Malayse

September 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

This is rather depressing. Indonesian and Malaysian forests are already responsible for enormous amounts of carbon output. Indonesian peat fires in 97 released more carbon than all industrial nations combined. Now, apparently, it’s not only palm plantations (for palm oil) but gold that’s behind deforestation. El Dorado indeed.

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Drachmonian measures for Greece.

September 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Things are not looking good for Greece. A property tax has been passed that will be collected by means of utility bills. At least that’s the idea. Drachonian measures. Citizens take to the streets to show their opposition — but the government and in fact the country is under pressure from Northern Europeans to reform and restructure debts. Among them, of course, Germany — whose position is often colored more than a little by Schadenfreude. How this all works out is hard to see. And this is only the beginning of the Euro crisis.

Operation Occupy Wallstreet

September 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Why did this event not get more mainstream press coverage?

Plan B

September 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

When the debt-bubble burst in 2008, the nostalgic pining for a return to Keynes gave birth to the last-ditch alliance of neo-Keynesian liberalism. As the bailout and stimulus packages shifted the debt problem back to the state, the crisis of the financial markets was replaced with a sovereign debt crisis, only on a much higher level than in the 1970s and with no leeway to repeat the operation. In the summer of 2011, policy makers have finally ‘run out of rabbits to pull out of hats’ as economist Nouriel Roubini puts it. We have been living on borrowed time. Without real growth, however, not only the question of debt sustainability becomes a tricky one. The covenant of capitalist societies itself is rendered nil and void.

What then distinguishes the current crisis from its predecessors? To answer the questions, we need to let go of the postmodern fiction of an infinitely malleable reality. By producing goods and services the way it does, capitalism creates a historical dynamic which is as material and objective as it is directional and irreversible. While we are desperate for the light to emerge at the end of the tunnel as usual, there is no reason to believe that capitalism is endowed with the enigmatic capacity for eternal self-renewal. The present crisis does not simply mark the end of one particular model of growth that will give rise to a new model sooner or later, provided we are smart enough.

Economic collapse without salvation? by Heiko Feidner

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At the moment, we are pursuing a path to solution that relies on the system’s own operations. We’re using the system, and how it works and functions, to fix the system. But in the event that this only defers a final reckoning with both debt and unsustainable growth and progress — what paradigmatic changes do we have in mind to make? The shock will strike with awe. And a disorderly unraveling could be disastrous. How do you begin planning for a plan B?

Greeks protest new taxes

September 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Greeks protest taxes. London riots. Protesters at Wall street. If it were only historical cycles. This time the system is in much worse shape. it’s not oppression that has galvanized protesters; not party allegiances; not even social movements. It’s the very real and tangible costs of a system collapse. Costs paid by citizens in draconian measure. Costs inherited from years of growth unsustainably leveraged. Not values, in other words, but the absence of value: debt.

Is this really the plan for the Eurozone?

September 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Leveraged Stability? Excuse me?

Ilargi: The latest greatest plan to save Europe, or the Eurozone, or the Euro, whichever sounds better, involves taking the present legal authority and financial clout of the EFSF (European Financial Stability Facility), which due to become the ESM (European Stability Mechanism) in 2013, and expand them greatly, something like this (Reuters’ David Lawder and Daniel Flynn quote a “top EU official”):

Europe aims to beef up crisis fund
“We need to find a mechanism where we can turn one euro in the EFSF into five, but there is no decision on how we could do that yet” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Ilargi: You take an X amount of money and then you leverage it by a factor of five and claim it’s actually worth 5X. Something like that. And this in a supra-governmental kind of “fund” (whichever of the two) that carries the term “stability” in its name.

If “leveraged stability” is not already considered an oxymoron, it should and will be from now on in. All these people, from Merkel to Geithner to Lagarde, will tell you that this stuff is aimed at “restoring confidence -in the markets-“. Like the markets don’t understand what happens when €1 becomes €5 at the mere stroke of a keyboard.

Oh, they’ll take it, ain’t nobody don’t appreciate a free lunch, but it does nothing to restore confidence. Quite the opposite. You can’t bribe people into trusting you. The markets know: what the keyboard giveth, the keyboard taketh away.

But we’re to understand that today everyone’s finally in real panic mode, and that breaks all rules and previous promises and -moral- principles. When Tim Geithner goes so far as to suggest bank runs, it’s game on. From the same Reuters piece:

“The threat of cascading default, bank runs, and catastrophic risk must be taken off the table, as otherwise it will undermine all other efforts, both within Europe and globally,”Geithner told the IMF.

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This is beginning to look like 2008 all over again. Not in terms of causes, but in terms of mechanics and dynamics. System confidence is eroding extremely quickly now, as it becomes clear that solutions are but a bandaid. The bandaid under discussion now, it seems, is to set up a bank that leverages up the investments of European contributors — for the sake of crisis interventions. To save a debt crisis by issuing more debt, in other words. Is this really the plan? Because people won’t see through it?

Social tools, technologies of time

September 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Social systems only exist in and through the continuity of social practices, fading away in time.” Anthony Giddens

In matters of designing social media and social tools, I don’t think we can ever fully appreciate the importance of time. Time is largely invisible to design/ers. It has no visibility. It has no structure. No architecture. And yet time is the essential ribbon on which the life lived unfolds. It is the flow that connects, as it is the thread that is interrupted. Discontinuous when mediated, but ever unspooling for the user.

Social tools are. They “exist.” By means of predication, we are able to name them. And so attach to them attributes they do not in fact possess. Users bring social tools to life. Tools without users are not only useless, they are no longer tools. They are just dead paragraphs of code resting on silicon substrates inanimate.

Social interaction is event. Users are eventual. Activity is eventful. Time — rhythmic, habitual, repetitive, routine — is the hidden architecture of social interaction. And a primary dimension of use of social tools.

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