Archive for August, 2009

links for 2009-08-31

  • The Internet's great promise is to make the world's information universally accessible and useful. So how come when you arrive at the most popular dating site in the US you find a stream of anonymous come-ons intermixed with insults, ads for prostitutes, naked pictures, and obvious scams? In a design straight from the earliest days of the Web, miscellaneous posts compete for attention on page after page of blue links, undifferentiated by tags or ratings or even usernames. Millions of people apparently believe that love awaits here, but it is well hidden. Is this really the best we can do?

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links for 2009-08-24

  • One of the founding principles of free market theory, for example, is the idea that markets work best when there is a free flow of information.

    Yet, some of those bankers who have been promoting free market rhetoric in recent years have also been preventing the widespread dissemination of detailed data on, say, credit derivatives prices. Similarly, while bankers have taken the idea of creative destruction as an article of faith, in terms of how markets are supposed to work, they have been operating on the assumption that their own industry would never suffer too violent a wave of creative destruction.

  • These napkins have been getting a lot of circulation. They've been ranked among the most frequently cited presentations on SlideShare since I've been posting them this week. I've sent links to my Senators Pelosi and Feinstein, and have sent them through to contacts I met at the Senate while giving a workshop there last year.

    If you know somebody in the administration who could use help clarifying what the heck is being talked about, please pass along these links.

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links for 2009-08-23

  • What they found is that honesty is an automatic process—but only for some people. Comparing scans from tests with and without the opportunity to cheat, the scientists found that for honest subjects, deciding to be honest took no extra brain activity. But for others, the dishonest group, both deciding to lie and deciding to tell the truth required extra activity in the areas of the brain associated with critical thinking and self-control.
  • To be sure, there are honorable conservatives, trying to do the right thing. There is a legitimate, if wildly improbable, fear that Obama's plan will start a process that will end with a health-care system entirely controlled by the government. There are conservatives — Senator Lamar Alexander, Representative Mike Pence, among many others — who make their arguments based on facts. But they have been overwhelmed by nihilists and hypocrites more interested in destroying the opposition and gaining power than in the public weal. The philosophically supple party that existed as recently as George H.W. Bush's presidency has been obliterated. The party's putative intellectuals — people like the Weekly Standard's William Kristol — are prosaic tacticians who make precious few substantive arguments but oppose health-care reform mostly because passage would help Barack Obama's political prospects.

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links for 2009-08-22

  • I don’t know if administration officials realize just how much damage they’ve done themselves with their kid-gloves treatment of the financial industry, just how badly the spectacle of government supported institutions paying giant bonuses is playing. But I’ve had many conversations with people who voted for Mr. Obama, yet dismiss the stimulus as a total waste of money. When I press them, it turns out that they’re really angry about the bailouts rather than the stimulus — but that’s a distinction lost on most voters.

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links for 2009-08-18

  • In the world of pricey art galleries and top museums, the paper trail behind a painting is almost as important as the work itself. This documented history, a painting’s “provenance,” proves the work’s authenticity and can raise its value to staggering levels.

    A new book tells the riveting true story of a con-man and a talented, struggling artist who teamed up to pull off what Scotland Yard called the “biggest art fraud of the 20th century.”

    How did they do it? Why? And what did it mean for the world of art?

    This hour, On Point: “Provenance.” A painter, a con-man, and a fraud for the ages.

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links for 2009-08-17

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links for 2009-08-14

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