The Network of Global Corporate Control, as revealed by a research group at ETH Zurich (kind of the Swiss MIT). Their core finding: a densely connected “super entity” of 147 corporations, about 75% of which are financial intermediaries, has an amount of control which is ~10 times as great as their economic scale would suggest. They are all majority owned by by other members of the super entity, and so have co-incident interests, and are likely to act as a bloc to protect themselves and each other, and to be subject to simultaneous group failure when under duress. Not like this is a huge surprise or anything, but it’s nice to see it described in a quantitative framework.
An hour long interview based documentary by some Dutch filmmakers about the changing social and economic realities of southern California, in the wake of the financial crisis, and America’s general malaise.
It’s dangerous to cling to an identity which is no longer compatible with reality. Remember the Norse and their Greenlandic colonies. In the long run I think adaptability is the greatest kind of power you can wield. Evolutionary power.
We need, in so many ways, to move beyond thinking of ourselves as consumers, instead of citizens. Consumers, instead of producers and creators. Society and culture are almost infinitely flexible, if you’ve got the right mindset and a reason to change.
If you want to follow my shared links in real time instead of as a weekly digest, head over to Delicious. You can search them there easily too.
Continue reading Links for the week of September 11th, 2009
- Privacy and the Fourth Amendment – Our laws, or at least, our interpretations of them, desperately need to be updated to deal with information and privacy in a computer mediated world. What will be the framing cases, and how will they shake out? Apparently the warrantless wiretapping wasn't a big enough scandal to get us paying attention. Terrifying to imagine what it will take. (tagged: privacy law security technology )
- Moyers on America . Is God Green? – Bill Moyers (himself very Christian) investigates the recent emergence of green evangelicalism… (tagged: religion sustainability green christianity moyers environment )
- Vast Spy System Loots Computers in 103 Countries – NYTimes.com – Asian cyberspies, able to watch and listen through your computer's camera and microphone, even if you work in an embassy? And they somehow leave the dashboard for their giant cyberspyring out in the open, on a website, with no password? Are you kidding? Is it just me, or does this reek of Neuromancer? (tagged: security internet technology espionage china tibet nytimes )
- The Quiet Coup – A withering op-ed by Simon Johnson on the policy disaster that is our financial sector. But he's still not willing to re-evaluate the underlying premise of perpetually debt fueled exponential economic growth. How, exactly, was this all supposed to work out? (tagged: politics economics finance bailout crisis policy banking imf )
- MASHSF – Fixies gone wild. Not my kind of riding, but hey, someone's having a good time! Looks like they're making a movie. (tagged: bicycle fixie video cycling )
- Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable – A good epitaph for the newspaper, by Clay Shirky. Now if only Elsevier would go bankrupt too. (tagged: technology economy history internet copyright publishing newspapers )
- Will Banks Start to Walk Their Talk? Don't Hold Your Breath – I thought that whole spiel about how Citi and friends were suddenly going to be profitable sounded suspicious. All they had to do was redefine the word "profit" to mean whatever they wanted it to mean! Brilliant! The innovations that flow from our Commanding Heights never fail to amaze. (tagged: baiilout finance economics policy politics banks citi )
- Our Pigs, Our Food, Our Health – Massive overuse of antibiotics in livestock feed breeds bacteria resistant to antibiotics? Whodathunkit! WTF is this article doing on the Op-Ed page? Shouldn't someone be out there in Iowa winning a Pulitzer over this? Or is it too obvious to even warrant investigation. We're going to look back in 100, or 50, or 25 years and deeply regret squandering the limited miracle of antibiotics on cheap bacon. This is what we get for refusing to teach evolution. (tagged: health evolution antibiotics agriculture food mrsa livestock farms )
- Obama Tells Business Roundtable: “If You’re Giving Away Carbon Permits For Free … It Doesn’t Work” And “The Science Is Overwhelming” – Joe Romm usually bugs the crap out of me, but this is actually a decent piece, trying to get across the point that Obama really, actually appears to understand what would be required to get carbon pricing implemented and functional, both from a policy and a political point of view. The sooner industry starts planning around this, the better it'll be for everyone. (tagged: climate carbon economics auction policy obama energy )
- Hussman Funds – Weekly Market Comment: Buckle Up – I don't see any reason to trust Hussman more than the normal investing talking heads who do about as well as chance would predict, but he can do division:
The course of defending the bondholders of insolvent institutions is not sustainable. Do the math. The collateral behind private market debt is being marked down by easily 20-30%. That debt represents about 3.5 times GDP. That implies collateral losses on the order of 70-100% of GDP, which itself is $14 trillion. Unless Congress is actually willing to commit that amount of public funds to defend the bondholders of mismanaged financials so they can avoid any loss, this crisis simply cannot be addressed through bailouts. Bondholders have to take losses. Debt has to be restructured. There is no other option — but the markets are going to suffer interminably until our leaders figure that out. (tagged: finance crisis banks investing bailout )
- Tent City Rapidly Growing in Sacramento – Wow, a tent city forming within Sacramento? What proportion of people ended up living in shantytowns and similar impromptu dwellings and communities during the Great Depression I wonder. Ironic and sad, given the absurd oversupply of housing is what in large part triggered this economic mess. (tagged: homeless economy depression sacramento california shanty )
- Wikileaks cracks NATO's Master Narrative for Afghanistan – For the love of god, even the Pentagon can't get its users to pick decent passwords? Classified messaging (propaganda) documents regarding Afghanistan posted on publicly accessible website, encrypted with the super-secret ultra-secure key: 'progress'. (tagged: propaganda transparency war pentagon military security internet )
- Nationalization for Beginners – A nice short readable set of the possible definitions of "Nationalization" in the context of the banking crisis. Opponents usually mean Soviet style State Banks, proponents generally mean FDIC style conservatorship. What we've got now is a horribly opaque mishmash. (tagged: bailout crisis finance fdic economics )
- Rep. John Conyers: A Reply to Larry Lessig – Conyers replies to Lessig's fairly aggressive critique of HR801 in public. Not convincing. (tagged: politics science openaccess hr801 lessig conyers publishing )
- Talk on China and the Global Internet at Harvard – Rebecca MacKinnon gave a talk on the future of China within the context of the global Internet. Haven't watched it yet, but downloaded to my iTunes, and her blog is good. Ethan Zuckerman blogged it. Interesting to see how different cultures evolve their relationship with the machines independently (and how it mediates our interactions with each other) (tagged: china internet technology transparency censorship harvard )
- Fight against terror 'spells end of privacy' – Admiral Poindexter's Total Information Awareness is alive and well, and living in the front bedroom. Privacy is dead. Long live privacy! Transparency is our only hope. (tagged: transparency privacy surveillance police terrorism )
- FairShare — Watch how your work spreads. Understand how it is used. – A system for tracking how your content is re-published across the web, and potentially monetizing that re-use, or just making sure that people are abiding by your creative commons license. (tagged: copyright creativecommons technology openaccess )
- Dmitry Orlov: Social Collapse Best Practices – I'm sure I won't agree with Orlov on a lot of things, but I want to watch this just to see what the Dark Side is talking about. And he's reportedly funny too. (tagged: collapse economy crisis bailout longnow )
- Designing a Zero-Waste City: A Visit to the San Francisco Dump – San Francisco has a stated goal of zero waste to landfill by 2020. They currently divert 70% of their municipal waste stream, composting yard and food waste, taking in construction materials, sending usable furniture, clothes, plants, etc to thrift stores. The dump even has a coveted "Artist in Residence" program. (tagged: green urban design landfill compost waste sustainability sanfrancisco )
- Highway to hell revisited – A conservative commentator railing against… highways? Barring the political crap at either end of the article, I think he's got a pretty good critique of our national obsession with massive roads projects. Too bad we're just dumping a ton more cash into them. (tagged: transportation policy stimulus highways cars )
- This Old House – Conservative columnist David Brooks (from late last year) talking about how one might reasonably go about using the stimulus to re-invest intelligently, instead of just gushing cash at the construction industry. Sadly, his fears appear to have been largely realized. (tagged: transportation policy stimulus infrastructure obama urban nytimes )
- Goodbye to the Age of Newspapers – I just don't buy the lament of the newspapermen. If the papers were subsidizing the collection of "real" news with ads, how sure are we that people ever wanted news? Why exactly should we believe that there ever was some public interest at heart in journalism? I'd say it's just as likely that the fragmentation of digital media, and the trend toward tabloid fluff, is an indication that nobody (or at least, not enough people) really cared about the "serious" news in the first place. Disaggregated, opinionated, (truly) non-profit journalism will certainly be different than the muckrakers, or Big Media, but it's unclear to me that it will be worse in any way for government transparency, or democratic interchange. (tagged: technology media government transparency democracy )
- The Crisis of Credit Visualized – Another great popularly accessible explanation of how we got into this mess, this time in cartoon form. Too bad there weren't any regulators in the story! (tagged: economy crisis financial animation mortgage subprime )
- Bank insolvency: tips & tricks – Never, ever, feed a zombie bank. The great thing (or, one great thing) about blogs is that you can talk about serious and technical issues, using analogies to zombies. Try that in the Economist, or the WSJ. (tagged: economics finance stimulus bailout fed banks zombie )
- Ann Druyan Talks About Science, Religion, Wonder, Awe, and Carl Sagan – Musings from Ann Druyan (Carl Sagan's partner) on how we might apply the wonder of the cosmos, as revealed by science, toward the creation of naturalist spiritual communities. (tagged: science religion sagan atheism naturalism cosmos spirituality )
- There's no reason for non-recourse – Options are valuable. That's why we have markets for them. The trillion dollars worth of non-recourse loans (cf pawnbroker) which the Fed is apparently about to offer up to the finance industry, will, because they are non-recourse, lead to a misvaluation of the assets being bought, even if they're being bought by private entities, because the penalty for non-repayment is simply forfeiting the asset (which might very well end up being worthless). The Fed is acting like a pawn shop, but a dumb one: what pawn shop in its right mind would let you exchange your cubic zirconia for half the value of a diamond? (tagged: finance economics crisis bailout fed geithner bernanke )
- Do the British love their children too? – Two girls run over while biking to their school 3 miles away. British (and probably American) "solution": re-allocate a school bus to their area (removing the bus from somewhere else). Dutch/German/Danish solution: provide better cycling infrastructure for everyone. Guess which one I think is better. (tagged: bicycle transportation infrastructure accident bike )
- MIT open prototype initiative – A project to produce modular, open (freely available, non-proprietary) prototype designs for energy efficient buildings. MIT is so awesome. (tagged: green architecture design building )
- LEED Platinum Prefab Home Now Available – Taking all the design work out of building zero energy homes should make it a lot easier to build them, but the contractors doing the actual construction still need to understand what they're doing, and how their application of building techniques will affect the end performance of the building (and their profits need to be tied to that performance somehow) (tagged: green architecture leed construction buildings )
- Kidnapping Chrysler – Of course Cerberus (private equity firm that owns Chrysler, not three headed dog guarding hell) has a "fiduciary obligation" to seek a handout from the Feds. And by Jove, the Feds have a fiduciary obligation to refuse to give it to them! (tagged: bailout chrysler cerberus crisis economy gm )
- Where data goes when it dies – Following from the Ma.gnolia implosion, Chris Messina muses on data loss and recovery… kind of an information grieving process. What are we going to do with all of this information anyway? 100 years from now, all historians will have to be AI. (tagged: data archive backups loss microformats recovery )
- What really happened at Ma.gnolia – The social bookmarking service Ma.gnolia was, despite its surprisingly large user base, basically run like Ideotrope – one guy with a server, and some (in retrospect) pretty janky backups. A couple of weeks ago, the 500GB MySQL database file got corrupted, the backups failed, and the site imploded. Lessons to be learned indeed: number one is don't do your own IT, now that S3, EC2, the Google Apps Engine, and other such scalable enterprise systems are available. We gotta get that server retired… (tagged: backups magnolia data servers hosting )
- Baseline Scenario for 2009-02-09 – A rundown of the current global financial situation, and governmental attempts to get things under control. These guys aren't particularly optimistic at the moment about our ability to acknowledge just how beholden our supposedly powerful and developed governments have become to the banking industry. We're acting like Indonesia or Russia with their oligarchic overlords. (tagged: finance economy economics crisis )