Archive for September 2008

14%

Of all the interesting (and troubling) things that have come to light as a result of the recent financial crisis, one of the most interesting — to me at least — came tonight: Chuck Todd appeared on NBC Nightly News with some data he ran on today’s bailout vote. It turns out most of those who voted “yes” to the bailout aren’t involved in close re-election campaigns (or haven’t been in the past) and most that voted “no” are (or have been).

So essentially, representatives that are scared about their re-election prospects voted no and representatives that aren’t voted yes. No numerical breakdowns were given, but that was the overview.

This is troubling on a number of fronts:

  1. It shows that our politicians are reacting to a bona fide crisis not on the merits of the crisis but rather on the circumstances of their re-election. This happens a lot, of course, but during a potentially devastating crisis, it’s troubling.
  2. It shows that what a lot of people think is the “smart” thing to do (passing the bailout), is not the “popular” thing to do. If you believe that your representative should do what you want them to do, the numbers say this bill should not pass (over 50% of Americans think it’s bad). If, however, you think that representatives should do what *they* think is best for you, it should probably pass (most representatives seem to think it’s needed, regardless of how they voted today).
  3. It shows that politics have absolutely become part of a situation that needs to be solved jointly by both parties.
  4. It shows that many members of Congress as well as many Americans don’t actually understand what this plan is designed to prevent and who it benefits. It may not be a perfect plan, but it’s not designed to “bail out Wall Street fat cats”. It may not punish Wall Street CEOs like many people would prefer it to, but if you want to do that, do it with a lawsuit.

I can only hope that the failure of the bill eventually just causes us to pass a better bill later this week, but you have to wonder a bit when George W. Bush, Barack Obama, John McCain, and the controlling party in the House all agree on something and Congress still won’t pass it. It’s no wonder why only 14% of Americans approve of the job they are doing.

(Side note: That Gallup site is a pretty spectacular destination for information. Great graphs and polls, updated daily.)

A Debate Under Duress

I really hope the first presidential debate occurs as planned Friday night.

Debates, theoretically, are rare opportunities to hear from candidates when their words are unscripted. In reality, however, candidates often prepare for weeks ahead of time, including last-minute intense cram sessions like the ones you remember from your college days.

What I love about the prospect of a debate Friday night is that both candidates have been severely preoccupied with the financial bailout fiasco all week and are likely much less prepared than they would otherwise be. I think seeing Barack Obama and John McCain debate each other without all of the usual coaching and grooming that goes on before debates will be an extraordinarily better view into how much each of them really knows about the financial crisis.

I want to see what each candidate will say in the middle of a storm, not after it. Debate on…

Side note: If you haven’t read the New York Times article linked to above yet, give it a read. It’s some pretty dramatic stuff, with Henry Paulson actually getting down on one knee in front of Nancy Pelosi.

"If money isn’t loosened up, this sucker could go down."

@shaneomack: Maybe Kirk Cameron shouldn’t kill people in movies either to show how he feels about the sanctity of life.
Kirk Cameron "honors" his marriage by refusing to kiss women while "acting". Dork! http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26851749/
Is anybody out there a female undecided voter in Philadelphia? If so, I can get you on the Today Show. Let me know…
Does the fact that I don’t even care to read up on a single TechCrunch 50 company make me old and crotchety?

EditGrid: Really Useful Web-Based Spreadsheets

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@bobsawyer, @JeremyCurry, @jcasabona: True, but it’s nice that both sides are now on record as associating with crazy people.
Wow. Palin’s church is promoting a conference to “pray away the gay”. Wow wow wow. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26567170/
Shared
Humanity's deep future:

A group of researchers at the Future of Humanity Institute talk about where our race may be going and how artificial intelligence could save or kill us all.

Steve Jobs speaks about the future at the International Design Conference in 1983:

31 years later, it’s safe to say this is one of the most prescient speeches about technology ever delivered. Jobs covers wireless networking, tablets, Google StreetView, Siri, and the App Store (among other things) many years before their proliferation. A fantastic listen.

How to travel around the world for a year:

Great advice for when you finally find the time.

LiveSurface:

A fantastic app for prototyping your design work onto real world objects like billboards, book covers, and coffee cups. This seems like just as great of a tool for people learning design as it does for experts.

50 problems in 50 days:

One man’s attempt to solve 50 problems in 50 days using only great design. Some good startup ideas in here…

How to Do Philosophy:

If you’ve ever suspected that most classical philosophy is a colossal waste of time, Paul Graham tells you why you’re probably right.

TIME: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us:

Stephen Brill follows the money to uncover the pinnacle of corruption that is the U.S. Health Care system. A must-read article if there ever was one.

DIY Dot Org:

A beautifully designed site full of fun and challenging DIY projects. I could spend months on here.

The Steve Jobs Video Archive:

A collection of over 250 Steve Jobs videos in biographical order

Self-portraits from an artist under the influence of 48 different psychoactive drug combos.

Water Wigs are pretty amazing.

David Pogue proposes to his girlfriend by creating a fake movie trailer about them and then getting a theater to play it before a real movie. Beautiful and totally awesome.

Jonah Peretti's letter to BuzzFeed’s employees:

If you’re wondering what a excellent blueprint for a modern media company looks like, look no further than Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti’s latest email to his employees. In it, Peretti explains a lot of his company’s virtues, the most important being a relentless focus on always providing what’s best for the user. Vox Media (operators of The Verge) is the only other company I can think of which approaches this level of reform and execution.

The Covers Project:

I love this so much: a cross-referenceable database of cover songs, searchable by song or artist. Slowed down, acoustic covers — no matter the song — are so enjoyable to me that I wish it was a requirement to play one at every show. If you like them as much as I do, make sure to check out M. Ward’s Let’s Dance or Sun Kil Moon’s entire album of Modest Mouse covers.

“More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary. I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.”
- Tim Kreider’s denunciation of the cult of busyness is excellent. (via jimray)