History's solutions to runaway inequality: warfare, revolution, state collapse and plague

In Walter Scheidel's new book The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, the Stanford classics prof traces the rise and fall of inequality from humanity's history, showing how over time, the rich get richer and richer, creating an ever-more-unstable situation, until, basically, the world melts down or the people start building guillotines on their doorsteps. Read the rest

If Susan Collins confirms Kavanaugh, $300K will automatically be sent to her Democratic challenger

Ady Barkan's Be a Hero campaign is taking pledges of cash to go to the Democratic challenger for Maine Senator Susan Collins if she breaks her word and votes to confirm Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Read the rest

After industry adopts open video standards, MPEG founder says the end is nigh

Leonardo Chiariglione is founder and chairman of the International Standards Organization's Motion Picture Expert Group (MPEG), whose standards have dominated video playback since the earliest days; MPEG's primary rival is the Alliance for Open Media, an ascendant open standards body that requires that members promise not to enforce patents that overlap with its standards, meaning that anyone can play back AOM video without paying rent to MPEG members. Read the rest

A rare class-action victory over Wells Fargo's fake accounts proves binding arbitration sucks

Wells Fargo got caught ripping off millions of customers by setting up fake accounts in their names, then billing them for "services" related to those accounts, sometimes tanking their credit-ratings, costing them jobs, even their houses -- but the company says you're not allowed to sue them because their employees fraudulently signed your name to a "binding arbitration" agreement that forces you to take your case to a fake judge whose salary they pay. Read the rest