Politics & Activism
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If Y Combinator is the next PayPal Mafia, then Paul Graham is Silicon Valley's godfather. Graham is the cofounder of Y Combinator, the investment firm that plugs seed money ($18,000 on average) into early stage startups in exchange for mentorship and access to its ever-growing network of alumni. It's the latter benefit that's truly made Y Combinator a Valley powerhouse--YC's vast network of influential entrepreneurs that includes breakout Valley stars such as the founders of Dropbox and Airbnb. (We attempted to capture this network on our list of the Most Innovative Companies in Business with this fantastic infographic .) Early on, Graham envisioned this network as a "replacement for the traditional corporation."
The bankruptcy process determines whether a debtor can pay all debts and still have enough money for the basic necessities for living. It is also an attempt to recover the productive capacity of the debtor. (PhysOrg.com) -- Two interesting facts that may counter modern ideas about bankruptcy: The overwhelming majority of U.S. filings belong to individuals rather than corporations or entities, and most of these people wait far too long to seek bankruptcy protection. These are two of many cultural misconceptions associated with bankruptcy in the United States, says Tim Tarvin, associate professor and supervising attorney in the student-staffed Federal Practice Clinic at the University of Arkansas School of Law. “It’s very sad,” Tarvin says.
In December 2011, leaders from around the world gathered at the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations meeting in Doha, a forum meant to encourage dialogue between cultures and people. The host nation, Qatar, asked Vangelis, the Greek composer, to create the music for the event, which also marked the inauguration of Doha's cultural village and Greek-style amphitheatre. The event brought together celebrated artists from around the world and his music was written to formulate a message of hope. Vangelis, one of the world's most celebrated creators of electronic music and the Oscar-winning composer of the music for Bladerunner and Chariots of Fire, came to a Middle East in the midst of upheaval at a time of financial crisis in his own country. Al Jazeera's Tony Harris met the composer to talk about the role of music in our times.
Australia's Aborigines can be discriminated against under sections 25 and 51 of the constitution. Photograph: Gary Calton Australia is poised to make historic changes to its constitution, recognising Aborigines as the country's original inhabitants and removing the last clauses of state-sanctioned racial discrimination. The amendments could be put to the Australian people in a referendum before the next general election in 2013, after the prime minister, Julia Gillard, endorsed the unanimous findings of a panel of 19 experts. Section 25 of the constitution recognises that states can disqualify people, such as Aborigines, from voting. Section 51 says federal parliament can make laws based upon a person's race.
The "big story" of the U.S. economy is that we have substituted expansion of debt for meaningful increases in productivity. For the past 30 years, the U.S. economy has become increasingly dependent on explosive debt expansion for its "growth" rather than on meaningful rises in meaningful productivity. Growth is in quotes because growth based on secular increases in productivity--that is, the same investment of labor and capital produces goods and services of greater value--is qualitatively different from "growth" based on a pyramiding of debt. Real growth based on rising productivity is sustainable, "growth" based on ever-greater expansions of debt is not. What has kept the Status Quo from falling off the debt cliff over the past four years is the substitution of exploding Federal/public debt for no-longer-rising private debt.
The unstoppable Ali Ferzat reminds us why the Assad regime hates him On August 25, the 60-year-old Syrian political cartoonist Ali Ferzat was driving home from his office in Damascus when a car with tinted windows blocked the road. Men dragged Ferzat from his car, stuffed him in a van, beat him severely and broke both his hands in what they called " a warning " and dumped him on the side of the road. "Once my fingers have healed, I'll go back," Ferzat told an interviewer in December, after finally leaving the hospital. Above is a particularly trenchant cartoon from Ferzat,* a stunning indictment of Syria's absurd and self-defeating crackdown. Egyptian blogger Bassem Sabry called it "one of the most amazing cartoons I have ever seen."
The World Economic Forum released its global assessment on Wednesday, and it paints a stark future if world institutions - including governments, private industry, academic institutions, and civil society organizations - don't make some radically practical changes. Risks will be top of the agenda at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos. From the report : As the world grows increasingly complex and interdependent, the capacity to manage the systems that underpin our prosperity and safety is diminishing.
Moving in harmony can make people feel more connected to one another and, as a result, lead to positive collective action. Think of those feel-good vibes created in a yoga class as students move in unison through their downward-facing dogs. Yet given that synchronized physical activities are also a cornerstone of military training and are the highlights of military propaganda reels, could the interconnectedness created by coordinated action be mined to make people behave destructively instead? According to two studies conducted by Scott Wiltermuth, assistant professor of management and organization at the USC Marshall School of Business, the cohesiveness synchronized action fosters can, indeed, be manipulated for less than ideal ends.
Depending on Central State/central bank borrowing and spending to prop up the Status Quo is a doomed strategy. I think the thread between these three seemingly disparate stories is clearly visible. I am indebted to longtime correspondent Joel M. for sending me these articles: A Dimly Flickering Light in a Darkened Downtown .