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27 July 2010

The NFL Does The Right Thing

From the NYTimes.

Previously from Malcolm Gladwell.

Readings From Monday

This is a free movie produced by a group of two guys called the Yes Men. Basically they find ways to trick event promoters, journalists, and talk show hosts into believing that they represent some company. They then go on to embarrass the company by revealing truths, stating positions that make sense but that the company themselves would never agree to, or just straight up comedy. At the very least watch the first 10 minutes or so.

Economists View via Krugman (seem to be reading a lot of him lately... yet he's so accurate and great at representing data) - why the climate bill was killed.

The Big Picture explains why deficits don't matter much to bond holders which is kind of an explanation of what Krugman would call the invisible bond vigilantes. thirty year bond notes are still below 3%... Also, AMAZING graphic on federal income and expenditures.

(Explanation of what I'm talking about - bonds being below 3% means that EVERYONE is willing to lend the US government money because they view it as safe. This goes somewhat counter to the idea being promulgated by conservatives that as the government amasses more debt bond buyers will at some point be completely unwilling to lend the government money and bond prices will soar and we will be unable to finance our expenditures - i.e. Greece. My own addition to this is that the US government enjoys a position of lender of last resort to the world - that is - if we default the world we know will cease to exist. It will make the Great Depression look like a shallow recession. It's like the Supreme Court, it's not that they're infallible, they're infallible because they're the highest court in the land.)

The Big Picture on net worth on as percentage of disposable income.

Algae as a biofuel seems to be nearing the possibility stage.

The biggest story of the day - wikileaks published 77,000 reports from Afghanistan that give a different view of the war then what is generally portrayed.

This is a must read: Martin Wolf, a British economist, explains supply side economics or rather the failure of along with a host of other scientifically broken models that politicians love to tout. Scarey. Here's Krugmans simple take down of supply side economics.

Nanosecond market trading pushes the envelope of internet speeds for all.

25 July 2010

Sunday Reading

From the NYTimes: The Supreme Court is getting more conservative.

The Bush tax cuts of '01 and '03 are expiring and Republicans are vowing to extend them while Democrats plan to extend only the cuts to the middle class (under $200,000 a year per individual or $250,000 a year for a family, yea... middle class) and below - which only accounts for 95% of the country, but the Republicans are drawing the line in the sand. Surely a party that talks about balancing the budget AND keeping taxes low for the rich can be taken seriously.

An old article from Slate by Krugman on cornering commodities markets, in this case copper. This is in response to a British man doing the same now to cocoa - that is, chocolate.

Completely random: Clownfish change sex and stay small to form social hierarchies. Very short and utterly fascinating.

BP does some terrible photoshopping on "official images" of the oil spill clean up effort.

The DOT (Department of Transportation) is looking at creating water highways for barges to alleviate road traffic. Which is interesting because ships are the most efficient way of transporting large quantities of anything... but yet require so much resistance from water to move. I wonder if anyone has ever conceived of a barge sized train?

Machete, the spoof trailer from Grindhouse, is actually getting made. I'm excited. Here's the new trailer.

21 July 2010

Death Tax Part II

A while ago I wrote about the fact that this year the death/estate tax for 2010 would be repealed, and for a while it looked like Congress would fix it. Somewhat shockingly the law, part of the Bush tax cuts, is still in place. Just to make sure we're all on the same page - this only affects the very wealthy which I consider anyone who stands to inherit a million dollars or more. There are 3.1 million millionaires in the US or about 0.6% of the population, so that's who the Bush tax cuts were helping in this instance (trickle down theory still doesn't work).

Just as a refresher:
In 2000 anything over 1 million was taxed at 55% and in 2011 same rules, without adjusting for inflation, come back into play, and between those periods the law changed to 3.5 million and 45% and this year just nothing.

Freakonomics wrote about it, then Krugman picked it up and pointed to an article he wrote in 2001. They're both calling for wrongful death suites and the like when people pull the plug on granny in late December this year. Government tax policies will literally give incentive to people to commit homicide. Should be interesting.

05 July 2010

Rome - 2010-7-5

The Pantheon

Best coffee (espresso) ever - hands down.

Awesome looking older gentleman who wouldn't talk to me. He was carrying around an old twin reflex Rollei camera.

Michelangelo's Pieta - the only work he ever signed (on Mary's sash).

St. Paul's Basilica.

550-something stairs to the top.

If you stand in one spot...

All the columns line up.

03 July 2010

02 July 2010

Munich Dachau - 2010-7-2

I went to Dachau. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting - it just wasn't that horrifying, that is, until I went to the cremation sheds.

The "shower."

Among the upsetting things about the whole camp was the obvious amount of technical prowess that went into building something like this. This combined with that fact that Dachau is really not that far from Munich makes it seems rather obvious that the whole country knew what was up.

Work makes free.

Munich - Day 27 - 2010-6-27

Marienplatz in Munich late at night. I just like their UBahn system.

Brandhorst Museum by Sauerbruch Hutton, the same firm that did the GSW building. I really like this firm. This building has colored vertical strips of terracotta cladding covering a perforated metal rainscreen underneath.

This is the most complex shading system I've ever seen. It even tops the GSW building. Vertical fritted glass panels rotate to regulate incoming light while a metal grating provides a fixed shade, ventilation, and a walkable surface...

... then on the inside automated louvers that wrap around both vertical and horizontal surfaces, in this case the ceiling, adjust to bring in the perfect light. A very impressive feat of both engineering and design.

The inside is muted (which I think is great for presenting art), very well lite, the rooms are all the appropriate size (unlike a certain addition in Chicago by Piano), and the detailing is well done - down to some mitered edges on a continuous running vent near the wall that wraps around the room.

This is Funf Hofe Shopping Center by Herzog and De Meuron. It's a bunch of old buildings combined, refitted, and added to new buildings to form a partly covered partly open shopping space with multiple looks.