the collaborative inertia problem, farm sunrise wallpaper, deficit vultures

Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky

With this many people involved, the collective leverage that can be brought to bear on any particular project or problem is colossal. Whether it’s “couch surfers” pooling resources to create an international network of sofas for each other to sleep on, or the open-source community of programmers that maintains Apache, a free program that now drives more than 60% of the servers constituting the internet itself, the world’s collective cognitive surplus is already being put to transforming uses. And the fun, Shirky says, is only just beginning.

There are those who have proved either allergic or immune to Shirky’s particular brand of optimism, arguing that the power of social media is extremely limited in the face of many intractable real-world problems, and can even exacerbate them, both by making it easier to track activists and by displacing energies that might have been better expended elsewhere. To accuse Shirky of preaching a panacea, though, is to misunderstand the simplest fact about the emerging technological and social landscape he describes: that it represents not so much a replacement of existing systems as a restoration of many far older and more intimate kinds of human relations.

Wikipedia is cited as an example of what can be accomplished with world-wide collaborative efforts. Despite its short comings Wikipedia is a fair place to start on a subject – though if they would keep their links to sources up to date and make sure the ones they have work, that would be nice. I want to be a believer and the best of net initiated collaborative activity may yet live up to Shirky’s optimism. The first thing that spring to mind as I read this article was Facebook. It just surpassed 500 million users. There are lots of groups over there for every cause you can think of. It is one infamous Alaska politician’s major connection to the world. The Mount Sinai of her digital commandments. On the other hand it does have the Environmental Defense Fund. A great group that we can thank for having drinking water far less polluted than it would be without them. Out of 500 million people EDF has 2,600 members. The American Civil Liberties Union, dedicated to defending the U.S. Bill of Rights, has a whopping 36,500 members. The adult population of the U.S. is a little over 200 million ( total about 320 million) and we have millions of internet users of which a mere 36,500 care about defending the BOR. More people will watch the worse rated day time soap today than have even read the BOR. Maybe we could run it across the bottom of the screen during Grey’s Anatomy. People will think or leisurely ponder issues, but their enthusiasm ebbs and flows. The net still cannot make people into activists.

farm sunrise wallpaper

Beavis said to Butthead, if you put the land in the hands of the private sector they will intuitively know it is in their best interests to be good caretakers of that land, Libertarian Rand Paul: Controversial Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining Isn’t So Bad — It Enhances The Land! I’m sorry to see that Randy, like his dad, seems to suffer from some rainman syndrome. Mountaintop removal is only a few degrees better than dropping a nuke on one.

Beware of the Cowardly Deficit Vulture It Nests with Corporations, Squawking for Tax Breaks, Bailouts and Military Contracts that Have Little to do with National Security

A mature hawk knows that budget politics are complicated and that borrowing is the path of least resistance for both major political parties. It understands the pressure that politicians face from powerful constituents that want both tax cuts and preferential spending.

That’s why a mature deficit hawk would reconsider the prudence of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for households with incomes over $250,000, which are due to expire at the end of this year. Retaining the tax cut would add $826 billion to the national debt over the next decade.

But the deficit vulture takes flight when faced with the possibility of reversing reckless tax cuts for multi-national corporations and the very wealthy. Instead, it appears bold about cutting retirement benefits for future generations.

Seasoned hawks also demonstrate support for two proposals that would generate over $200 billion per year and strengthen the U.S. economy: closing overseas tax havens and instituting a financial speculation tax. This is wisdom we should follow.

U.S. multinational banks and corporations use overseas tax havens to reduce or avoid taxes, adding billions to the deficit and creating phony subsidiaries in places like the Grand Cayman Islands. They compete unfairly against responsible domestic businesses that pay taxes. Such tax-dodging costs responsible American taxpayers an estimated $43 billion to $123 billion a year.

A financial speculation tax is a modest levy on financial transactions, such as the purchase and sale of stocks, bonds, derivatives, and swaps. One proposal would collect a penny on every four dollars of financial transactions, generating an estimated $177 billion a year. Hawks in England and Taiwan have secured such taxes on securities that encourage productive investment and discourage the kind of reckless trading that crashed our economy.

To continue the tortured analogies let’s say the Bush tax cuts – which cons said would pay for themselves – were a magic alchemists mix of economic goodness which would taste yummy in 8 years. The cake seems to have matured into a putrid mess. Cons and libertarians, faithful to the point of having knee burns, swear now is not the time to look for new recipes, the old cake is fine. Rotten cake does seem to taste fine to the wealthy, not so much for everyone else.

More here.

“(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” by Weezer.

Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable set of The Misfits. The Misfits(1961) was the last film either of them made. Monroe had done some filming of “Something’s Got to Give”, but died before that film was completed. The Misfits was written by the great American playwright Artur Miller and directed by John Houston. It also starred the legendary Eli Wallach who was recently in The Ghost Writer (2010) with Ewan McGregor. Wallach plays the old man who lives at a beach house near where the body was found and supplies Ewan’s character with a clue that aids with his suspicions about the death of the former ghost writer.