Saturday, February 28, 2009

the growing climate change lobby

The above is a sobering chart for sobering times. The Center for Public Integrity notes the following:
A Center for Public Integrity analysis of Senate lobbying disclosure forms shows that more than 770 companies and interest groups hired an estimated 2,340 lobbyists to influence federal policy on climate change in the past year, as the issue gathered momentum and came to a vote on Capitol Hill. That’s an increase of more than 300 percent in the number of lobbyists on climate change in just five years, and means that Washington can now boast more than four climate lobbyists for every member of Congress.
Continue reading here to see what forces the Administration will be dealing with in the coming years.

via: phronesisaical

Saturday, February 21, 2009

box of clouds

This is very cool.
Digital artist Kim Laughton made this cloud viewer out of an old keychain photo viewer. The backlight of the LCD screen was removed so you have to hold the box up to the light to see the clouds drifting by inside.
Go here for more cloud cycles.

via: Make

Roubini speaks

so we should listen... I really wish the Administration was listening more to Nouriel Roubini than Geithner and Summers. I really really do. He's been mocked as a doomsdayer for years by many editorial boards but he's been right all along. Here's the latest assessment as seen at Forbes magazine - of all places.

It is now clear that this is the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and the worst economic crisis in the last 60 years. While we are already in a severe and protracted U-shaped recession (the deluded hope of a short and shallow V-shaped contraction has evaporated), there is now a rising risk that this crisis will turn into an uglier, multiyear, L-shaped, Japanese-style stag-deflation (a deadly combination of stagnation, recession and deflation).

With its aggressive monetary easing and large fiscal stimulus putting it ahead, the U.S. has done more [than the EuroZone]. Except for two elements, both key to avoiding a near-depression, which are still missing: a cleanup of the banking system that may require a proper triage between solvent and insolvent banks and the nationalization of many banks, even some of the largest ones; and a more aggressive, across-the-board reduction of the unsustainable debt burden of millions of insolvent households (i.e., a principal reduction of the face value of the mortgages, not just mortgage payments relief). [...]

This severe economic and financial crisis is now also leading to a severe backlash against financial globalization, free trade and the free-market economic model.

To paraphrase Churchill, capitalist market economies open to trade and financial flows may be the worst economic regime--apart from the alternatives. However, while this crisis does not imply the end of market-economy capitalism, it has shown the failure of a particular model of capitalism. Namely, the laissez-faire, unregulated (or aggressively deregulated), Wild West model of free market capitalism with lack of prudential regulation, supervision of financial markets and proper provision of public goods by governments.

There is the failure of ideas--such as the "efficient market hypothesis," which deluded its believers about the absence of market failures such as asset bubbles; the "rational expectations" paradigm that clashes with the insights of behavioral economics and finance; and the "self-regulation of markets and institutions" that clashes with the classical agency problems in corporate governance--that are themselves exacerbated in financial companies by the greater degree of asymmetric information. For example, how can a chief executive or a board monitor the risk taking of thousands of separate profit and loss accounts? Then there are the distortions of compensation paid to bankers and traders.

This crisis also shows the failure of ideas such as the one that securitization will reduce systemic risk rather than actually increase it. That risk can be properly priced when the opacity and lack of transparency of financial firms and new instruments leads to unpriceable uncertainty rather than priceable risk.

It is clear that the Anglo-Saxon model of supervision and regulation of the financial system has failed. It relied on several factors: self-regulation that, in effect, meant no regulation; market discipline that does not exist when there is euphoria and irrational exuberance; and internal risk-management models that fail because, as a former chief executive of Citigroup put it, when the music is playing, you've got to stand up and dance.

Furthermore, the self-regulation approach created rating agencies that had massive conflicts of interest and a supervisory system dependent on principles rather than rules. In effect, this light-touch regulation became regulation of the softest touch.

Thus, all the pillars of the 2004 Basel II banking accord have already failed even before being implemented. Since the pendulum had swung too much in the direction of self-regulation and the principles-based approach, we now need more binding rules on liquidity, capital, leverage, transparency, compensation and so on.

But the design of the new system should be robust enough to counter three types of problems with rules. A tendency toward "regulatory arbitrage" should be kept in mind, as bankers can find creative ways to bypass rules faster than regulators can improve them. Then there is "jurisdictional arbitrage," as financial activity may move to more lax jurisdictions. And, finally, "regulatory capture," as regulators and supervisors are often captured--via revolving doors and other mechanisms--by the financial industry. So the new rules will have to be incentive-compatible, i.e., robust enough to overcome these regulatory failures. [emphasis added]

via Forbes/Obsidian Wings

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

dry county

An excellent look at the growing drought problem across continents from Tom Engelhardt.

If, indeed, this is "the big one," and does result in a "lost decade" or more, here's what I wonder: Could the sort of "recovery" that everyone assumes lies just over a recessive or depressive horizon not be there? What if our lost decade lasts long enough to meet an environmental crisis involving extreme weather -- drought and flood, hurricanes, typhoons, and firestorms of unprecedented magnitude -- possibly in some of the breadbasket regions of the planet? What will happen if the rising fuel prices likely to come with the beginning of any economic "recovery" were to meet the soaring food prices of environmental disaster? What kind of human tsunami might that result in?

Once we start connecting some of today's drought dots, wouldn't it make sense to try to connect a few of the prospective dots as well? After all, if you begin to imagine what the worst might look like, you can also begin to think about what might be done to mitigate it. Isn't that more sensible than looking the other way?

If the kinds of hits regional agriculture is now taking from record-setting drought became the future norm, wouldn't we then be bereft of our most reassuring formulations in bad times? For example, the president spoke at that press conference of our present moment as "the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression." On an extreme planet, no such comforting "since the..." would be available, nor would there be any historical road map for what was coming at us, not if we had already run out of history.

Maybe the world we knew but scarce months ago is already, in some sense, long gone. What if, after a lost decade, we were to find ourselves living on another planet?


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Black Cab Sessions

One Song. One Take. One Cab.

This is one of those things where you wonder - "where have I been for the last year"? The Black Cab Sessions is a fantastic web series for music fans. You'll love it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Radiohead [HD] because I luv you

Glastonbury 2003. That's right the whole concert...

There is also Radiohead in Japan from the recent tour that was a TV broadcast and is incredible, but it was taken down about an hour ago. You will still see clips though, start with that Radiohead at Saitama on the right that is now defunct, and then open the individual songs

hat tip: Geoff

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

culture purge

This is a bit of a link dump and cross post today regarding MAN's continued coverage of Brandeis and the cudgel being leveled at the arts in this monstrous stimulus plan and state arts funding.

Tyler Green interviews Rose Board Chair Jonathan Lee:
MAN: Last week you said that you wanted to meet with the Brandeis board. Has that happened, will that happen?

Jonathan Lee:
I sent the president of the university a letter [Monday] asking to meet with him, with his attorney, and any members of the Brandeis University board that he'd like to have at the meeting. I'd come with a small group of the Rose overseers. I doubt that will happen. My initial outreaches to the board itself have not borne any fruit. My expectation is that won't happen, but I'm making every good-faith effort to have such a meeting.
The LA Times on a need for a cultural jobs bill.

Over at Americans for the Arts we have a replay of the Jesse Helms effect. If you're an artist, most members of Congress don't even conceive of you as a citizen. Check the link and email or call your representatives. Here is the latest bipartisan move.
  • Senate Cuts Arts From Economic Stimulus Bill
    02-09-2009: On Friday, February 6, the U.S. Senate, during their consideration of the economic recovery bill, approved an egregious amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) by a wide vote margin of 73–24 that stated, “None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, art center, and highway beautification project.”

    If the Coburn amendment language is included in the final conference version of this legislation, many arts groups will be prevented from receiving economic recovery funds from any portion of this specific stimulus bill. Write your Senators today and let them know that this vote detrimentally impacts nonprofit arts organizations and the jobs they support in your state.

Monday, February 09, 2009


Check out these Lego analogy/sculptures by
Christoph Niemann. Love that Greenpoint makes the cut.

via information aesthetics

Friday, February 06, 2009

Artist Lecture Series/Bidonville Cafe Feb.8

The hardest working lecture series in Brooklyn is on again this weekend.

Sunday, Feb. 8 @ 7:00 pm
Bidonville Cafe in lovely Fort Greene

Willoughby Ave. (b/w Clermont & Adelphi)
Bklyn, NY 11205
G or C train to Clinton/ Washington and march north
This month's artists:

Diana Kingsley

In my photographs I'm drawn to situations where control is confounded by dysfunction and formal elegance is poised precariously on the verge of the absurd. Subjects are threatened by slight indignities, subtle flaws, or a sense of impending doom: cherished possessions are lost, composure is fleeting, first prize remains elusive, while honorable mentions abound. Although the subject matter varies, a coherent sensibility emerges wherein human frailty and vulnerability are reflected in the most disparate of everyday things. I'm looking for the blunt and unadorned ambiance of a one-act comedy, where psychological tension and pratfalls set a mood rather than force any particular narrative

Giovanni Garcia-Fenech

I am interested in painting that refers back to the constraints of the medium. My visual language is fairly restricted - the work is entirely improvisational, the colors are limited to black and white and the proportions of my supports are mostly square. It is within this purity that I find unlimited possibilities. In my talk, I will discuss my sources of inspiration, from the tiger rugs of Tibet to the trance-inducing music of Terry Riley. Then again, I might panic and just make self-deprecating jokes.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

new work

I've been meaning to post this one up. Here is the latest in my loosely titled 'whitenoise' group.

For the most part I'm pleased. The hardest part about these small works is the lower quarter which is only about three inches in height. Very difficult to devise a world in there but I think I'm getting better at it. Just glad to get another one under my belt. One more coming soon if I can get the linen to behave. The precip this winter has been super irritating to deal with.

twitter bowl

The above map may say more about America than any electoral map could hope for - ouch.

In their coverage of last Sunday's Superbowl, the New York Times has created a map showing
live twitter chatter during the game. The map visualizes the frequency and location of commonly used words in Super Bowl related 'tweets' between viewers/users. I will say that the tab showing the chronology of catch phrases is very cool. Expect to see much more data visualization like t his in the coming year. The inanity has only just begun.

hat tip: Neil Perkin

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

desperately seeking Winkleman

Ed Winkleman is offering an excellent bullet point list for artists today. Really just a consolidation of previous threads on his blog, but very nice to have everything neatly accessible. Do read.

Advice for Artists Seeking Gallery Representation

ACS Panel: Bloggers as America's Watchdogs

I received the below via a Facebook friend and looks quite good. If you live near Philly it might be well worth attending. You can RSVP with the ACS here.

Here's gist.

Wednesday Feb. 4, 5:30PM -7PM
University of Penn. Law School
3400 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA

Bloggers as America's Watchdog:
New Administration, New Roles

The blogosphere began during the early months of the Bush Administration with opposition and criticism being the dominant modes for online progressives. With a new administration in the White House, how will the role of the netroots change? How do leaders of online opinion see their responsibilities with respect to the new President?


John Aravosis
Editor, AMERICAblog

Christy Hardin Smith
Blogger, Firedoglake

Baratunde Thurston
Co-Founder, Jack & Jill Politics and
Blogger, The Huffington Post

Daniel Urevick-Ackelsberg
Founder, Young Philly Politics

Moderator: Adam Bonin, chairman of the Board of Directors, Netroots Nation

more Brandeis updates

Tyler Green did the rounds yesterday on all the continuing fallout and opinion regarding the Brandeis situation. Here's the cross post block of activity:
  • Today Roberta Smith has a strong piece condemning Brandeis' attempted seizure. I wish it had run last week (umpteen other outlets have been intelligently opining on this for almost a week now), but I still dig it today;
  • Jeff Weinstein, a Brandeis alum and ex- of the Village Voice, the Philly Inky and Bloomberg, tells a fantastic, personal story about Brandeis and the Rose;
  • The NYT editorial page lashes Brandeis and its president;
  • In case you missed it: Harvard's Tom Lentz has spoken out;
  • So has Rose Art Museum director Michael Rush -- and on the Rose's own website. Well played!;
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education's Laurie Fendrich is posting regularly. Instead of linking to each post I'll simply suggest that you go read everything she's writing; and
  • A nice reminder that the Rose is a functioning, admired art museum: Greg Cook reviews the Rose's current Hans Hofmann show.