SalJake sez, "Nifty infographic outlining the money path from the Koch brothers to Wisconsin's 'never negotiate, never surrender' governor and Tea Party darling Scott Walker. The blogger who successfully prank called to Da Gov was impersonating billionaire David Koch. Thanks to this prank, we have him recorded as asking Fake David Koch to finance advertisements in the home districts of GOP senators, because people there are PISSED OFF. And rightly so, I might add."
My friends in Madison say they've been told that the Capitol Building will be cleared of protesters today around 4:00 pm. Passive resistance—"Gandhi-style"—is planned. It's my hope that the protests will remain as peaceful and spirited as they've been so far, and that the people tasked with removing protesters will respond to that peacefulness. In the meantime, check out this Forbes article debunking one of the biggest myths to come out of this situation. The truth: Wisconsin public employees pay for their own retirement plans.
Inspired by the UK Uncut movement, Americans are taking to the street, asking why they're being asked to tighten their belts when the largest corporations in the country are paying no tax at all:
- BANK OF AMERICA: In 2009, Bank of America didn't pay a single penny in federal income taxes, exploiting the tax code so as to avoid paying its fair share. "Oh, yeah, this happens all the time," said Robert Willens, a tax accounting expert interviewed by McClatchy. "If you go out and try to make money and you don't do it, why should the government pay you for your losses?" asked Bob McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice. The same year, the mega-bank's top executives received pay "ranging from $6 million to nearly $30 million."
- BOEING: Despite receiving billions of dollars from the federal government every single year in taxpayer subsidies from the U.S. government, Boeing didn't "pay a dime of U.S. federal corporate income taxes" between 2008 and 2010.
- CITIGROUP: Citigroup's deferred income taxes for the third quarter of 2010 amounted to a grand total of $0.00. At the same time, Citigroup has continued to pay its staff lavishly. "John Havens, the head of Citigroup's investment bank, is expected to be the bank's highest paid executive for the second year in a row, with a compensation package worth $9.5 million."
Update:I was wrong. Writing on behalf of the Tolkien estate, Steven Maier, partner at the Oxford law firm of Manches LLP, says, "Zazzle has confirmed that it took down the link of its own accord, because its content management department came across the product and deemed it to be potentially infringing."
Zazzle user Harpocrates has a thoroughgoing response to the Tolkien estate's insistence that a badge reading "While You Were Reading Tolkien, I Was Watching Evangelion" infringes on its rights -- a series of tees and buttons.
Disappearing Spoons sells kits to make your own gallium prank-teaspoons. Gallium spoons weigh nearly as much as stainless steel ones, and have a similar finish, but they dissolve in hot liquids like tea. When the tea cools, the gallium forms a lump in the cup, ready to be molded into a new prank-spoon!
A new project uses the Microsoft Kinect as a crude 3D scanner. Joris from i.materialise sez, "Fabricate Yourself is a tool by Karl Willis of Interactive Fabrication. Released at the Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction Conference, the tool lets people strike a pose in front of a Microsoft Kinect. If they like the pose they can 3D print the result. The tool is not yet finished and improvements in resolution have to be made."
"How We Know" is Freeman Dyson's essay on information theory in next month's New York Review of Books, inspired by James Gleick's The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood. Dyson's thoughts on Claude Shannon, Wikipedia, and twenty-first century science are illuminating, and man, does it ever leave me wanting to read the book -- Gleick being one of the greatest science writers of all time, and information theory being one of the subjects that interests me the most.
Jimmy Wales hoped when he started Wikipedia that the combination of enthusiastic volunteer writers with open source information technology would cause a revolution in human access to knowledge. The rate of growth of Wikipedia exceeded his wildest dreams. Within ten years it has become the biggest storehouse of information on the planet and the noisiest battleground of conflicting opinions. It illustrates Shannon's law of reliable communication. Shannon's law says that accurate transmission of information is possible in a communication system with a high level of noise. Even in the noisiest system, errors can be reliably corrected and accurate information transmitted, provided that the transmission is sufficiently redundant. That is, in a nutshell, how Wikipedia works.
The information flood has also brought enormous benefits to science. The public has a distorted view of science, because children are taught in school that science is a collection of firmly established truths. In fact, science is not a collection of truths. It is a continuing exploration of mysteries. Wherever we go exploring in the world around us, we find mysteries. Our planet is covered by continents and oceans whose origin we cannot explain. Our atmosphere is constantly stirred by poorly understood disturbances that we call weather and climate. The visible matter in the universe is outweighed by a much larger quantity of dark invisible matter that we do not understand at all. The origin of life is a total mystery, and so is the existence of human consciousness. We have no clear idea how the electrical discharges occurring in nerve cells in our brains are connected with our feelings and desires and actions.
I haven't played a stringed instrument since high school, but "Captain Beefheart's 10 Commandments of Guitar Playing" sounds like damned good advice for whatever you're passionate about.
...2. Your guitar is not really a guitar
Your guitar is a divining rod. Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is also a fishing rod. If you're good, you'll land a big one.
3. Practice in front of a bush
Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grained bread and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush doesn't shake, eat another piece of bread...
7. Always carry a church key
That's your key-man clause. Like One String Sam. He's one. He was a Detroit street musician who played in the fifties on a homemade instrument. His song "I Need a Hundred Dollars" is warm pie. Another key to the church is Hubert Sumlin, Howlin' Wolf's guitar player. He just stands there like the Statue of Liberty -- making you want to look up her dress the whole time to see how he's doing it.
8. Don't wipe the sweat off your instrument
You need that stink on there. Then you have to get that stink onto your music.
Belarusian fraudster Dmitry M. Naskovets has been pled guilty to charges that he set up a boiler-room full of English- and German-speaking con-artists who worked with identity thieves to defraud banks and their depositors. I often think that broken English is actually a serious advantage in blog-spam; my personal sites get hammered by this stuff, but I also get a fair bit of non-native English speakers posting, and it's a lot harder to figure out whether the stilted post is someone's goofy SEO scheme or just a Bulgarian who's using Google Translate to help post something rather nice.
Identity Theft Support CenterIn June 2007, Naskovet, and coconspirator Sergey Semasko, also a Belarusian national, created CallService.biz to counteract security measures put in place by financial institutions to prevent fraud when account holders try to make transfers or withdrawals from their accounts. In exchange for a fee, the two men provided the services of English- and German-speaking individuals to persons who had stolen account and biographical information to defeat the security screening processes. Using information provided by the identity thieves over the site, the callers would confirm unauthorized withdrawals or transfers from bank accounts, unblock accounts, or change the address or phone number associated with an account, thereby giving the thieves access.
Charlie Brooker's commentary on Gadaffi's erratic atrocities -- and the western leaders who've kissed up to him over the years -- from last week's Ten O'Clock Live is some of the most nose-milk-spurting material ever aired. I wish that all of Ten O'Clock Live's clips were on YouTube, as it would be amazing blogfodder -- the show is better than The Daily Show most weeks, IMO (I've asked, C4 say their lawyers won't let them because there are clips of the BBC, Sky, etc, which is some pretty weird fair dealing analysis).
The people at Bits From Bytes, who sell 3D printer kits, fed some mashed potatoes to a RapMan printer and used it to print some quite credible prototype 3D food.
But it's not without some issues. In the video they indicate the syringe-like extruder is running at a slow 16mm/sec rate, perhaps the slowest typical setting for printing plastic. They are unsure whether this can be increased, meaning food prints (of at least potatoes) are destined for slow production.