The bailout in plain english

Found a couple of links today that I just had to share.

This old cartoon seems to fairly nicely sum up why we are in this situation:
http://www.dvorak.org/blog/2008/12/25/15-year-old-cartoon-predicts-the-future/

And this may have been linked all over the place by now, but if you haven’t seen it the millions of monkeys analogy makes this whole bailout thing much easier to understand.

Once upon a time a man appeared in a village and announced to the villagers that he would buy monkeys for $10 each.

The villagers, seeing that there were many monkeys around, went out to the forest and started catching them. The man bought thousands at $10 and, as supply started to diminish, the villagers stopped their effort. He next announced that he would now buy monkeys at $20 each.

This renewed the efforts of the villagers and they started catching monkeys again. Soon the supply diminished even further and people started going back to their farms. The offer increased to $25 each and the supply of monkeys became so scarce it was an effort to even find a monkey, let alone catch it! The man now announced that he would buy monkeys at $50 each! However, since he had to go to the city on some business, his assistant would buy on his behalf.

In the absence of the man, the assistant told the villagers: ‘Look at all these monkeys in the big cage that the man has already collected. I will sell them to you at $35 and when the man returns from the city, you can sell them to him for $50 each.’

The villagers rounded up all their savings and bought all the monkeys for 700 billion dollars.

They never saw the man or his assistant again, only lots and lots of monkeys.

Now you have a better understanding of how the Wall Street Bailout Plan works.

Where do you get your truth from?

Before I delve into this, a quick screening video. If you think this guy doesn’t know his arse from his eye socket and the satellite was cut off by accident, go back to sleep. This post isn’t for you.

Do I still have your attention? If you’re the sort of person who believes that even some of what he’s saying could be true, there are some very interesting discussions over at the podcasts daily source code and no agenda. Mevio have finally added useful RSS links directly on their show pages so I don’t mind linking to them:
http://dailysourcecode.com/
http://noagenda.mevio.com/

 

Now, I’m not saying that Adam is a genius. Far from it, he’s a total crackpot (and not ashamed of it) with so many conspiracy theories up his sleeve that the rabbits got bored and went home. You have to take everything he says with a mountain of salt; something around the size of mt everest per episode should do.

What he does have is an army of followers feeding him links from mainstream publications that don’t get attention. It’s one giant news aggregator. I won’t link to the aggregation site directly; that thing is information overload taken to an extreme and you could be lost for days. What Adam has turned the DSC into is discussion of the links that are posted to it.

If, now that I’ve prodded you a few times, you do check out the podcasts, you may be wondering how you’ll ever find time to listen to oddball shows that are up to and sometimes over 90 minutes. I get by in bite-size pieces. I don’t listen to regular news anymore, if you total up the shows per week it comes out to around 4 or 5 hours which suits my commute time perfectly 🙂

Oh and if you do take the plunge it is far better to combine both shows into a playlist and listen chronologically. Not only do conversation topics carry through both shows, but after the endless doom & gloom stories during the week John C. Dvorak is the voice of reason over the weekend. I’ve said before that No Agenda is good to leave in the background and pick up interesting things occasionally; I’m finding that recent shows have had a much higher ratio of topics worth paying attention to.

 

Personally, I’m on the fence about how much of this stuff is true. I keep listening mostly because this is a great way to get alternative news stories – helps me to keep an open mind about what’s going on in the world and give at least a passing thought to what I would do in the worst-case scenario. I have to admit though, part of it is because life is still pretty good in Australia right now and it’s darkly amusing to see how screwed the rest of the world will be if even half of the predictions are true. Not to make light of the current global problems but I can’t do anything to solve it. All I can do is hope that enough of the people who are affected wake up and start working toward actual long-term solutions.

Subversive government seems to be the in thing these days

It looks like the doomsday predictions from a couple of weeks ago were true – Britain pushed the Lisbon treaty through, it took a rich old guy suing them saying it’s illegal without a referendum to stop it (and even that will probably only last a week).

It’s not just Europe though, apparently Americans are putting all kinds of things into their housing bills these days. Seriously, it should be illegal for politicians to sneak something into a Bill that has nothing to do with the main topic of the Bill.

It’s no wonder the governments in power are so unpopular (we all know about Bush, but Brown has his problems too). As the internet becomes more pervasive, so does all the information people dig up.

Europeans found their voice

The European public has proved they are a dangerous force to be reckoned with. After a very successful education campaign, the Lisbon Treaty is dead.

EU leaders in Brussels and governments across the union, particularly Germany and France, were stunned by the Irish verdict, which amounted to a huge vote of no confidence in the way the EU is run.

Amusingly the guardian is reporting that some parts of the EU are still trying to find a loophole:

Everything suggested that Europe’s key leaders were urgently conferring on a scheme to steamroller their blueprint through despite the Irish rejection, a course likely to trigger protest from Eurosceptics and deepen Europe’s democratic legitimacy problems.

Sounds like they already have pretty serious democratic legitimacy problems if they’re still trying to push through a document that is so obviously unpopular with the citizens they represent. It can’t be a very good idea with their next election only a year away.

On the plus side, I’m no longer worried about sounding crazy in my post a few days ago. Enough of the Irish thought we were right to vote no 🙂

Has Europe gone crazy too?

(I’m probably going to come across as a nutjob after my rant a couple of posts ago and now this. All I can say is, either I spend too much time listening to Adam Curry or the rest of the world is too lazy to care about what their politicians are doing to them. In a world that cares so much about human rights, I’ve seen no complaints about the rights that are going to be taken away.)

Two years ago, the European Constitution was blocked. This obviously annoys the politicians backing it, so what do they do? They create the “Lisbon Treaty”, bypassing the need for citizens to approve it, and use it to say “take the constitution document that the citizens blocked, add this stuff to it, and pass it without asking them”.

At first this claim sounds like paranoid conspiracy delusions but it’s all backed up with research and links to the documents. Have a go, try to read the Treaty – as soon as you hit the meat on page 10 you see that it’s nothing but amendments to the constitution document.

Oh and here’s a bunch of politcians opposed to passing the Lisbon Treaty without a public vote as far back as July last year:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVeMBNB0cII

Once again I’m linking to a Daily Source Code podcast, episode 764 this time. Start around 12 minutes, when Adam begins with some background (eg some EU countries have already ratified this) that is interesting but takes a while to get rolling. He then spends a full 10 minutes quoting from the document some points I have copied below, adding his interpretation in plain english examples. Now obviously there are no lawyers to confirm his statements but most of the implications are fairly obvious.

I highly recommend taking in the full 20 minute rant. I know I haven’t had much success in making any of my readers listen to stuff like this in the past, and if you don’t live in Europe you may not care, but hey at least I tried.

So here’s the articles that Adam quoted. The first point in each list is the article proper (the only bit you’re supposed to read) followed by the fine print added in an amendment. Each time it’s negated to the point where this is starting to sound like a police state.

  • No death penalty, you have a right to life.
  • If someone attacks a police officer, resists arrest, or is participating in a riot or insurrection, depravation of life is not illegal
  • States can enact the death penalty during time of war or imminent threat of war
  • Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person
  • Except that minors can be detained for the purpose of educational supervision
  • Except that you can be detained if you spread infectious diseases, are “of unsound mind”, are an alcoholic, drug addict or vagrant
  • Freedom of expression and information, right to hold and impart information and ideas
  • Excercising this freedom is subject to formalities, conditions, restrictions and penalties as is “necessary in a democratic society”. An example of when the freedom can be taken away:
    • Prevention of disorder
    • In the interest of national security
    • The protection of health or morals
    • Prevention of disclosing information received in confidence

This all goes into effect January 1st, and the only way it can be stopped is if Ireland’s referendum on the 12th of June blocks it. There is no way any other citizen in the European Union can stop it, because it’s a treaty that must be simply “ratified” rather than holding a referendum. In fact the only reason it can be stopped at all is because Ireland is the only EU country with enough independence to mandate a referendum for it.

I don’t know what else to say, other than I hope the people of Ireland understand what they’re letting themselves in for before they vote on this one. Unfortunately the entire document seems designed to avoid that, making it so complicated that people just vote yes.

I still have some hope for America

Sometimes I wonder if America’s gone crazy. Luckily, there are still some sane people around and listening to those that are speaking out on podcasts says to me that eventually enough people will pay attention and they will start waking up the general public. The influence of Ron Paul over the internet generation certainly proved to me that it’s starting to happen. In any case, here are a couple of examples.

I nearly blogged about a lengthy rant from Dave Slusher when I heard it, but I slacked off and eventually forgot about it until today. At the time, I wondered why I wasn’t hearing more people speaking their mind about America’s political situation (maybe you hear it more often if you’re actually in America).

This morning I started listening No Agenda’s latest episode, and the way they talk about the stupid things going on in the world in an honest way reminded me of Dave’s rant – showing a clear passion for their country and utter disbelief at what’s happening to it. I find that No Agenda gives me the real interesting news coming out of America, with opinions that actually have half a brain behind them.

Topics I enjoyed in this week’s episode:

  • privatised jails leading to luxury jails where celebs pay for comfortable cells
  • why are we paying US$120 a barrel for oil while shell sits back and makes crazy amounts of money
  • canola is a manufactured oil, anyone talking about canola plants is talking out of their arse
  • A juicy rumor that the music business is considering a new model, advertising in music videos

Now I’ve talked about both shows before, but nobody’s ever given me feedback about listening to ’em and quite frankly, I’m not surprised. Predominately talk shows aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.

The thing about No Agenda in particular is that you need to get past the episode length. Don’t be scared by the fact that each episode is between 60 and 100 minutes; nobody has that much time to sit around listening to a podcast. No Agenda, to me, is like a great background radio show. I put it on and continue with what I’m doing. Anything from walking home to writing a blog post (yes, I’m listening to it while writing this). Occasionally something they say will catch my attention and I refocus for a bit, or rewind if I only pick up on it in the middle of a conversation. The point is you don’t need to listen to the whole thing. There are no ads or music so it’s literally just eavesdropping on a couple of tech geeks chatting (except they actually want you to listen).

This all sounds like a waste of time; but the benefits you gain from catching the pieces that really interest you are very much worth it. Particularly if you’re like me, not an American and often wondering WTF is up with those silly people. Here’s two Americans wondering the same thing, and because they are American they’re often more informed on the topics. This leads to some very interesting opinions and discussion; not limited to Americans either but often news coming out of the UK as well.

Apparently No Agenda is generating quite a large audience, and many of them don’t know why they listen (this was mentioned a week or two ago). I think I’ve figured out why – they take the news of the week and apply proper, down to earth reasoning to it rather than the sugar coated crap that comes out of the mainstream news channels.

It’s addictive because it’s so refreshing for anyone paying attention and actually giving a crap about the state of the world.

An Australian spanner in the Yahoo & Microsoft deal

I haven’t seen this reported in the usual coverage sources, so maybe I can get some traction on this one.  Microsoft is going to have one hell of a time figuring out what to do in Australia if the takeover goes ahead.  They can’t do a plain merger between the two companies here because they’ve aligned themselves with competing Free To Air TV networks 😀

I had forgotten about this myself, but one of our local newspapers just pointed it out and it’s sure to complicate matters.  Microsoft joined with Channel Nine at least 4 or 5 years ago to create ninemsn, and a couple of years ago Yahoo managed to score a deal with Channel Seven and created Yahoo!7.  (For the curious, our other major networks are Channel Ten and ABC – unrelated to the American ABC channel – and both run their own websites).

If Yahoo becomes a part of Microsoft I doubt either network will be willing to put aside years of fierce rivalries just because their website partners have become the same company.  On top of that, all of our FTA networks have been making a big push in the last year or so to have a website and/or podcasts for their popular shows (particularly the talk shows) and if they have to change their website address it’ll only confuse the market share they’ve worked so hard to build.

If it does happen, I’m going to sit back and watch the fireworks 🙂

No agenda, but plenty of interesting discussion

In the last couple of weeks I’ve started listening to a new show from two of the more recognisable names in the podcast universe – John Dvorak and Adam Curry – called No Agenda.  It’s a nice return to the podcast days of old; no jingles, no music, no ads (except the usual podshow/limelight tail) and, funnily enough, no agenda of topics the show will cover.

Normally I wouldn’t post just because I’ve found a cool new show, but these guys have been talking about some really interesting stuff.  Here are two of their topics that I was tempted to blog about, but to be honest I wouldn’t be saying anything that wasn’t already said on the show.

  • American Thought Crime Prevention Bill – although depending who you ask people may be overreacting to this one
  • Dutch backpackers who overstayed their Tourist Visa due to illness and wound up in a Texas prison for six weeks (article in Dutch here, you can either get a basic translation from something like the fish or listen to Adam translate the major points on the show).

So far, the show seems to mostly revolve around topics they think need more attention in the news.   That’s not really surprising given their backgrounds, but it means that if you do give it a try you may hear some stuff you wish you hadn’t (and I’m not talking about their language 😉 )

A politician who makes sense?

I finally finished listening to a rather lengthy episode from Adam Curry last friday.  He rambles for 20 minutes starting at 44:15 about the US elections and how Ron Paul has policies that normal people actually want.  I’m not American, nor am I really into politics, so I’m not going to sit here and try to describe why this guy is gaining a huge internet following.  Listen to the podcast, or if 20 minutes of Adam Curry is too much for you then how about 8 minutes of Bill Maher:

There’s also Ron’s “a new hope” video which is a 9 minute campaign spot but covers more of the major points he’s trying to put across.

I still have to catch up on the Monday and Tuesday DSC episodes – which have shownotes sounding like not everyone loves this guy – but it’ll be interesting to see how the US elections pan out.  Is the internet community now powerful enough to get this guy elected when he doesn’t have the huge campaign funding of the bigger candidates?

Update on my posts over the weekend

Some of the topics I posted about last weekend have received extra attention this week.  The majority of the new discussion is related to my DRM post; I’ve put all of this on my link blog but I know of at least a few people who read my blog and don’t subscribe to the links.

Bill Harris over at Dubious Quality wrote up a nice summary of BioShock issues that covers not only the issues I experienced, but the stuff that I left out.  He also links to a Bioshock DRM article at TwitchGuru which goes into a lot of detail about the SecuROM issues and quite rightly calls this “a badly botched launch for an early contender for game of the year”.  Meanwhile, Alex from the WGA management team has posted the details of why WGA failed (I was right, they had a cascade of sysadmin mistakes) and promises to prevent it ever happening again.

In much brighter news, both Scott Sigler and JC Hutchins left comments on my 7th Son post.  As much as they love me for what I say about them, I still consider this a bit of an honor and once again proves my point about podcasters connecting with their audience 😀

While I’m on the topic of podcasters loving me, if you listen to today’s DSC you’ll hear Adam raving about a link I sent him (show timestamp 12:50) – the Opera Mini beta which is attempting to produce an iPhone-like browser for any Java enabled phone.  I highly recommend the Opera vs iPhone video, it’s hilarious 🙂