know your memes
Posted on July 26th, 2009 at 11:31 pm by jaz

Thank god someone is finally giving the keyboard cat and shamwow the academic analysis they deserve.

the only actual benefit i can see honestly is that it serves as a way of connecting the various remixes and tributes across different video networks.

Dead Prez: Summertime
Posted on July 26th, 2009 at 10:39 pm by Steve

You’re Positively Glowing, My Dear!
Posted on July 24th, 2009 at 4:51 pm by Steve

No, really:

Researchers in Japan made this images of the visible light that’s emitted by normal bodies. Scientists speculate that metabolic processes give off miniscule amounts of visible light.

Wading Into The Swamp…
Posted on July 23rd, 2009 at 1:46 pm by Steve

Newspaper article comments are the swamps of human intellect. Granted, some posts are thoughtful and respectful. But, taken in their aggregate… they simply make me despair being human.

Take the fabulous entry below. It was attached to an article about the Cambridge police officer, who arrested Henry Louis Gates, appearing on a Boston radio program the morning after President Obama called the officer’s actions “stupid.” (Backstory: Gates was arrested in his own home for creating a public disturbance; the police were called to the house by a neighbor who reported a possible break-in; Professor Gates was trying to force his front door open, because the lock had broken; the police demanded to see ID, Gates bitched him out and demanded his name and badge number, and the cop arrested him.)

So now, here’s poster #205, on the article about the radio show interviewing the cop and discussing Obama’s comment:

I am sad to say that I voted for him. Now I regret it. If America knows whats (sic) best for them they will make sure he is not re-elected. He pops off at the mouth and thinks he dosn’t (sic) have to answer for it because he is President. Sorry but last time I checked this is a democracy not communism! I am so disgusted in Obama! Where was it Kentucky that he sent his goons after the Governer (sic) to shut him up or they get nothing!!!! Ok Hitler!!!!

Posted by Lisa July 23, 09 12:05 PM

TV Nation
Posted on July 23rd, 2009 at 4:38 am by dr.hoo

Neilsen, the company that tells us which crappy TV shows are the country is watching, has just released a report that we now have more TV’s than humans in the USA.

Come to think of it, I have 24 TV’s in my house alone. Just doing my part I guess.

In 2009, there were nearly 115 million TV homes in the US, each averaging 2.86 TV sets, according to a new Nielsen study.

That computes to nearly 329 million TV sets — more than the entire US population, estimated at 307 million by the US Census Bureau.

And the average number of TV sets-per-home has been growing steadily. It was up 18 percent over 2000 (2.43 sets-per-house) — and up a whopping 43 percent over 1990 (when it was two TV sets-per-home).

Should’ve Paid Attention in “Stocks for Jocks” (EC 10)
Posted on July 22nd, 2009 at 1:18 pm by Steve

Writing in Vanity Fair, Nina Munk explores Harvard’s staggering endowment losses in Fiscal 2009 (the amount they lost that year is about DOUBLE the total amount of the endowment in 1993):

last December [2008], the university sold $2.5 billion worth of bonds, increasing its total debt to just over $6 billion…

To be clear, even if you’d tried hard, you could not have picked a worse time to sell bonds than December 2008; that was the precise moment when credit markets seized up. But Harvard, it seems, had no choice. Unwilling to sell its assets at fire-sale prices, it needed immediate cash to cover, among other things, what my sources say was approximately a $1 billion unrealized loss from interest-rate swaps

Those swaps, put in place under Harvard’s then president, Lawrence “Larry” Summers, in the early 2000s, were intended to protect, or hedge, the university against rising interest rates on all the money it had borrowed. The idea was simple: if interest rates went up, the swaps would bring in enough money to cover Harvard’s higher debt payments.

Instead, interest rates went down. And for reasons no one can explain to me, even as interest rates were plunging in 2007 and 2008, the university simply forgot, or neglected, or chose not to cancel its swaps—with the result that Harvard wound up facing that $1 billion loss! Whose responsibility was that? Where were Harvard’s chief financial officer and treasurer while all this was going on?

When you remember that the so-called “Masters of the Universe” and “financial wizards” who run Wall Street and the world’s major corporations are educated at places like The Big H… maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising that The Big H itself was the biggest financial loser in the latest round of global economic catastrophe.

Posted on July 21st, 2009 at 9:13 pm by Steve

It might have come down from Amazon’s headquarters reading something like this:

kindle 7.17.09 allowing orwell downloads doupleplusungood refs unbooks revert fullwise

OK, when it comes to writing in doublespeak, I’m obviously no Winston Smith. What I’m trying to say is this: on July 17th, Amazon reached into Kindle devices across the globe and deleted all traces of the book Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell.

Claiming they’d mistakenly allowed the book to be sold by a publisher who didn’t own the rights, Amazon remotely erased both Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm from hundreds of devices, and credited the accounts of the affected Kindle owners.

Amazon promised, though, that they’ll never do it again.

An Incredible Degree of Elegance
Posted on July 21st, 2009 at 1:46 pm by Steve

Allowing for the identical Apollo guidance computer (AGC) in the Command Module (CM), containing a program called COLOSSUS, it is correct to say that we landed on the moon with 152 Kbytes of computer memory.

That quote, and the link included in it, are from a paper by Don Eyles, introduced by the BBC as “a 23-year-old self-described ‘beatnik’ who had just graduated from Boston University and was set the task of programming the software for the Moon landing.”

These days it’s rare to find an icon that fits in 152 Kbytes of computer memory!!! Those guys wrote all the software that got a spacecraft to the moon and back.

I walk by the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory every day… but today I have special respect for the kind of work those people did, and do.

Winners and Losers (which are you?)
Posted on July 21st, 2009 at 11:55 am by dr.hoo

goldman sachs fortress

Goldman Sachs Fortress of $$$

Looks like not everyone is hurting in this economic downturn. Check out Matt Taibi’s recent RS article in which he uncovers how Goldman Sachs has managed to manipulate markets and their own regulators to make the major economic bubbles of the past 100 years into massive profit booms for their firm. Even now, they have used the recent bailouts as an opportunity to “to pick the American carcass clean of its loose capital”.

Guess having your former executives as your overseeers has it’s advantages.

They achieve this using the same playbook over and over again. The formula is relatively simple: Goldman positions itself in the middle of a speculative bubble, selling investments they know are crap. Then they hoover up vast sums from the middle and lower floors of society with the aid of a crippled and corrupt state that allows it to rewrite the rules in exchange for the relative pennies the bank throws at political patronage. Finally, when it all goes bust, leaving millions of ordinary citizens broke and starving, they begin the entire process over again, riding in to rescue us all by lending us back our own money at interest, selling themselves as men above greed, just a bunch of really smart guys keeping the wheels greased. They’ve been pulling this same stunt over and over since the 1920s — and now they’re preparing to do it again, creating what may be the biggest and most audacious bubble yet.

If you want to understand how we got into this financial crisis, you have to first understand where all the money went — and in order to understand that, you need to understand what Goldman has already gotten away with. It is a history exactly five bubbles long — including last year’s strange and seemingly inexplicable spike in the price of oil. There were a lot of losers in each of those bubbles, and in the bailout that followed. But Goldman wasn’t one of them.


Awesome Analemma
Posted on July 20th, 2009 at 3:16 pm by Steve

Anthony Aylomamitis created this stunning image that records of the sun’s position, viewed from the Parthenon, on a total of 41 occasions between January 12 and December 21, 2002. The top position is the Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere, the bottom the Winter Solstice. Pretty freakin’ awesome.

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