20% of New York retail space is sitting vacant

A study conducted by Douglas Elliman Real Estate found that one in five New York retail spaces is sitting vacant; these spaces are boarded up and attract vandalism, drug-dealing, and other unsavory activities. The rate has more than tripled since 2016. Read the rest

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

US voting machine vendors and officials insist that it's OK to build wireless networking into election systems

I've been fighting with voting machine vendors since Bush v Gore, when companies like Diebold brazenly sought to subvert the Supreme Court's order to standardize a secure design for US voting machines, going so far as to send out thousands of fraudulent copyright notices in a failed attempt to silence whistleblowers who'd reported defects in their systems. Read the rest

Extreme poverty is on the decline, extreme inequality is on the rise

The rich world has never been more unequal, and the poor world has never richer: in 2018, we're seeing record low levels of global "extreme poverty" (a measure that's admittedly a bit fuzzy) and record levels of inequality, which wealth concentrated into a declining number of hands. Read the rest

The Russian equivalent to Alexa is a "good girl" but not too friendly, and is totally OK with wife-beating

Yandex is Russia's answer to Weibo, an everything-under-one-(semi-state-controlled)-roof online service, and its answer to Alexa is Alisa. Read the rest

Elon's Basilisk: why exploitative, egomaniacal rich dudes think AI will destroy humanity

Why does Elon Musk think that AI is going to kill us all? Why do so many "rationalist" techbros assume that he's right? Read the rest

The Trump-Kim commemorative coin now commemorates Trump's disastrous handling of the North Korea talks

Ahead of Trump's planned summit with North Korean "Supreme Leader" Kim Jong Un, the White House issued a tacky commemorative coin; once Trump sent his petulant breakup letter to Kim canceling the summit, the coin became the discounted "deal of the day" at the White House gift shop. Read the rest

War criminal Henry Kissinger: "AI is the end of the Enlightenment"

Henry Kissinger -- the war-criminal who abetted Pinochet's coup in Chile, supported the genocide of Bangledeshis by Pakistan, and architected the US's secret bombing campaigns in Indochina -- is worried about AI. Read the rest

The most hated company in America is about to get much, much bigger

Comcast is a perennial winner of national polls for the most hated company in America, and the bigger it gets, the worse it gets: back in 2011, the Obama administration let the company swallow NBC Universal, teeing it up to powerfully benefit from the destruction of Net Neutrality under Trump; now Trump is poised to let the company buy Fox and Sky, making the company bigger and more powerful. Read the rest

The other class war: technocrats vs plutocrats

After World War Two, the balance of wealth shifted dramatically: the super-rich lost so much capital during the two wars and the interwar period that their grip on power slipped, creating the space for a welfare state and other reforms. Read the rest

Credit bubble a-burstin': wave of bankruptcies sweeps subprime car-lenders

The subprime car-lending industry -- charging exorbitant rates for car-loans to people least suited to afford them, enforced through orwellian technologies, obscuring the risk by spinning the debt into high-risk/high-yield bonds -- is collapsing. Read the rest

The Manhattan property bubble is bursting

Donald Trump's budget sought to punish blue states by removing income tax deductions for mortgage interest on high-ticket real estate; this was enough to prick the Manhattan property bubble, with co-op and condo sales volume dropping 25% year-on-year for Q1/18; the majority of red ink is in the luxury property market, where Q1 prices fell 15% year-on-year. Read the rest

The Wall Street Journal on the decade since the crash: inequality, giant banks, regulatory failures, looming catastrophe

It's been ten years since the financial crisis, when barely regulated banks destroyed the world's economy, kicked off wars, and directly and indirectly killed millions. Read the rest

Naomi Alderman's "The Power": in which fierce power of women is awoken

Naomi Alderman's prizewinning UK bestseller The Power comes to the US and Canada today, and you should just go read it right now.