MoonBeam FTW!

2012 March 2
by Dave

Gotta love Jerry Brown. Here is a transcript of him taking apart a Washington Times reporter. Best Governor ever!

I know, I know Arnold Reagan was the best.

Printing The Future

2012 February 1
by Dave

I’ve been having lots of conversations with people lately about the Maker movement and what is so important about it. Arduino, Netduino, 3D printing etc. Through the course of these conversations I’ve honed in on what I think is the core of why the current do-it-yourself movement that has flowered in the last three years matters.

Rapid prototyping. A single individual is now able to come up with an idea for a thing and make it. Whatever it is. Electronics, mechanics, whatever. This is what drove the software development boom that appeared to be an internet boom that lasted from 95 to 05. Now, instead of making software, people who are willing to put in a bit of work to learn something are able to make stuff.

Any way, my main point was linking you to an awesome series of articles over at MAKE that follow a couple of dudes with a car full of 3D printers and their attempt to create a new kind of business. Their second installment gets at my feelings about this stuff much more clearly than I had been able to previously.


Bank Robbing

2011 December 6
by Dave

Security consulting has always seemed like an interesting job to me. However I have come to suspect that the daily routine of life as a pen tester contains a lot of drudgery. Moran has convinced me otherwise.

I love Bruce Sterling

2011 December 4
by Dave

If you have half an hour you might enjoy watching this keynote at an Art + Environment conference. You should at least watch a couple of minutes to decide if you want to watch the rest. It’s very tasty.

ECB Does Something! World Saved.

2011 November 30
by Dave

Markets are up big today on news of coordinated liquidity facilities for European banks provided by the FED and the ECB(European Central Bank), along with Japan, the UK, Canada and Switzerland. This step does little to to avert the looming Euro zone sovereign debt catastrophe that markets are scared of. However, it does show that the ECB is willing to do something which has been much in doubt.

This willingness to do something is what has everyone chuffed because ECB action is widely seen as the only viable and effective solution to Euro sovereign troubles and so far the ECB has been earnestly telling everyone that they weren’t going to do anything. Investors came to believe in these statements strongly enough to push MF Global off of a cliff for betting that the ECB would act.

Here’s to hoping that this is indeed a subtle sign that the ECB won’t blow up the world and not another short term muddle of little consequence.

GOP Clown Show

2011 November 10
by Dave

Really? Will they please finish this season of the reality show “Who Wants To Be A Nominee”  so the actual primary candidates can be announced and start to campaign. Failing that could we at least kick one contestant off the show at the end of each episode?

The Twins

2011 November 1
by Dave

Occupy Wall Street and The Tea Party are both anti-establishment wings within their respective political parties.

They are both anti-government as it is.

They both would like a drastic realignment of the form, fit and function of government.

The parties that they reside within are establishment machines that are trying to assimilate and co-opt the anti-establishment energy.

Anti-establishment posturing by establishment figures invariably rings hollow.

A large portion of the American populace wants to reinvent the role of government. However we are not having that discussion. What we are getting is vilification of the establishment figures on the opposite side of the political spectrum in order to persuade the anti-establishment crowd to hang with their co-political establishment leadership.

I think that a discourse needs to be embarked upon regarding what we as a nation want from our government. This discussion needs to happen without rancor and recognize that different people have differing legitimate interests. In my opinion a good starting place for this is to come up with a new metaphor for government. A new metaphor allows a new nomenclature to develop lacking existing value judgments and carrying explicit meaning that does not vary between different parties.

Two metaphors that I like are government as a systems integrator and government as a venture capitalist. Both allow a crucial divorce of the debate over the structure of government from the debate over the policy aims of government. Quite often Tea Partiers and Los Occupados conflate the two to frustrating ends. What many rank and file of both groups end up clamoring for, does not address what upsets them.

The further I get into this thing the more I am convinced of the futility of trying to bend it. So here is what I want in my fairy tale political discourse land.

And then I start typing this list and even it falls apart.

Lets start over. The government has outlived it’s popular mandate. The Tea Party slogan “Government of the People, by the People, for the People” is strongly echoed by the Occupy Wall Street slogan “We are the ninety nine percent”. Much about our current system and implementation of government feels either unfair, unjust or both. The social contract end of things is getting thin.

In this age of transparency a calculation of the value, cost, need co-ordinates of every government activity needs to be derived and published. From building roads to policing the streets, to feeding the poor. Government should be able to show that the net good that it generates is larger than the net cost and that every single individual gets in return far more than they put in.

Fairness is all people want. Good fortune will always have a place in America but cheating can’t long be openly tolerated.

Hopefully my rambling will be tolerated though because my political and economic thoughts these days are too fractured to allow me to roll a prettily formed piece of editorial thought out there. So enjoy the stream of consciousness instead.

Listing Starboard

2011 October 5
by Dave

David Frum has a great list of everything wrong with the current Republican consensus on the economy in a piece on why he likes Romney best.

On the most urgent economic issue of the day – recovery from the Great Recession – the Republican consensus is seriously wrong.

It is wrong in its call for monetary tightening.

It is wrong to demand immediate debt reduction rather than wait until after the economy recovers.

It is wrong to deny that “we have a revenue problem.”

It is wrong in worrying too much about (non-existent) inflation and disregarding the (very real) threat of a second slump into recession and deflation.

It is wrong to blame government regulation and (as yet unimposed) tax increases for the severity of the recession.

It is wrong to oppose job-creating infrastructure programs.

It is wrong to hesitate to provide unemployment insurance, food stamps, and other forms of income maintenance to the unemployed.

It is wrong to fetishize the exchange value of the dollar against other currencies.

It is wrong to believe that cuts in marginal tax rates will suffice to generate job growth in today’s circumstance.

It is wrong to blame minor and marginal government policies like the Community Reinvestment Act for the financial crisis while ignoring the much more important role of government inaction to police overall levels of leverage within the financial system.

It is wrong to dismiss the Euro crisis as something remote from American concerns.

It is wrong to resist US cooperation with European authorities in organizing a work-out of the debt problems of the Eurozone countries.

It is wrong above all in its dangerous combination of apocalyptic pessimism about the long-term future of the country with aloof indifference to unemployment.

I think that about covers it. And I think that it is a fairly obvious list. I am truly unable to come up with an even slightly charitable excuse for the GOP’s embrace of policies that will cause so much pain and destruction. I’m pretty much at a loss for anything plausible beyond stupid, evil or both.

Go team.

It’s okay with me if you don’t have that much to say.

2011 October 1
by Dave

We’re going to start this one out by sending you over to youtube in another tab to play “Wave of Mutilation” by the pixies.

As I’ve mentioned before, The Economist always has awesome pictures. The cover this week does not disappoint. It is a black hole with the words “Be Afraid” in the middle. This cover image reminds me of the one of a guy stepping off a cliff that was run shortly after the Lehman collapse in ’08, before it was completely clear how screwed we all were.

So I think that the editorial statement here is, “bend over again”.

In other news Amazon fired a big salvo in the Apple/Google/Amazon/Microsoft war this week with the new Kindle line up announcement. They are bringing it with a $79 e-ink kindle and a $199 color tablet. This matters because Amazon has proven that it is good at selling shopping carts for digital content.

“Why do I care about e-books” you say. You care because every time someone buys a digitally distributed product that has no incremental production cost the economy grows in a distinctly non-zero sum manner. Monetizing content is the future of economic growth. Driving the distribution costs of content to nothing enables previously marginalized populations that had no mechanism for selling anything to people with money to productively engage with society and put food on the table.

Cutting arts education funding is really bad because that is one of the first groups that can move out of poverty in any population. It seems to me that this is now more true than ever.

So Anyway, I hope Amazon “wins”, or at least succeeds, because they are the most transparent schleppers of content right now.

And in case you are wondering, Apple did do one of the greatest public services of the last decade by getting people to buy music again. Now we just need to keep creating new forms of content for people to purchase.


2011 September 12
by Dave

An insider’s view from one of those planes that was escorted by fighters and had brown people dragged off of it because they went pee. Way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of September 11th by reminding us all that the bad guys won.

That is your real gigantic expansion of the scope, power, and payroll of the federal government that the Tea Partiers are so upset about. But they are mostly interested in saving government money by letting the uninsured die. Go watch that awesome video from the Republic presidential primary debate tonight where the audience yells “Yeah!” to Wolf Blitzer’s question if someone who chooses not to pay for insurance should be allowed to die.

I’m interested in what the response would be to the question of what should be done with some one who couldn’t pay for insurance rather than someone who chose not to. I’ve got a guess that the response would be the same.

At least there is a consistent theme. Screw the poors, screw the browns and double screw the poor browns. It makes me kind of yearn for compassionate conservatism. Now we are stuck with the passionate kind.