Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Game Development, Transparency and "The Architechs"

===From the Transparency Front===

Turning our gaze upon our paid protectors -- From Boing Boing: NYPD cops videoed illegally warring on photographers: This video compilation of numerous near-simultaneous arrests in NY is a nice example of how consumer technologies can help to balance abuse of authority. A fascinating study in the trend I forecast, of smart mobs holding authority accountable. This is how we'll get truly professional police. And yet...

And yet, I have to tell you that I have decidedly mixed feelings. Yes, the lapses in professionalism -- and outright lies -- of the cops deserve nailing. They must learn (apparently with some difficulty) to live in a world of cameras... and rights.

Still, the scenes depicted were drenched in the drug high of self-righteous indignation on both sides. There were scores of people in Time Square just itching for a confrontation, heckling, taunting and veering in front of guys who are... at a deep level... just human males high on adrenaline. Yes, the woman who would not show her ID was within her rights. But she could have given them their little ritual of control, and they had already proved that would likely be enough.

I want to emphasize, I am on the side of the smart mob. But I would betray this movement if I weren't able to criticize it.

These things need to be smarter, calmer, and far more mature.

See more recent developments on The Right to Record Police.

==From Games to ArchiTechs==

I contributed to Game Development Essentials: An Introduction, by Jeannie Novak (and followup volumes.) If you want to develop games... and that's it for now.

My briefly-run design-challenge show, The ArchiTECHS, will one last appearance on the History Channel, Friday morning May 2 at 5 am (Eastern) ... and... 6am (Pacific). (Sorry to have missed that. It's 3am Mountain and 5am Central.)

Set your Tivo to a wide window, just in case! (See my previous entry for description. Anybody know a likely sponsor? ;-)

Or copies can be ordered from the HC web site.

==And Finally==

Heck, while I'm at it....here are some shocking items:

Want the current economic crisis explained? See my friend (and extremely smart world pundit) Mark Anderson offer some unusual insights.

Those of you who thrilled to the “big dog” robot video really ought to see the satire.

53 comments:

David McCabe said...

Does anyone else find Big Dog terrifying, both viscerally and rationally?

Thanks for the Mark Anderson link; certainly it needs explaining.


Sir, I have a hard time sympathizing with your view on the police here. Since the charges against the original biker were dropped, I assumed he wasn't fleeing the scene of a murder. Meanwhile, the cop pushed him over, which could have killed him. And if we're talking about mobs, I see a mob of police: how many officers are here? A dozen? Why?

"These things" amount to a thug pushing a man off a bike (after first walking out in front of traffic, it appeared), then a lot of thugs illegally harassing anyone who filmed it. Then lying about it. How exactly were the photographers supposed to react? Even the one who started to walk away was arrested on the other side of the street. The lady at the end apparently panicked when, without announcing that she was under arrest, half a dozen men took her down.

Of course, the film is edited, so who knows what really happened?

The point is, assuming the editing is not itself a lie, what exactly should the photographers have done differently? I didn't see any law-breaking or even annoyance of officers besides filming and chanting. If the cops can't handle that, they are unfit for office, surely. What should the cops have done differently? Well, they didn't shoot anyone: that's something.

When you think of the lies of these men, and how many people must be in prison today, from when the cops lied and there were no cameras, when you think of how these brutes hide their crimes behind the concept of the rule of law... what exactly are you complaining about?

With deepest regards,

Jester said...

Sorry, Dr. Brin, but we're dealing with a Seargant who falsified a police report, needlessly assualted citizens, violated the rights of citizens to peacable assembly, and quite honestly put his fellow officers in danger.

The entire feeding frenzy was started by the one bad cop who has managed to rise to a position of authority. I hope these activists start following him around Black Panther style without the shotguns.

The other officers can all be seen behaving essentially reasonably, making no assualts on the activists, using no unreasonable force. "Step back ten feet" in a polite tone of voice. Trying to do their jobs without infringing on others rights or abusing their authority. Good cops, at least on film.

Wrong to arrest or even hassle the woman who was simply photographing them? Certainly, but even in the face of taunts, they retained their composure and used no agregiously excessive force.

As emotionaly charged as that scene is, as much as the sight of grown men laying hands on a woman who offered no threat bothers me, (the sort of adrenaline spike that scares me, to be honest) they did endanger her or themselves.

No unwarranted use of nightsticks, tasers, mace, or fists. Good for them.

No, we've got one prick here who was in command, and who enjoys throwing people to the ground. The animal needs to be hounded out uniform.

Untill the rest of those cops, several of them clearly uncomfortable and even embarassed (view the second video) learn that their duty to the public is more important than their duty to their badge, I see no other course.

gmknobl said...

Yes, they bikers were poking a tiger. That's not smart. However considering the history of NY police with bikers and indeed in general for the past several years, officers who abuse authority should be targeted and taken down exactly like this. It's only effective if the policemen involved are disciplined or brought up on charges. They need to be taken down a few notches and retrained on how their jobs should be carried out, that is, if they even deserves to keep their jobs.

Andrew said...

Here's a nightmarish scenario: Will Hillary run as an independent if she loses the nomination?

I hope this article is just an anti-Clinton provocation...

zorgon the malevolent said...

Not specifically on topic, but here's yet more encouraging news -- including a biggie involving electronics...

Where are they? Scientist explains why he hopes no life discovered in our solar system -- it would mean we might be on the track for interstellar travel, a much higher level of technology, and good things all around:
Link.

Why does the human brain need so much of the body's energy energy? Scientists now think it's because the brain constantly repairs itself:

A new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA indicates that two thirds of the brain's energy budget is used to help neurons or nerve cells "fire'' or send signals. The remaining third, however, is used for what study co-author Wei Chen, a radiologist at the University of Minnesota Medical School, refers to as "housekeeping," or cell-health maintenance.
Link.

Man regrows part of finger (not reattaches, regrows, including nail and nerve cells) after treating severed fingertip with cells scraped from a pig bladder and treated biochemically.

"There are all sorts of signals in the body," explains Dr Badylak.
"We have got signals that are good for forming scar, and others that are good for regenerating tissues.
"One way to think about these matrices is that we have taken out many of the stimuli for scar tissue formation and left those signals that were always there anyway for constructive remodelling."
In other words when the extra cellular matrix is put on a wound, scientists believe it stimulates cells in the tissue to grow rather than scar.
If they can perfect the technique, it might mean one day they could repair not just a severed finger, but severely burnt skin, or even damaged organs."

Link.

And potentially the biggest and most encouraging news of all:

"The long-sought after memristor--the "missing link" in electronic circuit theory--has been invented by Hewlett Packard Senior Fellow R. Stanley Williams at HP Labs (Palo Alto, Calif.) Memristors--the fourth passive component type after resistors, capacitors and inductors--were postulated in a seminal 1971 paper in the IEEE Transactions on Circuit Theory by professor Leon Chua at the University of California (Berkeley), but their first realization was just announced today by HP. According to Williams and Chua, now virtually every electronics textbook will have to be revised to include the memristor and the new paradigm it represents for electronic circuit theory.

(..)"The memristor is not just a replacement technology for existing memory devices, but will be used to make a whole range of new types of devices that no one has ever thought of before," said Williams."

Link.

Andrew said...

There is some doubt about the finger regrowing story.

Anonymous said...

There's some things that there isn't any doubt over...

http://media.www.pittnews.com/media/storage/paper879/news/2008/03/26/News/Upmc-Regrows.Mans.Fingertip-3283113.shtml

http://healthjournal.upmc.com/0705/RegenMed.htm

It's sad that I have this at my fingertips. ;-)

David Brin said...

Cool re memristors and regrown fingers Z!

As for you other guys having-at me for "defending the cops" please note that I did no such thing. They deserved the scrutiny and the shaft for bad, lying, bullying behavior.

But anyone can open his eyes wider, while witnessing an event. And if you guys missed the steamy atmosphere of that scene, the FESTIVAL OF SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS that was going on. All those cameras and bikes weren't there at random.

Ever see a swarm of starlings mob an eagle? Even as carefully edited as that scene was, to remove any blatant crowd -originated provocations, you could tell, the cops were being swarmed, taunted, provoked.

And the answer was NOT for the cops to behave the way they did! Male hormones or not, we pay them to be calm adults and this test is one they should have passed!

The way for them to solve such problems is to LOOK BACK at their tormentors. There should have been a friendly cop-auxilliariy recording all the things the smart mob did. Those that were illegal might then be calmly looked into later. And the legal taunts? Post em for their moms to see.

Dig it. I am not opposed to smart mobs. I want em smarter. And THEY should be able to stand scrutiny, too.

Stefan Jones said...

Ben Stein in an interview on Trinity Broadcasting:

Stein: When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. Myers [i.e. biologist P.Z. Myers], talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed … that was horrifying beyond words, and that’s where science — in my opinion, this is just an opinion — that’s where science leads you.

Crouch: That’s right.

Stein: …Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.

Crouch: Good word, good word.


(From.)

That's . . . disgusting. And f@#$ing lie. Does Stein believe that humanity never indulged in massacres and murder before The Origin of Species was published? Or that religion was never used to justify pogroms, extermination of native peoples, forced conversion, and slavery?

I am ashamed to live in a country where the media treats this jerk (among others) as a trusted commentator.

David McCabe said...

So, this mob would be analogous to a sting operation? Setting up the police, seeing if they do the right thing, catching them if they don't? Could somebody find a link to what all these cameras were doing here, if it wasn't random? (Isn't the square just hopping with tourists 24/7?)

I think I see your point better now, Dr. Brin. Still, even if a mob deliberately assembled to taunt the police (which I doubt happened here, but we can't be sure yet), couldn't this be seen as a tiger-team operation, removing unfit officers before they do more harm in real crime situations? I still don't see how you can blame the mob if our officers can't stand up to them properly.

zorgon the malevolent said...

BIG MEA CULPA

I screwed up big-time. Looks like the "regrown fingertip" story is junk science. In my defense...you just don't expect bad info like that from a major paper like The Guardian. Still, I screwed up. Should've checked the story more thoroughly before posting.

David Brin said...

Dave, you get it. And ALL vigilante justice by amateurs will, by its nature, be chaotic, ill-trained and fraught with moral hazards.

We MUST enter an era of a million such accountability swarms! It is why I donate to PROJECT WITNESS! But that does not require me to close my eyes. As a contrarian I will say "Yes but!" to everything, even my side.

ESPECIALLY my side. Because, in order to win, we have to keep getting better. Smugness is a worse enemy than the enemy himself.

---

Stefan! That Stein interview filled me with blood frothing wrath! I will post about it. Thanks.

Oooog I gotta go swim

Jester said...

This wasn't a "Sting", as is clearly evidenced by the first part of the tape in which they are simply trying to ride by the cops and avoid interaction, and further evidenced by the complaince of most of those doing the filming in leaving the area, backing up, ect.

Even the girl they assualted at the end was trying to leave rather than escelate the situation. I totally get the crowd reaction once they laid hands on her, and I am not confident that a cop would not have spitting teeth like chiclettes had I been there.

That said, once one cops starts a needless physical altercation like that, the others have no idea if the girl just pulled a knife or what - they've got to assist instantly, which they did without excessive force.

When I was a kid, I used to egg teachers who were really world class assholes into hitting me and losing their jobs. I was good at it.

Still proud of it, in fact.

Dealing with a pig like this Seargant, egging him into commiting an act of unquestionable police brutality on film is the right thing to try to do.

Doug S said...

I've heard that people will naturally regrow fingertips if the finger is severed above the last knuckle...

Captain Button said...

FWIW, my onscreen cable guide says that here in Georgia (Eastern time zone), The ArchiTECHS: Skyscraper is on from 6 am to 7 am on the History channel tomorrow morning. i.e. starting just over 7.5 hours from now.

Sociotard said...

It's hard to know all the details with the bicycle arrest story. If you look at the first 20 seconds it looks as if the cyclists may have been running a red light. You can't see the actual lights, but you can see the pedestrian walk lights, and it looks like they were set to go the other way.

In fact, this may have been an instance of 'corking', where cyclists stop in the middle of the road so cars won't go, so that a mass of other cyclists can pass through without incident. I looked up more info, and this is a group called Critical Mass. Of course, that doesn't excuse the officers for arresting people for filming or for falsifying reports, but it doesn't make this video look fair or balanced. It doesn't mention what laws the cyclists did break. It also doesn't mention that New York has a "stop and identify" law. That means that police can legally make you show ID and arrest you if you don't. The Supreme Court upheld that law in 2004. (Well, a nevada district supreme court did. I'm not sure if their decisions apply to New York or not.)

Sociotard said...

This is what happens when I take a long time to put a post together. I miss stuff.

Thist wasn't exactly a "sting". It was a protest by group that likes to break the law. They brought lots of cameras with them as part of their protest.

Sociotard said...

Incidentally, does anybody here remember the D.C. Madam? The one that tried publicly blackmailing politicians, with an "If you don't let me go, I'll make these records public" stunt.

She committed "suicide". Yeah. Right. It was a suicide.
http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/myfox/pages/Home/Detail?contentId=6439948&version=5&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=TSTY&pageId=1.1.1

Robert said...

It seems that Obama is picking up another former DNC chairman, Paul Kirk. This comes after yesterday's defection of Andrews from the Clinton camp.

Hopefully we'll be seeing the last of the Wright/Obama bull settle in time for the NC/IN primary, and Obama may manage to pull off wins for both. Especially if Obama uses the fact Clinton voted against an amendment banning the confiscation of legal privately-owned firearms in emergencies... which is rather suggestive of Clinton's true feelings about gun ownership and the 2nd Amendment, even if she shot ducks as a kid.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

atolley said...

Whatever else Mark Anderson is, he is not an economist. His explanation of the current crisis is just ... wrong.

The carry trade with Japan is a red herring and his misunderstanding is evident when he keeps calling it "global liquidity". Listening to him is like listening to pseudo-scientific gobbledygook.

Dr. Brin, clearly you are on much firmer ground with science than with economics, otherwise you would not be recommending this item.

David Brin said...

Anderson's worldwide newsletter is followed closely by nearly all the tech-business CEOs and investment houses like Goldman Sachs, that have NOT been caught with their pants down.

I agree, he often comes up with a grand Theory of Eevrything that exaggerates like heck. e.g. blaming Greenspan for lowering rates some years ago, when the real blame should go to the regulators who allowed those low rates to be used to make criminally unsecure loans.

But he's a smart guyand people see interesting things in his "stories".

Hey, nobody demands the *I* be right all the time. Of course I brag insufferably when I am... ;-)

KidB said...

As someone who has lived in NYC for eight years, I've seen enough of Critical Mass "events" like this one to know that this video extremely biased.

Left-winger that I am, it seems odd that I'd come out in favor of the cops in this case, but I have to. CM is a highly confrontational, belligerent activist group which has left me, as a pedestrian, feeling unsafe and threatened on a number of occassions. They come barrelling down some of the most crowded city streets after dark, in thick groups of several hundred, ringing their bells and yelling and carousing. They often block traffic and harass drivers. They use these tactics in San Francisco as well, where I used to live, and I'm far from the first person their to object to them there:

http://www.brookemaury.org/2006/07/28/critical-mass-can-kiss-my-pedestrian-ass/

I've been to three anti-war protests in NYC, and I've always found that the police excercise a great deal of patience and restraint, even in the face of some appallingly adolescent behavior on the part of certain protesters who seem to think that every cop is paid personal minion of GWB himself.

That young woman who was arrested at the end of the video is a perfect example - she started screeming like a banshee the moment they laid hands on her, trying to make the scene look as horrible as possible. Its a tactic used by some of the most belligerent activists, like that taser guy last year, who started shreiking and kicking as soon as one security guard laid a hand on him. It's an attempt to look like he's being "assaulted."

As someone who feels a strong need to protest my government in public, I really despise these antics, which unnecessarily create unsafe, antagonistic situations.

This video was, as far as I'm concerned, a transparant set-up. A 360 cam? C'mon. They were looking to film some "abuse."

Matt DeBlass said...

I'm a cycling enthusiast myself, an occasional commuter and sometime participant in Critical Mass rides here in Jersey.
I can definitely say that CM varies from place to place, the local ride here in Flemington (tiny town, it only rates because it's a county seat) is fairly polite and friendly. While a bunch of bikes on the streets may annoy some drivers, it's really innocuous and intended to raise awareness, as well as have fun.
However, I've been to or seen other ones where the goal seems just to be to antagonize anyone not on a bicycle, or, even if 75% of a large ride are there with good, if somewhat cheerfully subversive intentions, you still get a gang who are looking for trouble. In our highly specialized cycling lingo, we refer to them as *ssholes ;-)


That being said, I think the police, particularly the Sgt. reacted badly to the situation. As was said somewhere above, the whole point of police is that they are supposed to handle crazy situations professionally.

Tony Fisk said...

I would say that groups like Critical Mass have a certain responsibility to deal with their *ssholes, when they turn up.

Police tend to come into contact with the seamier side of human behaviour more than most. It can skew their views on the goodness of their fellow man, and make them more cynical. That said, I'd certainly fault the sergeant on two counts: knocking a cyclist down, and arresting the guy with the pan cam after he'd backed off to the other side of the street (however, I'd like to know what prompted the sergeant to come after him)

I find it rather sad that police seem to feel instinctively ashamed of going about their normal duties. They should have felt able to derive a certain degree of pride from their job. In fact, a reciprocal 'camera copper' in this situation might have provided them with enough passive empowerment of their own to do just that.

Viewing the situation from a purely technical standpoint, now. I found it quite instructive to be able to see the same events from different viewpoints (it also shows that what was going on took place over a much shorter period of time than the overall viewing length) Ever since police called on the public for photographs in the wake of the London bombings to track the bang boys' movements, I've been mulling how one might collate all this information. What I envision is a sort of 3-4D panorama using 'simbots' to reconstruct the overall scene. Photographs and video/sound clips could be embedded at appropriate positions and orientations to act as POV windows you could look through to see what is really going on at a particular time.

I believe Microsoft have been thinking on these lines as well. Seconf life seems to be a good platform for this but, not being a second lifer, I couldn't say for certain. Any other thoughts?

Robert said...

Thought I'd reprint something I posted in the comments field of Daily Kos, on a thread by a Clinton supporter who claimed Obama had more negatives than Clinton:

Okay. Let's for a moment ignore the fact there is a bloody aircraft carrier load of us who will not, for any reason, vote for Senator Clinton. (Note: some Clinton-haters will not vote for her because of her husband. Some will not because they dislike her. Some because of both. I'm in that last category.)

Clinton has not actually been vetted. Senator Obama has been remarkably polite and restrained against his competitor in an effort to wage a positive campaign. Even when he went more negative, he resisted the urge to pull out the big guns and start dragging out the things people whisper constantly about the Clintons.

Take for instance the whole "elitist" bit. Clinton had trouble operating a coffee dispenser. She is a multi-millionaire, along with her husband. She doesn't buy her own gas, she doesn't drive her own car, she basically has everything done for her. Yet she has the audacity to claim Obama is elitist. The tarbrush would be applied to her twice as heavily and that tar would stick.

We have a pending lawsuit where a friendly judge has decided she doesn't need to testify until after the elections are over, so not to "taint" the process... but you can be sure the Republicans would be all over this. We have a multitude of possible misdeeds... and it doesn't matter if she is guilty of them or not, the Republicans would use these misdeeds to paint her as a candidate that makes Senator Kerry look decent and respectful (note - I used to live in Massachusetts, I know what he's "done" for the state and it's not a heck of a lot).

She was raised in an environment of divisiveness and playing both sides against each other. The Clinton presidency was not a good one. It just happened to be during good times, and thus it appears rosier than it was. (Note, it was still far better than the Shrub presidency, I will grant it that.) We don't need divisiveness now. We need leadership that brings both sides together.

And finally... Clinton stated that she would use nuclear weaponry on Iran if Iran attacked Israel with a nuclear weapon. Indeed, she said she'd obliterate Iran. This is not diplomacy. This is just more along the lines of what the Shrub would do as President.

We need a leader who is willing to be greater than his or her ego. We need someone who is willing to talk, who is willing to listen. We need someone who is willing to admit that America cannot come out on top every single time... that sometimes you have to give a little in order to help others become something greater.

Clinton is not that leader. And that is why I am willing to vote for Obama... who will bring about change... who will inspire a new generation of young legislatures to sweep into Washington and into the various State legislatures and I don't care if they're Republican, Democrat, Green, Libertarian... I want them to believe in doing your best, in not pandering to the special interests, to fight for our rights!

Obama will inspire that. Clinton will squander it... which is why I refuse to vote for her. Ever.

Rob H.

Matthew Sanborn Smith said...

I watched the Architechs this morning (at 6 Eastern) and I enjoyed it. It's a shame it won't be a series. Did you mention that other episodes were made? If so, are they available on DVD?

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin and others,

I hope you will consider a possible reason for why the NYC Critical Mass group is known as much more aggressive and confrontational than the hundreds of other groups around the world.

The NYPD has been known to use undercover officers and informants as provocative agents since at least the 1960s. Most recently, they used undercovers to provoke incidents during the RNC protests.

A decentralized group with no defined leadership like Critical Mass is ripe for infiltration. A good way for their undercovers to gain credibiliy with the fringe protest groups would be to have them roughed up publicly by the uniforms.

Since from the Sean Bell killing, it looks like the NYPD uses the last scene of "Bonnie and Clyde" as a training film, I wouldn't put anything past them.

David Brin said...

Matthew, thanks for the nice words on the show. The other (design a new Humvee) show was also great, but has never shown and can’t be shown, legally. Maybe someday...

Robert you are unfair. The Clintons were (era-adjusted) among the poorest individuals to ever occupy the White House. They owned almost nothing - not even a small house - and yet we were tormented by right wing attacks on a mere $80,000 investment that they LOST money on. (Find me one GOP officeholder of any kind who has not done that much graft in any one month period.) That fact, alone, puts a huge burden of proof on accusers.

If the Clintons are rich now, it is in part enjoying getting even with a vicious slander machine that swore it would leave them in poverty, paying off legal bills for the rest of their lives.

Seriously, Robert, are you able to let go of phlogisten? Astrology? Belief that the world is flat, just because it looks that way?

NOTHING from the Bill Clinton era should be raised right now except public policy successes/mistakes. There are plenty of those and I deeply hold HRC’s 1993 health care fiasco against her, for so bungling the issue that poor kids are still not covered. Incrementally, she could have got that much, and the neocons would not have swept in, in 1995, to bring on the new American Dark Age. But she just had to go whole hog. THAT is an indictment.

OTOH, I say this oepnly. ANYONE WHO DREDGES UP UNPROVED ROMORED NASTY BULLSHIT ABOUT THE CLINTONS FROM THE 20TH CENTURY IS AT BEST A DELUSION-ADDICT.

We suffered a billion dollar witch hunt -- a BILLION DOLLAR WITCH HUNT. Pres Bush took scores of federal agents off duties protecting us during the months before 9/11 in order to find the “smoking gun” - an act that is tantamount to outright treason - and, with access to every record in the federal govt and total subpoena power, they came up with absolutely nothing.

Can you picture the word "nothing" and what it means? Not one Clintonite at any level, among thousands of appointees was EVER dinged for job-related malfeasance. Ever.

GROW UP and accept that “innocent till proved guilty” should especially apply when the accusers have wholly-invented a million mudballs and used a billion dollars in resources and betrayed their country, all in a psychopathic hate-festival that is genuinely and diagnosably sick.

And they did it - successfully - in order to distract guys like you, so they could rob us blind.

As for the Clintons not deserving credit for good times, oh what a writhe! We could argue “luck” all day. But there is one fact. They let the civil servants alone do their jobs. Hence we were stolen from at record low levels. Under Bush, the civil service had been effectively eviscerated - almost destroyed - and we have had several trillions stolen. Them’s the raw facts. So don’t give me no baloney about the Clinton prosperity being accidental. At worst, they let society function. That’s huge.

Find some basis for your hate, Robert, I beg of you, or let it go.

Or at least don’t complain when somebody does the same thing to you, making incredible accusations that you can never, ever, ever disprove. (Imagine how that will feel.)

ANONYMOUS, I totally agree Critical Mass can get infiltrated. But in this case, to what end? The Police came out viral-YouTubed into hell. I bet you only a few non-rightists (like me) have pointed out a little balance. Again, this smart mob thing is very young. And has its very nasty sides, and we all have to get much better at this, before it really transforms society.

Hank Roberts said...

Further thanks for the Mark Anderson link.

Hear also: Terry Gross interview:
Our Confusing Economy, Explained

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89338743

Short answer: credit default swaps, total value greater than the stock market, much of it vapor.

Message: a whole shadow market (derivatives) was created by slipping a few lines into a bill, written by lawyers, that the Congress didn't read and isn't smart enough to understand. It took only a few years to soak up more money than the total value of the stock markets, and collapse.

[39 min 8 sec]

Fresh Air from WHYY, April 3, 2008

Law professor Michael Greenberger joins Fresh Air to explain the sub-prime mortgage crisis, credit defaults, the shaky future of other types of loans and what we can expect from the U.S. financial markets.

Greenberger is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law and the director of the University's Center for Health and Homeland Security.

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Brin said...

All right, we both did it. Except there's this. I would have a hard time with most modern coffee machines. And spending the last 30 years with an intern always bringing you coffee doesn't mean squat.

Sure, HRC's Iran remarks were thumb-up-the-ass dumb. Any side can come up with a dozen craphola things to tar the other guy with. Rev Wright included.

What I look for is consistent results.

BILL Clinton was consistently either honest or too smart ever to get caught. And with absolute consistency, he let public officials honestly do their jobs.

GWB is absolutely consistent at having done everything in his power to destroy Pax Americana.

Hillary falls in between. She absolutley showed horrific judgement in her all-at-once attempt at health care and I have seen other judgement lapses too.

But there's not a scintilla of evidence for anything dishonest, whatsoever, in her past or present. Moreover, and above all she would appoint honest supervisors who would let the civil service go back to work. And that is (I swear it) 90% of what we need right now.

And if I have to vote for Hillary Clinton to get that, I will campaign through sleet and hail for her.

Robert said...

Dr. Brin, you are suffering from the same reflexive knee-jerk reaction that you accuse me of. If you look at what I said, you will find that nothing I said was actually false. Clinton herself admitted she doesn't pump gas any longer - the Secret Service does. In the same publicity event, she implied that she hasn't bought gas either. I'm not making this up. This is stuff from videos of her in action that I found on Daily Kos (which is a Liberal blog).

The coffee machine? There's a bloody VIDEO showing her fumbling with it and being unable to operate the machine. This is the same sort of thing that sunk Daddy Shrub in 1992, except back then it was grocery store scanners. Now it's single-serve coffee dispensers.

The lawsuit is in California. Again, from what I found on Daily Kos (where I originally posted that little blurb). A number of "Kossites" commented on the situation.

And as for Clinton... again, Daily Kos has been going on about about Clinton's talk about "Massive Retaliation" (a term of art in nuclear strategy) against Iran. These statements have all but gotten Iran up in arms. Bad enough the Shrub talks about attacking Iran. Now we have two of the three candidates for President stating they will use force over diplomacy with Iran.

Rob H.

Robert said...

(Sorry, tried to delete the wrong comment. I reposted it, but it's out of order now.)

Tony Fisk said...

Rob, it's pretty obvious who you'd vote for if it was Clinton v Obama. I suspect what the answer would be to Obama vs McCain.

So, what would your response be to Clinton vs McCain?

a) Clinton
b) McCain
c) Pass (or Nader)

If c), how would you feel if
i) McCain is elected
ii) Clinton is elected

Jester said...

Dr. Brin,

A slew of false accusations do not make true claims untrue.

What you're doing here, I am very sorry to say, is the same thing most Bush supporters do when confronted with the truth. You're doing the same thing they do when they dismiss criticism of No-Bid contracts by throwing up distractions like 9/11 conspiracy theories, and arguing against those instead.

Who laid the ground-work for outsourcing everything from laundry to mess-hall through no-bid service contracts, Dr. Brin? Who first used extraordinary rendition to countries known to practice torture?

I could go on and on, and have on your Blog before, and won't today, because I know your eyes are starting to glaze over and your fingers are creeping towards your ears. I understand that response developed over 16 long years as a reaction to a massive blitz of false and malicious "47 whitewater connected killings" stories, and massively overblown "travelgate" stories.

You're right that the Clintons ran the least politicized and most professional Civil Service since Ike left the White House. Absolutely true.

The expansion of the EITC and EIC was a great thing Clinton did. So was knowing how to do a dispassionate cost-benefit analysis and pull out of Somalia.

NAFTA stands. Tax benefits for off-shoring stand. Massive media consolidation stands. Bad tax policies leading to a churn and burn housing market stand.

8 figures worth of income from the Sheiks you often...ponder...being behind a possible manchurian scenario? That stands.

You can admit all that and still come to the honest conclusion that more Clinton is better than McCain, but it's important to understand why we don't all agree with you.

It's got nothing to do with whitewater bodybags or black helicopters or cigar storage locations - and very little to do with false FEC filings ammended four times in six years and bosnian sniper fire.

The DLC is the Democratic PNAC - corpratist, jingoist, and up to it's armpits in culture war. Every single DLC affiliated Senator voted for war with Iraq. No non-DLC Senator did.

Our party has suffered the Invasion of the Party Snatchers too, we just got the smarter aliens.

_________________________

On an unrelated note -

CM riders are total feminine hygiene products sometimes. I used to live in Santa Cruz, trust me. Running red lights is dangerous. Neither of those justify tackling someone off a bike in a situation that could have killed or hospitalized him.

Thanks to their actions in the 70's, when they filmed protests and then harrased and planted evidence on the people they identified from the films, the NYP is prohibited by NY State Law from filming political gatherings.

Regarding yet another missunderstanding of a Supreme Court decision -

In Hiibel, the SCOTUS ruled that if the police have grounds for a Terry stop (reasonable suspicion), they may require that a suspect "Identify Himself" - NOT that the suspect must produce ID. This is an important distinction.

Google: Hiibel Police Chief Magazine 2004

Complying with officers demands to maintain distance while filming them and keeping your mouth shut isn't even grounds for a Terry stop.

The cops had literally no right to lay hands on the girl in the first place.

That said, only the Sargeant behaved like a complete POS in this situation. None of the rest of those officers deserves more than a stern talking to, a couple rate very mild pats on the back.

Robert said...

Tony: If my choice is McCain vs. Clinton, I will either vote for a third-party candidate or vote None of the Above as a write-in. (Indeed, I think all ballots should have as the very first choice "None" so to eliminate the first-candidate bias that ballots inherently have been found to have. And so that people can register their disdain for the candidates available.)

David McCabe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David McCabe said...

That's right, registering your disdain is the height of democracy.

Tony Fisk said...

'destain' sounds a bit like an 'eggcorn' (fun tricks your subconscious plays with the nature of your typos!)

OK. having answered c), try answering the second question. How would you feel about the victor of a Clinton vs McCain contest, if you had acted disdainfully? (it's not a trick, just a technique to help you sort out your priorities)

David McCabe said...

Damnit Blogger, let me edit my typos!

I would like to register my disdain for your position more explicitly: Your private little act of righteous behavior is not helping our civilization. The blood of patriots did not give you your vote so that you could be pious and sniffly, despising the chance to help choose who will administrate your government. Yes, it's a pity that you can't choose your personal favorite out of all seven billion of us.

(Dear dear, do I sound like I've drunk any koolaid?)

Tony Fisk said...

David, I'm not inhaling them, but the Kool-aid fumes might clear a bit if you indicated who it was you were referring to as being 'pious and sniffly'.

Tea, anyone?

Robert said...

I'd be upset because the one viable candidate was removed through some means and thus would feel it is my democratic right to complain about whoever got in.

I have had a history of writing in my dead brother's name for President because I felt the alternatives were not worthwhile (and because, dead, my brother would still be a better President than the choices given). When I lived in Massachusetts, I also knew my vote wouldn't matter no matter who I wanted because the Democratic candidate would always win.

This time, if Obama is on the ticket, I'll vote for him. I've finally found a candidate I can believe in. And if that choice is taken from me... then why should I vote? Why should I be responsible for putting in the Greater of the Evils?

Rob H.

Matt DeBlass said...

Vote Cthulhu in '08, the candidate for those who are tired of choosing the lesser evil!

Seriously, my feeling is that if my preference (Obama) isn't an option, I still have the right/responsibility to do what I can by picking the best of the available options. Even if it is the "lesser evil" kind of decision.
Besides, I'm inclined to think that any one of the likely options will be an improvement over Curious George.

David McCabe said...

I never understood what was so evil about Cthulhu.

Tony, I was addressing Robert and his unwillingness to choose the lesser of two evils. (For there is a a lesser.)

Tony Fisk said...

Deciding on the lesser of two evils was the point of the second part of my question.

Robert, you sound as if you're worried that whoever you vote for out of Clinton and McCain will turn out to be the *greater* of two evils. Well, there's no guarantees there.

This is where one's judgment comes into play.

Travc said...

All this talk of not voting or casting a protest vote really gets me down. Come on, 'lesser of two evils' is how our voting system works... don't like it (I don't) then advocate for changing it.

I really should write up a game-theoretic proof, but I'm a bit too lazy and the conclusion is obvious. Plurality voting leads to two relatively stable parties. Two parties leads to two choices with any effect.

There are much better systems. Ranking voting systems like IRV are my favorite. If we really wanted to empower a 'moderate independent' party (along with making other 'third' parties actually viable), this would be the way to do it.

Unfortunately, the two-party system is self-preserving. It is also very difficult to have a more equitable voting system adopted 'from the ground up' in local areas first. The plurality system is like an ESS which is quite resistant to invasion. I guess a less geeky analogy is the 'winner take all' allocation of state electors to the Electoral College.

Anyway, anyone in the US who says that they will just sit out or cast a protest vote in an election if their favorite candidate isn't on the ballot is quite simply being irrational. It is of course a personal prerogative to be irrational, but you should at least admit it.

caveat: There are some (exceedingly rare at best in the US) cases where a mass protest vote or election boycott actually carries more power to produce positive change than voting for the lesser of two evils. This election is not such a case.

Robert said...

I know that Dr. Brin constantly talks about how the Clintons will restore the Professionals to a place of honor and power in a Clinton White House, but I must admit to some doubt on that front. Senator Clinton has been showing a blatant disregard for what these professionals say when it disagrees with her worldview. Indeed, we are currently moving to the tail end of one presidency where the Commander in Chief refuses to listen to dissenting views. Might not Hillary's egotism, revealed for all to witness with her "Gas Tax Vacation" despite the fact Democrats and Economists say "it's a bad idea," be a threat to your dream of a restoration of Professionalism, Dr. Brin?

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

Robert,

Have you learned nothing from our televized society? There are better ways to register your disdain for the new President Clinton.

Try this one: campaign like hell for her, vote for her, get invited to her swearing in. Then moon her at her inauguration. (the key clincher to this would be explaining to the press that you helped her get elected.).

Duty first, then mischief.

William_Shatner said...

On the DC Madam "suicide" issue:
Alex Jones interviews Deborah Palfrey; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzvrgQ5hOM4. No matter what you might think of Alex's take on things -- it's pretty clear that she said she has no interest in suicide, she wants to fight the people who are out to destroy her, and that she suspects she will be killed and it will be made to look like a suicide. I'd read from numerous bloggers who claimed to have dealt with coroners, that there are a lot of less than upright characters who will fudge a report if that is the wish of someone with money or power -- so that might add a wrinkle to what you can believe from "official" reports. Dick Cheney's name was rumored to be on her list and she was killed one week before the gag order on that list was due to expire.

William_Shatner said...

>> I have to say that I'm of two minds on the Police & Bikers issue here. I think that if you look at it, police brutality is an age-old problem. What causes it? Their are good cops and bad -- and especially when you have more people in it for the power. But all people are human, and frustration, low pay, and a lack of control can push most people to violence. Are police being put in an impossible situation? Is it paperwork, and less social interaction? How is the life of an officer different in an area where there is a lot of police abuse and one where there is little?

Maybe, there is also a bit of propagandizing of the police going on. If you wanted to create a police state. You would work to disenfranchise the police from the public. Maybe give them face masks and tasers and tell them citizens are out to get them. Create a sense of "other" and "us and them" in training. Or make something illegal that everyone does. The war on drugs is a great excuse to escalate more violence with dealers and no-knock laws that are killing all sorts of innocent bystanders. Of course, if the drug dealers have machine guns, you don't want to tip them off,... but how did we get to this place? When marijuana was legal, nobody was getting shot.

In Atlanta, we had an incident where the police arrested someone they categorically stated was the "mastermind of the Anonymous group" that was working to bring down the Scientologist organization. Whatever you may think about breaking the law to do what a person thinks is a greater good... it was that there was little proof of any connection to the crimes. The charges were secret. And all the police wore black, with black face masks. It looked like they were extras in a movie about a police state. There are some folks in this world who would do whatever you told them if you gave them a club and a cool uniform -- and these are people who should never be given a security job.

>> On the issue of paperwork,.. I just went to my son's pre-K teacher interview. He is in a little speech therapy (perhaps because of the bi-lingual family he is in). The amount of documentation and paperwork -- perhaps to assure that ONE person in a million isn't abusing the system, meant that this language professional spent more time documenting the appropriateness of her work than actually working with kids. Is this is what is happening to all of us? I think if I were in such a situation, I'd feel more and more helpless, uninspired, and angry. OK -- you can probably tell I hate paperwork.

Travc said...

An observation on the Clinton campaign:

Her campaign heavily targets 'low information voters' and undecideds. As you might surmise, the vast majority of undecided voters are either not paying any attention at all (pretty hard to do), getting highly skewed non-information which drowns out real information, or mentally damaged in some way.

She is being quite successful targeting such voters. The vast majority of 'late deciders' have gone her way.

I (and I suspect you) are far from the primary target audience of her campaign at this point.

Of course, there are two different approaches for campaigning to undecideds:

The long game involves actually informing and motivating people such that they move out of the 'low information' category. I like this one, but it takes time and is most effective over the course of several elections. The DNC has been working this angle for a while under Dean. Obama is too, with the grassroots stuff and the recently announced 50 state GOTV effort.

The other angle, which Clinton's campaign and the GOP employ is to keep low information voters making decisions based on, well low/mis information. Pander and propagandize to enhance their misperceptions and get them on 'your side'. I'm not going to belabor the point with examples, since they are too well known at this point (the GOP playbook). Anyway, IMO this is destructive to democracy in the long term and a formula for bad governance whenever such a campaign wins.

No, I'm not calling Clinton a Republican... just as I don't call Republicans fascists. They do use the same tactics though.

Doug S. said...

My mom is going to vote for Nader if Hillary isn't the nominee. :(

Jester said...

Doug,

Why don't you google up some of what Nader has had to say about the Clintons, and Hillary in particular, and print it out for her?

Barring a bullet, it's not "if", it's "when".