad, smells bad. What feels uncomfortable, makes you sweat. What inspires outrage, gives you lots of potential real victims to choose from. (And once again, I am back airport bashing. How does that happen?)

But the point is the bonds that are forged are stronger, the commitments more palpable, and the understanding greater. It's difficult to give an accurate picture of the world or build a real relationship in 140 characters or less. Which is why while marathon world tours are not for the faint of heart, I recommend them unreservedly. But that should be obvious by now. Otherwise what possible reason could there be to put up with all those airports?

[Let's not forget who David J. Rothkopf is.]


Total lack of imagination

Can't stimulate demand, can't save ourselves. The ultimate self-destruction.

Why women are unhappy now

There's been a ton of press on studies done recently that claim that women are unhappy now - at least, more so than in the pre-feminist movement 1970s.

The correlation with the women's movement for equality can be provided by increasing reports of unhappiness for one simple and obvious reason: somebody cared enough to ask.

Going beyond that, we can also find that women - during and after feminist social and political efforts - have more choice, and are therefore more likely to be dissatisfied when they are denied access, opportunity, and acknowledgment of their innate value.


CHAOS ensues

We have no idea what's happening, despite the math.

Sometimes I wonder why we bother to "study" anything at all...especially when things like migration motivated by climate change seems so patently obvious!


Call it what you want to: God damn they're good at manipulating symbols

Media conservatives claim Holocaust museum shooter a "leftist"
June 11, 2009 6:13 pm ET

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SUMMARY: Several conservatives in the media have suggested that the alleged Holocaust museum shooter, reportedly a neo-Nazi, was a leftist.


In responding to the June 10 shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, several conservatives in the media have suggested that the alleged shooter, James von Brunn, reportedly a neo-Nazi, was a "leftist," as Talking Points Memo's Zachary Roth has noted. Indeed, in some cases, those media figures have stated or suggested that Nazism itself is "a leftist phenomenon" because the English translation of the official name of Adolf Hitler's political party was the "National Socialist German Workers' Party."

In a New Republic review of Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning -- a book that furthers a similar premise and includes a chapter titled "Adolf Hitler: Man of the Left" -- Guardian America editor Michael Tomasky wrote that Goldberg's theory constitutes "revisionism" because, among other things, "there exist about a million nearly epileptic quotes from Hitler and [Josef] Goebbels and other Nazis expressing their luminous hatreds of liberalism and of communism."

Tomasky wrote:

We have also recognized, since at least the 1950s and in some prescient instances even earlier, that certain consanguinities between the far left and the far right did exist in those days, and that the Nazi program was in some respects a left-wing program, appealing on a class basis -- and, always, a racial basis -- to German workers and the petit bourgeoisie. It was not called National Socialism for nothing. Goldberg goes into great detail on all this in his chapter titled -- are you sitting down? -- "Adolf Hitler: Man of the Left."

Now that is revisionism. But for all his chapter and verse on the proletarian rhetoric that Nazis employed, Goldberg somehow forgets to mention certain other salient matters, like the fact that within three months of taking power Hitler banned trade unions -- and on the day after May Day, 1933. Their money was confiscated and their leaders imprisoned. And the trade unions were replaced with the Nazi "union" called the German Labor Front, which took away the right to strike. Hitler did many worse things, of course. I single out this act because it would hardly seem to be the edict of a "man of the left." And there exist about a million nearly epileptic quotes from Hitler and Goebbels and other Nazis expressing their luminous hatreds of liberalism and of communism, none of which seem to have found their way into the pages of Liberal Fascism.

Similarly, UCLA sociology professor and Fascists author Michael Mann wrote in a Washington Post review of Goldberg's book:

Goldberg finds similarities between fascism's so-called "third way" -- neither capitalism nor socialism -- and liberals who use the same phrase today to signify an attempt to compromise between business and labor. But there is a fundamental difference. The fascist solution was not brokered compromise but forcibly knocking heads together. Italian fascists formed a paramilitary, not a political, party. The Nazis did have a separate party, but alongside two paramilitaries, the SA and the SS, whose first mission was to attack and, if necessary, to kill socialists, communists and liberals. In reality, the fascists knocked labor's head, not capital's. The Nazis practiced on the left for their later killing of Jews, gypsies and others. And all fascists proudly proclaimed the "leadership principle," hailing dictatorship and totalitarianism.

Examples of conservative media figures stating or suggesting that von Brunn was a "leftist" include the following:

* On the June 10 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck, guest Harry Binswanger of the Ayn Rand Institute said, "Well, this Von Brunn's culture is a tribe of racist, anti-Jewish, anti-Negro, anti-immigrant, everything, and therefore he's a phenomenon of the left, because racism is a form of collectivism. The right wing is individualist -- believes in individual rights, freedom, the dignity of each individual life. But it's the left wing -- you know, Hitler was National Socialism, right? It's a leftist phenomenon." Host Glenn Beck replied in part, "[Y]ou look at people who are Nazis, and you say that those are right wing. It doesn't make any sense whatsoever." As Media Matters for America has documented, Beck has repeatedly invoked the Nazis in talking about President Obama and other progressives and frequently uses his program to smear liberals as fascists.

* In a June 11 article -- headlined "Holocaust Museum Shooter: Christian-Hating Socialist" -- managing editor Ben Johnson wrote [emphasis in original]:

Leftists have decided to exploit Von Brunn's madness to engender fear of rampant conservative terrorism. They overlook one point: the shooter was not a conservative.

A review of his lengthy associations reveals Von Brunn hardly fits the stereotype of a Religious Right, GOP precinct captain. He denounced the Christian faith as a dastardly Jewish conspiracy, a "HOAX" invented by the Apostle Paul to "DESTROY ROMAN CULTURE" from within by undermining its pagan virility. (All screaming capitalization and grammatical errors in this piece appear in the original.) Like others on the racist fringe, the shooter proclaimed clearly: "SOCIALISM, represents the future of the West."

Johnson's post was subsequently highlighted by NewsBusters under the headline "Holocaust Museum Killer Conservative? Not So Fast!"

* On the June 11 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, Rush Limbaugh said, "Very predictably, ladies and gentlemen, the media, the American left is trying to score some political points as a result of this tragedy at the Holocaust museum in Washington yesterday, and as predictable, they are trying to blame this on me, other conservatives, and right-wingers. It's the traditional approach taken by the American left." Limbaugh continued:

The facts of the case, however, are such that if we want to start assigning blame for this beyond this nutcase Jew-hater -- and notice that very few people actually want to do that. They want to claim this guy didn't have the ability to act on his own. He only could act if he was inspired by somebody. Well, who did he hate? He hated both Bushes. He hated neocons. He hated John McCain. He hated Republicans. He hated Jews, as well. He believed in an inside-job conspiracy of 9-11. This guy is a leftist, if anything. This guy's beliefs, this guy's hate stems from influence that you find on the left, not on the right.

From the June 10 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:

BINSWANGER: It's only going to get worse, because under pressure, people should resort to their standards and principles, but they don't have any standards and principles today. Standards have been knocked down by our universities who tell us that truth is relative, there is no morality; it's all your culture or my culture.

Well, this Von Brunn's culture is a tribe of racist, anti-Jewish, anti-Negro, anti-immigrant, everything, and therefore he's a phenomenon of the left, because racism is a form of collectivism. The right wing is individualist -- believes in individual rights, freedom, the dignity of each individual life. But it's the left wing -- you know, Hitler was National Socialism, right?

BECK: How did, Harry -- how did it --

BINSWANGER: It's a leftist phenomenon.

BECK: How did it happen that this was -- that you look at people who are Nazis, and you say that those are right wing. It doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

BINSWANGER: Well, there was a deal made between the communists and the Nazis in Germany in the '30s where they each agreed to define themselves as the opposite of the other. You see the percentage in that -- you define my gang or your gang, and you rule out of court any other possibility, such as freedom without any gang rule.

BECK: Right.

BINSWANGER: So it's actually a strategy adopted in Germany in the Weimar Republic in the '30s.

BECK: We're -- we're -- America, we're surrounded by people who want to control you. You've got the government that is -- I think, just going crazy out of control. You have -- you have some crazy nutjob who wants to control what races are here, you know, how -- what our makeup looks like. You have everybody who is struggling for control, and I think you are just somebody that just wants to be left alone, quite honestly. Just wants to be -- let me just, please, let my kids go to school, be safe. Let me go to work, let me -- let me just have a normal life. But it's getting harder and harder.

— H.D.
Expand All Expand 1st Level Collapse All


Peter Schiff tells it like it is

I must say that this is one of the most satisfying interviews I've ever seen.

An economy that runs on consumption and transferring money is no economy at all.

Now someone that knows a hell of a lot more than me says so too. [I told you so.]


Valid point but, luddite

Virtual Insanity
Mon Jun 8, 2009 4:15pm EDT

By - The Big Money

Telecommuting is one of the signature game-changers of the information age, leveling out geography and creating all kinds of working relationships that had never been possible.

NewWest.Net is almost a paradigm of a semivirtual organization, with employees and contractors scattered around the West-and yet constantly in contact via e-mail, instant messaging, Skype, and the telephone.

But if someone in the Missoula, Mont., office wants to work from home without a very good reason, I have a simple answer: No. And if we're hiring, we prefer to recruit people who can come into the office every day, even if the job could be done from anywhere.

Years of experience with far-flung organizations have taught me more about the limits of telecommuting than about its advantages. I firmly believe that you should expect employees to show up for work, whenever possible, no matter what kind of company.

The reasons for this have nothing to do with checking that people are actually working. It's about efficient communications, building company culture and camaraderie, and sharing the daily bits of work and personal experiences that create a shared sense of purpose.

For starters, all the telecommunications tools and document-sharing systems in the world are no substitute for the simple act of walking over to someone's desk and pointing to something on a screen or asking a question. It's almost always quicker than any technological alternative, and there's little room for confusion.

This issue increases when more people participate in a task. Coordinating input from three or four or five people via e-mail is a recipe for errors and misunderstanding. And conference calls are so far inferior to face-to-face meetings that I barely bother with them at all. Rather than the collective engagement of a good meeting, you end up with people half-listening while they catch up on e-mail. Plus lots of awkward silences.

The little day-to-day stuff can matter more than you think. In our small office, we don't have a full-time receptionist, and everyone takes turns answering the phones. If we need stamps or office supplies, someone has to run to the post office or the store. If we need to chase away the bums that like to hang out in the alley by the door, it's always good to have a little backup. If only a few people are in the office while others are working from home, resentment can build quickly.

And the problems grow with distance. Before I launched NewWest.Net, I worked a brief stint overseeing a group of reporters in Europe from my home in Missoula. This did not work at all. With my team eight time zones away, it was impossible to work closely. And the 20-hour, three-leg flight to visit got old very fast. Even at more modest ranges, there's a disconnect when one person is finishing breakfast and chatting about the sunny day while a colleague is getting ready to head out to lunch in the snow.

Obviously there are plenty of situations where you just have to suck it up and deal with these complexities. Our Boise, Ind., editor needs to be in Boise. We draw strength from having reporters and salespeople on the ground across the region-in fact, it's central to our business model. And for the best talent, you often have to compromise, even if that means hiring someone far away or letting them work from home.

But do not make such compromises lightly. And when you do, try to find as many reasons as possible to get people together. A company retreat can be very useful even if it accomplishes no other purpose. If someone has a deal to work from home, ask them to come by the office as often as possible. Bring the out-of-towners to the home office whenever you can afford to. If you want everyone on the same page, start with having them in the same place.

[Face to face interaction is irreplaceable. No doubt. But restricting ourselves to face to face interaction as a form of communication is like sticking fingers in ears, closing eyes, and walking five miles over to the next farmhouse - it was once the only way, but it is no longer.

Virtual organizations, supported by the networked technologies available, are able to accommodate the mobility, immediacy, and multitasking reality of today's work and home life. And that's not a bad thing.

What's important is knowing WHEN and HOW to use technology to improve communications. For example, the likelihood that I, or anyone else whose primary connection to the news is via blog posts and google alerts, would have read this Luddite's ranting, is slim without the dissemination of metatags. So, really, can it unless you're planning to talk to me face to face.]

Not about the hardware

At least Apple understands this: the race to $0 will always happen in the physical technology. The ideas are, however, increasingly valuable.


Damn Diana Hughes!

This woman is a gamerock star!

Here's a little commentary on the impressions she made at E3.

I mean... Awwww!


Greenspan told US so

Addressing Systemic Risk
Remarks by Alan Greenspan
By Alan Greenspan | American Enterprise Institute
(June 03, 2009)

On June 3, 2009, former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan spoke at an AEI conference on systemic risk. Participants discussed the pros and cons of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's plan to create a systemic risk regulator for the financial system. Mr. Greenspan's full remarks as prepared for delivery are available here as an Adobe Acrobat PDF.

Alan Greenspan Smiling

Former Federal Reserve
Chairman Alan Greenspan

Risk of system-wide breakdown is an unavoidable characteristic of market economies. So long as there is a division of labor and, hence, private trading counterparties, the possibility of systemic failure cannot be eliminated. Financial institutions that require significant leverage to yield an adequate rate of return on equity are especially prone to a disabling "run on the bank." A depository institution depends on investors' willingness to hold its liabilities, knowing full well that if all lenders attempted to withdraw their monies at the same time, the bank or thrift would fail.

Only an institution whose assets are overnight riskless Treasury bills or their equivalent can consistently fend off failure. But no private institution could fund that portfolio, except at a loss. Thus, financial institutions, to profit, must hold portfolios of risky assets in order to obtain a rate of return in excess of private borrowing costs. And for such institutions to be consistently profitable, their portfolio must be successfully diversified.

Banking has always been a game of inducing depositors, or in earlier centuries note holders, to fund bank assets. In the 1840s, for example, U.S. commercial banks had to maintain a capital buffer in excess of 50% of assets in order to create willing holders of their notes. In modern times, this necessary capital buffer has dwindled, reflecting improved information availability and the existence of various government safety nets. However, even with deposit insurance and activist monetary authorities, many banks and other financial intermediaries, have failed, sometimes with disastrous systemic consequences.


Murdering murderers is ok by god

Media: Tiller a Martyr, Abortion Not Killing and Pro-Lifers are Crazy
By Colleen Raezler
June 2, 2009 - 09:55 ET

George Tiller, the Kansas doctor notorious for his commitment to performing late-term abortions, was killed May 31 while attending a Sunday morning church service.

By his count, Tiller performed 60,000 abortions. His clinic, Women's Health Care Services in Wichita, was one of only three clinics in the United States that offered abortions after the 21st week of pregnancy.

Loss of human life is a tragedy and should be reported as such, and premeditated murder is always wrong - something all the mainstream pro-life groups were quick to affirm in the wake of the killing. But in reporting this tragic story, the news media have much to say about a man who helped provide women with the "right" to end their pregnancies, but have little to say about lives he helped to end. In failing to highlight what Tiller's work actually entailed, reporters do nothing to help their audience understand why this man was targeted.

Noncontextual gendered typing

Post a Comment

Posted by: alan h
June 1, 2009 4:49 PM

So essentially, women want from technology pretty much similar things to what men want! I know, I know, the marketing folks out there will think it's madness, but you know? I think this study just might be on to something...

No, that's for old people

Twitter At The Vanishing Point

Posted by Michael Hickins, Jun 1, 2009 09:01 AM

For months, we've heard that Twitter, the fastest-growing social network this side of Facebook, was at the tipping point of relevance. Well, maybe it's more like the fastest growing social network this side of MySpace.

The vanishing point is that spot in the horizon where the sea meets the sky, where a ship's tallest mast blends indistinguishably into the fuzz of clouds and froth. Or where a phenomenon dissipates into the milky froth of a cappuccino and everyone realizes that there's no there there.

Maybe it's just growing pains and Twitter will right itself, but the last month has been unkind to Twitter. The most recent setback is a glitch that prevented the service from providing real-time search. If Twitter is going to last longer than a twinkle in co-founder and de-facto spokesman Biz Stone's eye, this is the kind of service it has to get right so it can charge businesses for the right to use it. I can't wait for Stone's next apologetic blog post, likely titled something like, "Holy F**dback."

There's also the fact that, for what seems like the fiftieth time this month, it turns out Eve doesn't know @Eve from Adam. Again, if businesses are going to trust the comments are genuine -- and that Tweets from the boss aren't actually from @rival -- they have to work this out. And that won't be easy considering that Twitter needs to have a frictionless sign-up process. They can't very well ask for a credit card for authenticate purposes.

Add to the list the mind-numbing idea of a reality show where contestants receive Tweets from the audience that help them win the treasure hunt, unmask the false millionaire bachelor or tell them when their spouse is cheating on them. All good for a lark until @Ashton threatens to quit Tweeting if anything like this comes to pass.

Indeed, of all the misfortunes to have befallen the chirping social network, the much-bandied stat that Twitter tweeters throw in the towel quickly might be the worst. As cell phone companies will attest, you can only achieve so much growth when your customer base is churning out from under your feet.

And unlike cell phones, Twitter isn't exactly catching fire with Generation Y (its biggest demographic is the 35-49-year-old set). My 13-year-old daughter just got back from an overnight with her entire grade, a night in the country under the bright stars, howling coyotes and iPhones buzzing with Facebook updates and viral YouTube hits.

"Does anyone in your grade use Twitter?" I asked her.

She rolled her eyes. "No. That's for old people," she said.

I realize I might as well have asked her about MySpace, that other high-masted phenomenon that has tipped over the cusp of the curving globe in time for the next social network to be born.

xbox 360 pulls ahead

Xenophobic capitalism counterproductive

The Peril of 'Buy American'
Submitted by Benton Foundation on June 3, 2009 - 8:18am
Last updated: June 3, 2009 - 8:18am
Source: New York Times
Author: Editorial staff

[Commentary] It's not surprising that Democrats in Congress could not resist adding a "Buy American" provision to the fiscal stimulus bill earlier this year. It might seem sensible (or at least politically useful) to ensure that taxpayer dollars would be used exclusively to support American jobs. But as states and municipalities start spending stimulus money, the idea is starting to look as counterproductive as it should have looked from the beginning. It is sparking conflict with American allies and, rather than supporting employment at home, the "Buy American" effort could ultimately cost American jobs.

Fox describes alien phenomenon

Explaining scientific possibilities while weaving doubt:

Strange circles have once again appeared in the frozen surface of Lake Baikal in Siberia, as spotted by astronauts aboard the International Space Station this April. News reports described the ice rings as a puzzling phenomenon.

But experts say they can explain the mystery, and it's not aliens — methane gas rising from the lake floor represents the likely culprit.

Methane emissions can create a rising mass of warm water that begins swirling in a circular pattern because of the Coriolis force, or the phenomenon caused by the Earth's rotation that also helps create cyclones.

"Once the water mass reaches the underside of the ice on the surface of the lake, the warm water melts the ice in a ring shape," said Marianne Moore, a marine ecologist at Wellesley College in Massachusetts who has spent much time studying Lake Baikal with Russian researchers. The lake is the largest (by volume) and deepest fresh water lake on Earth.

The latest ring patterns included a circle of thin ice with a diameter of 2.7 miles (4.4 km), although the circular patch was becoming a hole of open water. Astronauts spotted similar ice circles in both 1985 and 1994, and satellites have also made sightings over the past years.

This phenomenon is nothing new to the Russian government, which has documented circle sightings on an official Ministry of Natural Resources Web site.

"Interestingly, the government is also warning people that abnormally high emissions of methane may occur in these areas in the summer and fall, posing risks for ships," Moore told LiveScience.

The Russian Ministry of Natural Resources points out that random emissions of natural gas have probably always occurred in Lake Baikal. And such emissions would have created ice rings every few years.

"But, because of the huge size, it is practically impossible to see a ring standing on the ice or even from a mountain," the Ministry Web site notes. The Russian government has ordered daily space monitoring of the Lake Baikal area in recent years, which prompted many of the satellite sightings.

Tectonic activity deep in the Earth may be the trigger for such methane gas release, according to the Russian government.

That could have major consequences for Lake Baikal's rich array of plants and animals, Moore cautioned — especially in combination with a warming climate. Both could lead to spring ice disappearing more rapidly from Lake Baikal, which can typically hold onto an ice cover through June.

"Unlike other lakes in the world, spring ice is essential for the reproduction of the lake's top predator (the Baikal seal) and the dominant plants (under-ice phytoplankton) at the bottom of the food web," Moore said. "Without spring ice, the food web of this lake will be disrupted substantially."


Economic identity defines national boundaries

Iraqi Kurds begin oil exports

Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region has begun exporting oil to international markets for the first time, despite disagreements with Iraq's central government.

Workers turned on the pumps at northern Iraq's Taq Taq oil field on Monday, sending oil flowing via pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

"It is a historic date, a giant step," Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraq's Kurdish region, said at an opening ceremony.

"We are proud of this success, and this achievement will serve the interests of all Iraqis, especially the Kurds."

The project had been beset by delays, with Kurdish officials locked in dispute with the central government in Baghdad over how to distribute the country's oil revenues.

'Illegal' export

Baghdad has for months called the Kurdish move to export oil illegal because the deal was struck independently of the central government.

But Al Jazeera's correspondent Hoda Abdel Hamid said the government has now"quietly given the Kurds the green light for these oil exports", essentially because it needs the money the commodity will bring.

"Total projected oil revenues for the year could be as high as $36.5bn, but not enough to cover the government's day-to-day expenses," she said.

"Kurdish exports could soon reach 250,000 barrels per day worth $15m - a boon for the Iraqi government."

The Kurds are set to get 17 per cent of the oil revenue, equal to their estimated share of the overall population, while Baghdad will get the remainder.

Initial exports are estimated to be around 40,000 barrels a day from Taq Taq, but a Kurdish government spokesman said officials expect the level to reach 250,000 barrels a day by the middle of next year.

I love Mario

but this almost makes me want to kill myself.

In the past...