Maps showing economic downslump levels vs. economic stimulus levels by county. Looks like Florida made out pretty good.
Property owners around the crash site of United Flight 93 are soured that, despite their willingness to work out a deal or even donate it over the last 8 years, the government is going to use eminent domain to take their land for a memorial.
Vaclav Havel in the New York Times: The United Nations Human Rights Council is a farce, and membership is based on political maneuvering, oblivious to people suffering under tyrannical oppression.
G20 protests in London. It’s interesting how three groups are on near-equal footing in these image — the protesters, the police, and the photographers. Not only do the scenes have a quality about them of being staged for the photos, but it’s almost like all parties got together with the sole purpose of creating a previously agreed-upon set of images. I realize that sounds cynical, and that the protesters are extremely passionate and the police are doing a very difficult and dangerous job (as are the photographers), but it’s a very difficult feeling to escape with this particular set of images.
Remember the “what will the Daily Show do when George W. Bush is out of office?” talk? Well, while making fun of FOX News is not going to be a substitute for making fun of a disastrous president, the above needed to be said. It’ll be no fun listening to variations of it repeated ad nauseam, but it sure is fun to hear it once. The quick summation of GWB’s worst hits is worth the price of admission, and the outrage/gloat tone makes this the Daily Show clip for the time capsule. I hope Jon Stewart doesn’t cave to the Media Watchdog role some are pushing him towards, but, among other things, this clip demonstrates how effective he’d be in that role. If I could pick 6 minutes out of the last year of the Daily Show that every person would get to see, this would be it.
Predictions for when various states will legalize gay marriage. Fairly rigorous, the model uses data on when various states attempted to pass gay marriage bans, and the level of religiosity in the population. The tipping point comes between 2012 and 2013, which is also the year where we find Florida in the list. Mississippi is dead last, at 2024. (via)
At the beginning of last week’s This American Life, Ira Glass suggests that many of us are resigned to not really understanding what’s going on with the financial sector. Then the NPR boys go straight into explaining it, starting in the simplest terms and working up to the global collapse scale. Required. One of the more interesting people in the show is Simon Johnson (a former International Monetary Fund bigshot who’s worked with many other countries fixing exactly this situation), who Terry Gross had an interview that is also very interesting. That should prepare you for the Baseline Scenario post from Johnson’s blog, and all the other jargon-heavy reports you’ll to be encountering.
Update: Spoilers (don’t read on if you’re going to listen to the programs): The amount of debt Americans hold, as a percentage of GDP, typically oscillates between 20 and 50%; at two points in the last century it’s hit 100%: in 1929 and in 2007. So all these people yelling about how banks should lend out the money the US government is giving them are exactly wrong — arguably it was our level of debt that, as much as anything, caused the current crisis.
Johnson believes that the solution is fairly obvious: nationalize the banks. You nationalize, clean up the mess, and re-privatize them. Apparently that’s what the IMF, with the USA’s blessing, has been helping/forcing governments with similar problems do for decades, and it works reasonably well. Also, the US government does it all the time, just on a smaller scale than would be presently required. But were it not for the “obvious” political problems, the IMF would advise us to do exactly that. There’s also the suggestion that — maybe — that’s exactly what the Obama administration quietly is preparing to do.
Lawrence Lessig presents a more fleshed out argument for public funding of Congressional elections at Google. Supports withholding money from elections for members who don’t support the plan … an interesting strategy.