Friday, April 18, 2014

The current state of the internet

Beyond Network Feudalism | John Hanacek

Our civilization has a new reality. Computers meshed together by digital
networks have transcended the system that built them becoming a new
reality, a place where duplicating and moving information has near zero
marginal cost. This alone has changed the nature of the world; we have a
virtual playground where the reality of scarcity we have known and
endured is largely gone.  The Internet that appears distributed is fundamentally centralized.
Right now there are key players that sit atop the largest networks
reaping all the financial rewards.

Data is emerging as the new "oil," the new resource, the ultimate
distillation of all civilization into an exponential pool of zeros and
ones. Already the global economy is built from networks and powered by
data. Economic value on Earth is steadily being digitized; "currency"
was long ago. As we envelop the world in a unified Internet framework we
are facing a dark truth: in a world of free-flowing data, the biggest
computer wins.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

U.S. a Ticking Time Bomb of Nuclear Weapons, Toxic Dumps, and Pipelines

How the World's Only Superpower Is Vulnerable to Catastrophe | Alternet

the greatest dangers for the United States do not lurk in terrorist
cells in the mountains surrounding Kandahar that are planning on
assaults on American targets. Rather, our vulnerabilities are homegrown.
The United States plays host to thousands of nuclear weapons, toxic
chemical dumps, radioactive waste storage facilities, complex pipelines
and refineries, offshore oil rigs and many other potentially dangerous
facilities that require constant maintenance and highly trained and
motivated experts to keep them running safely.

The United States currently lacks safety protocols and effective
inspection regimes for the dangerous materials it has amassed over the
last 60 years. We don’t have enough inspectors and regulators to engage
in the work of assessing the safety and security of ports, bridges,
pipelines, power plants and railways. The rapid decline in the
financial, educational and institutional infrastructure of the United
States represents the greatest threat to the safety of Americans today.  And it’s getting worse.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

IPCC climate change report: averting catastrophe affordable

IPCC climate change report: averting catastrophe affordable | The Guardian

Landmark UN analysis concludes global roll-out of clean energy would shave only a tiny fraction off economic growth.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Role of Logging in the Oso Landslide

Landslide in Oso, Washington -- Don't Blame Nature and Acts of God for Reckless Logging | Ellen Moyer, Ph.D.

The plateau above the hillside that gave way has been logged for almost a century, and the hillside has a history of landslides dating back more than 60 years. For more than 25 years,
as the slope became more unstable, scientists challenged the timber
cutting and warned of possible calamity. Yet the state continued to
allow logging on the plateau.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How Banks Assumed Control of the U.S. Economy

The Secret History of How Banks Assumed Control of the U.S. Economy | Alternet

Nomi Prins, author of the new book, 'All the Presidents' Bankers' shares
her discoveries about the power of finance on the American economy. 

Global Rankings Study Shows Current State of U.S.

Global Rankings Study Depicts an America in Warp Speed Decline | Alternet

April 8, 2014
 |   If America needed a reminder that it is fast becoming a second-rate
nation, and that every economic policy of the Republican Party is
wrongheaded, it got one this week with the release of the Social Progress Index (SPI). While the U.S. enjoys the second highest per capita GDP of $45,336, it
ranks in an underperforming 16th place overall. It gets worse. The U.S.
ranks 70th in health, 69th in ecosystem sustainability, 39th in basic
education, 34th in access to water and sanitation and 31st in personal
safety....Not a single U.S. city is included in the world’s top 10 most livable cities. ... the U.S. remains in first place for the number of incarcerated citizens
per capita, adult onset diabetes and for believing in angels.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The High-Tech Wall Street Rip-Off Setting the Media on Fire

The High-Tech Wall Street Rip-Off Setting the Media on Fire | Alternet

 A brand-new book by Michael Lewis, author of Liar’s Poker and Moneyball, has set the media on fire. In Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, Lewis argues that not only do the liars on Wall Street play poker, but the poker game itself is completely rigged.  Wall Street firms engage in a widespread practice known as high-frequency trading
(HFT).  Lewis' 60 Minutes interview, features young Brad Katsuyama, the Canadian trader who helped suss out the problem.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Is the American Middle Class Losing Out to China and India?

Is the American Middle Class Losing Out to China and India? -

Branko Milanovic,
a visiting professor at CUNY who once served as a senior economist at
the World Bank, has tracked worldwide changes in income growth from 1998
to 2008.  Milanovic calculates
that the middle class in China and India experienced 60 to 70 percent
income growth from 1998 to 2008, while growth stalled for the middle and
working classes in the United States.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Power of Free Universal Higher Education

The Moral Power of Free Universal Higher Education | Alternet

How can we deny a higher education to any young person in this country just because she or he can't afford it?  The numbers show that barriers to higher education are an economic
burden for both students and society. They also show that the solution
-- free higher education for all those who would benefit from it -- is a
practical goal.

Monday, March 3, 2014

7 Numbers that Show How Most Americans Were Robbed of Their Retirement

7 Numbers that Show How Most Americans Were Robbed of a Comfortable Retirement

The dream of a comfortable retirement is dying for many Americans.
It's being extracted as a form of tribute to the very rich, a
redistribution of our nation's wealth, a "tax" imposed on the middle and
lower classes and paid for with their retirement savings. 

How America's Great University System Is Getting Destroyed

Chomsky: How America's Great University System Is Getting Destroyed

According to Noam Chomsky, faculty are increasingly hired on the Wal-Mart model as temps.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

How Every Part of American Life Became a Police Matter

How Every Part of American Life Became a Police Matter | Mother Jones

American over-policing involves far more than the widely reported
up-armoring of your local precinct. It's also the way police power has
entered the DNA of social policy, turning just about every sphere of
American life into a police matter.

Friday, February 28, 2014

25 Things to know about being black in the U.S.

25 Things Everyone Needs to Know About the Lives of Black People in America | Alternet

The texture of Black America's lived experiences is complex, and
therefore reflects a story that cannot be told by quantitative data
alone. However, the numbers help us to situate our discussions. 

A WayTo Solve America’s Curriculum Problem?

Ideas To Solve America’s Curriculum Problem

Wouldn’t it make far more sense if schools got their general
education expectations out of the way in an hour or so, then identified
and grouped the math whizzes, the mechanically inclined, the artists,
the writers, those involved in projects, and so on, assigned teachers to
the groups, and let them go as far as they can go as fast as they can

Education is long overdue for what business types sometimes
call “disruptive innovation," but the bureaucratic depth and complexity
of systems of public education, and simplistic policies set by amateurs
in state legislatures and Congress, block real innovation. My suggested
status quo-accommodating tweak is an easy sell to a great many
experienced educators, but it isn’t being tried because present
conceptions of “reform” are so narrow and rigid, and failure to fall in
line is so certain to trigger a punitive response.