October 2011 Archives

$150 mil. in taxes spent to help Citibank, Goldman, et al. spy on Occupy Wall Street

Long-time Wall Street insider Pam Martens reports:

Wall Street’s audacity to corrupt knows no bounds and the cooptation of government by the 1 per cent knows no limits. How else to explain $150 million of taxpayer money going to equip a government facility in lower Manhattan where Wall Street firms, serially charged with corruption, get to sit alongside the New York Police Department and spy on law abiding citizens….

The surveillance plan became known as the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative and the facility was eventually dubbed the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center. It operates round-the-clock. Under the imprimatur of the largest police department in the United States, 2,000 private spy cameras owned by Wall Street firms, together with approximately 1,000 more owned by the NYPD, are relaying live video feeds of people on the streets in lower Manhattan to the center. Once at the center, they can be integrated for analysis. At least 700 cameras scour the midtown area and also relay their live feeds into the downtown center where low-wage NYPD, MTA and Port Authority crime stoppers sit alongside high-wage personnel from Wall Street firms that are currently under at least 51 Federal and state corruption probes for mortgage securitization fraud and other matters.

In addition to video analytics which can, for example, track a person based on the color of their hat or jacket, insiders say the NYPD either has or is working on face recognition software which could track individuals based on facial features. The center is also equipped with live feeds from license plate readers.

According to one person who has toured the center, there are three rows of computer workstations, with approximately two-thirds operated by non-NYPD personnel. The Chief-Leader, the weekly civil service newspaper, identified some of the outside entities that share the space: Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, the Federal Reserve, the New York Stock Exchange. Others say most of the major Wall Street firms have an on-site representative….

The project has been funded by New York City taxpayers as well as all U.S. taxpayers through grants from the Federal Department of Homeland Security. On March 26, 2009, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) wrote a letter to Commissioner Kelly, noting that even though the system involves “massive expenditures of public money, there have been no public hearings about any aspect of the system.”

Posted by James on Oct 19, 2011

Bank of America preparing to screw taxpayers out of trillions (part 2)

Following up my blog post from yesterday on Bank of America’s criminal shift of gambling losses into its FDIC-insured bank subsidiary, here are additional insights from Yves Smith:

This move reflects either criminal incompetence or abject corruption by the Fed. Even though I’ve expressed my doubts as to whether Dodd Frank resolutions will work, dumping derivatives into depositaries pretty much guarantees a Dodd Frank resolution will fail. Remember the effect of the 2005 bankruptcy law revisions: derivatives counterparties are first in line, they get to grab assets first and leave everyone else to scramble for crumbs. So this move amounts to a direct transfer from derivatives counterparties of Merrill to the taxpayer, via the FDIC, which would have to make depositors whole after derivatives counterparties grabbed collateral….

During the savings & loan crisis, the FDIC did not have enough in deposit insurance receipts to pay for the Resolution Trust Corporation wind-down vehicle. It had to get more funding from Congress. This move paves the way for another TARP-style shakedown of taxpayers, this time to save depositors. No Congressman would dare vote against that. This move is Machiavellian, and just plain evil….

Bill Black said that the Bloomberg editors toned down his remarks considerably. He said, “Any competent regulator would respond: “No, Hell NO!” It’s time that the public also say no, and loudly, to yet another route for running a drip feed from taxpayers to banksters.

Posted by James on Oct 19, 2011

Bank of America putting taxpayers at risk for TENS OF TRILLIONS in bailouts

If you have money in Bank of America, I would take it out tomorrow and move it to your local bank because BoA appears to have potentially trillions of dollars in gambling losses it has just moved to the same subsidiary that holds your bank account.

(Some, including U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), advocate moving money out of major banks for a different reason: to punish them for their predatory behavior. That’s a totally separate issue.)

The 2008 financial crisis could look like a hiccup if European defaults trigger massive credit default swap (CDS) payouts from major US banks.

The riskiest major US bank is Bank of America, which has $75 TRILLION in derivatives:

Bank of America’s holding company — the parent of both the retail bank and the Merrill Lynch securities unit — held almost $75 trillion of derivatives at the end of June, according to data compiled by the OCC. About $53 trillion, or 71 percent, were within Bank of America NA.

What SHOULD happen if Bank of America suffers a multi-trillion-dollar gambling loss? The FDIC-insured portion of the bank should remain intact and regular depositors' accounts should remain untouched while the rest of the bank goes bankrupt, shareholders are wiped out, and other creditors fight for scraps in bankruptcy court. Those who placed winning bets with BoA would likely receive pennies on the dollar. And taxpayers would not contribute a nickel.

But Bank of America today did something that potentially puts taxpayers on the hook to bail out tens of trillions of dollars in idiotic BoA gambling losses. BoA moved tens of trillions of dollars of potential gambling losses into the same BoA subsidiary that holds massive quantities of FDIC-insured bank deposits.

This is supposed to be illegal. Banks holding companies are not supposed to shift high-risk assets and liabilities into the FDIC-insured bank. This is a fundamental protection of taxpayers against banks gambling with taxpayers' money:

Bank of America Corp. (BAC), hit by a credit downgrade last month, has moved derivatives from its Merrill Lynch unit to a subsidiary flush with insured deposits…

Moving derivatives contracts between units of a bank holding company is limited under Section 23A of the Federal Reserve Act, which is designed to prevent a lender’s affiliates from benefiting from its federal subsidy and to protect the bank from excessive risk originating at the non-bank affiliate, said Saule T. Omarova, a law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law.

“Congress doesn’t want a bank’s FDIC insurance and access to the Fed discount window to somehow benefit an affiliate, so they created a firewall,” Omarova said.

The FDIC is fighting this, but lackies of the mega-banks the Federal Reserve is allowing BoA to break the law:

The Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. disagree over the transfers, which are being requested by counterparties, said the people, who asked to remain anonymous because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. The Fed has signaled that it favors moving the derivatives to give relief to the bank holding company, while the FDIC, which would have to pay off depositors in the event of a bank failure, is objecting, said the people.

I’m going to go out on a very short limb and presume one of Bank of America’s counterparties is Goldman Sachs. Years ago, Goldman helped cook Greece’s books to get Greece loans it had no business getting. Based on Goldman’s behavior, I would be shocked if Goldman didn’t then turn around and use its inside information to place massive bets (through credit default swap derivatives) against Greece’s debt. Merrill Lynch (now part of Bank of America) apparently was the stooge for many such stupid CDS bets that Bank of America is now on the hook for. If so, then Bank of America is on the hook to Goldman for tens of trillions of dollars if the European debt crisis explodes. And Goldman — worried BoA wouldn’t be able to pay off its gambling debt — has now forced Bank of America to taxpayers on the hook for the gambling debt.

If taxpayers are stuck with tens of trillions in derivative contract (gambling) losses, we’ll all soon look back at the 2008 banking crisis as “the good old days.”

Posted by James on Oct 19, 2011

Gathering together all my Tweets

I (finally) started Tweeting in August and have found Twitter to be a superb tool for keeping up with the ever-changing tech world. But Tweets seem pretty ephemeral, so I decided to write a script to archive my Tweets. Thanks to the “twitter” Ruby gem, it’s quite easy to save the past week’s worth of Tweets. But going back in time required a lot of annoying copy-and-paste (and translating quotation marks to “"” and back again to make JSON happy). Anyhow, I’ve now collected here all my Tweets, some of which (esp. retweets) I think are very funny:

  • It’s only Round 2, but #coffeescript has #dart on the ropes (14 Oct)
  • RT @charlielapin: My dad pointed out I’m dressed like Bill Belichick today. Worst part is, he’s right. #Patriots (14 Oct)
  • When Rodney Harrison calls you out for playing too violently, it’s time to stop trying to kill other players! http://t.co/hI365fji (14 Oct)
  • RT @Pinboard: dennis ritchie is gone but the memory we’ve allocated to him will live on forever (14 Oct)
  • I’m going to bid $1 and hope no one else shows up! http://t.co/ixBO8kfE (14 Oct)
  • Just noticed a directory from 2009 that I titled “Screwing_Around.” Hope my wife doesn’t see it. (14 Oct)
  • Laptop shut off overnight. Thought “WTF?” Syslog said “Critical temperature reached (127 C), shutting down.” Wow! I would have quit by 100! (14 Oct)
  • RT @markbates: Contagion has to be the worse romantic comedy ever. I didn’t laugh once and no one ended up with the girl. #fail (14 Oct)
  • I’ve used Ubuntu for years; love it! @headius I think my Apple fanboi days are fading. I could be 100% happy with Linux (Ubuntu) and Android (14 Oct)
  • “Language 50,000 BC: Our ancestors like Yoda spoke” http://t.co/OSHqJ5rl Not convinced, but interesting argument (14 Oct)
  • I’d rather stick a pencil in my eye for free. Thanks anyhow. @guardiantech Want some cheap Microsoft software? (14 Oct)
  • RT @qrush: What I’ll miss about my first gen Droid: dust getting into the screen, not being able to pick up phone calls, home screen freezing, … (14 Oct)
  • Markus Gattol also shares good info on dm-crypt & LUKS: http://t.co/kQDZzKky (14 Oct)
  • I’m loving Markus Gattol’s fabulous, detailed tutorial on LVM (Logical Volume Manager): http://t.co/cSzlOier (14 Oct)
  • RT @wadhwa: Listening to a bunch of politicians discuss their vision of education. Never missed my dentist so much. Boring, propaganda. :) (14 Oct)
  • Materialist marriages suffer http://t.co/YDVh7ewo I’m glad my wife and I are both pretty frugal. (13 Oct)
  • RT @coreyhaines: Recruiter: How many years of rails experience do you have; @dhh: ALL OF THEM (favorite comment: http://t.co/zUE34t9Y) (13 Oct)
  • RT @ruby_news: Gitlab released. A similar to github application but for your servers with private repositories only. http://t.co/pJUyzt6P (13 Oct)
  • RT @avdi: And the brilliant hack used to break into celebrity email accounts was? Guessing their stupid, stupid passwords. http://t.co/LDCsEf4P (13 Oct)
  • RT @doctorow: Upgrading to Oneric Ocelot while on battery using free WiFi at NY Comic-Con #livingdangerously (13 Oct)
  • I wonder what the world record is for # of browser tabs open at same time. Only thing keeping me from Guinness: my browser crashes too often (13 Oct)
  • IBM spent decades & big $$$ building machines that read & translate English/Mandarin. Wife and I built one in 5 yrs w PB&J and mac&cheese. (13 Oct)
  • Character of Death: Copy/pasted “sudo dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/sda6” && changed 6 to 1. Paused and realized “a” needed to be “b”! Check 4x (13 Oct)
  • I’m resizing an encrypted partition: http://t.co/JiTv75Xi Feels dangerous, kind of like I imagine bungee jumping would feel. (13 Oct)
  • If someone tortures me to death, password protection will be one of my lesser concerns. “Your data or your life!” I’m ratting out my laptop! (13 Oct)
  • “Encrypting… won’t protect you [if] Someone tortures you to death for the passphrase (More on this in next section)” http://t.co/89vzXLs4 (13 Oct)
  • RT @thoughtbot: Backbone.js on Rails talk by @jayunit at @bostonrb – http://t.co/652w05ne (updated link) (13 Oct)
  • When did Red Sox become the anti-Patriots? Drinking in locker rm! Org has no more fingers to point at one another for historic Sept collapse (13 Oct)
  • In dishwasher tweet, I wanted to type “Not much H20 & MC2 saving if you wash everything twice” but unsure how many would get E=MC2 reference (13 Oct)
  • Don’t become too skilled at hiding backup hard drives from thieves or YOU’LL never find them again either. #moan #sigh (13 Oct)
  • I’d like my dishwasher better if I didn’t have to pre-wash or re-wash everything. Not much H20 & energy saving if you wash everything twice. (13 Oct)
  • Michael Lewis: “California and Bust” http://t.co/bO8YAqdB (13 Oct)
  • Profile of Elizabeth Warren, heroic defender of the 99%: http://t.co/1PqCWpHb (13 Oct)
  • As Seinfeld (stolen from Carlin, I believe) joked, “Anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone… faster than you is a maniac.” (13 Oct)
  • Yesterday, I took a detour to avoid driving behind a super-slow car, even though the detour took longer. Got stuck behind another slow car! (13 Oct)
  • RT @drnic: My only skill around the house is “computer things”. My marriage could be in trouble here. (13 Oct)
  • RT @drnic: Ah fuck. I changed the RAM in my wife’s laptop. I power it on. It just beeps at me, in a mean way. How could I have screwed that up?! … (13 Oct)
  • I long ago trained myself to re-read email before hitting “Send.” Must do the same with Twitter. (13 Oct)
  • After complaining about “its” and “it’s,” I put a typo in my last Tweet! I NEVER make that mistake! #so_embarrassed (13 Oct)
  • “The Daily Show” is fake news… so fake even it’s name is fake. TDS (and Colbert) seem to be on vacation every third week. #i_still_love_em (13 Oct)
  • RT @didip: Dennis Ritchie has passed away. RIP dmr. Thank you for C and Unix. http://t.co/Wdosar2d (13 Oct)
  • Great article: Bezos == brilliant, hardass micromanager who 9 yrs ago imposed Service Oriented Architecture on Amazon: http://t.co/2muZbnhC (13 Oct)
  • Nobel Prize-win economist Joe Stiglitz: “We have too many regulations stopping democracy & not enough stopping Wall Street from misbehaving” (13 Oct)
  • An astonishing 11-year-old mind http://t.co/6SamKrLD (13 Oct)
  • RT @mperham: Java’s core design philosophy: “Make the common case hard” (12 Oct)
  • RT @pkedrosky: QotD: “Bezos is super smart; don’t get me wrong. He just makes ordinary control freaks look like stoned hippies.” http://t.co/rkyfXgR0 (12 Oct)
  • I enjoyed this interactive programming tutorial titled “The Ladder of Abstraction” http://t.co/DmeBUb8A (12 Oct)
  • RT @jeresig: Why is Google putting time and effort into changing JavaScript when the DOM is what needs fixing? (12 Oct)
  • RT @drnic: “Had my vasectomy yet?! I can’t even find time for a haircut!” (12 Oct)
  • RT @nicksieger: SJ: “You’ve got to start with the customer exp. and work backwards to the technology.” (12 Oct)
  • RT @avdi: I agree with the “tests are a waste of time” crowd. Their tests are a waste of time. (12 Oct)
  • RT @henrylearn2rock: #GoogleDart compiles ~10 lines to 17259 lines of #JavaScript http://t.co/JrLku4Zd #fail #coffeeScript won http://t.co/LUoeth6w (12 Oct)
  • Computer warned me I have “only” 2GB free on 500GB drive. “[In] mid-1990s the typical hard disk drive for a PC had a capacity of about 1 GB” (12 Oct)
  • Who said books are dead? My wife’s already deep on the library’s waiting list for multiple not-yet-published books. (11 Oct)
  • “Unless we take dramatic steps, [USA] will be Japan… deflation, no economic growth… recessions…high unemployment” http://t.co/4izzJkc7 (11 Oct)
  • RT @tehawesome: If you love creating elaborate puzzles to torture innocent people, you have 2 career options: Bad Guy from Saw or Hotel Shower Tap Designer. (11 Oct)
  • RT @guardiantech: How the US government secretly reads your email | Heather Brooke http://t.co/SetUdlt9 (11 Oct)
  • RT @makower: Someone just sent this: 10 years ago we had Steve Jobs, Johnny Cash & Bob Hope. Today we have no Jobs, Cash, or Hope. (11 Oct)
  • RT @headius: I don’t know what I did before I could simply talk to my phone. Do you all still type with your thumbs like neanderthals? (11 Oct)
  • RT @pkedrosky: Another presenter tells me they’re telling me 3 things, tells me, & then tells me what they told me, I’m leaping on stage & throttling them. (11 Oct)
  • RT @tenderlove: Current Status: applying for job that requires 5 years of production DART experience. (11 Oct)
  • RT @jasonfried: My “Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work” TEDx talk just cracked 1,000,000 views: http://t.co/yicgTDnX (11 Oct)
  • Work’s a holiday compared w watching a 2- and a 5-year-old (who refuse to nap) 11 hours without any help. “Daddy! Daddy!” #head_still_hurts (11 Oct)
  • Finally visited Wegmans. Fabulous sub. And saved our vacation. My girl’s beloved duck fell out of car. Waiting at customer service next day. (11 Oct)
  • IHOP: I guess I must trust you that the coffee is regular, but why did you put it in a carafe labeled “Decaf”? How do YOU know what’s in it? (11 Oct)
  • Police: First Amendment protects “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” (11 Oct)
  • I’ve got both kids all day because, apparently, Columbus achieved enough to cancel schools but not enough to cancel my wife’s work (10 Oct)
  • You’re over-optimistic, but you’ll probably disbelieve this because you systematically ignore evidence to the contrary http://t.co/eaQ7HS9L (10 Oct)
  • How hard is it to learn “its” and “it’s”? And who stole all the editors? “it’s first release” “its a marked change” http://t.co/BX43zFJA (10 Oct)
  • If you like Ruby, algorithms, or AI, you’ll want Jason Brownlee’s free “Clever Algorithms” book! http://t.co/3MVbohJq & http://t.co/K4hOyq2o (10 Oct)
  • But US system IS corrupt, rigged & broken @avdi “fix the system” is an eternally handy excuse for not making yourself useful here and now (10 Oct)
  • “Rush hour is six hours of not rushing anywhere,” said Tim Lomax http://t.co/6QAWK4j0 (09 Oct)
  • Computers may take over our lives, but they’ll never dominate Twitter. Can’t say much in 140 “1"s and "0"s. (08 Oct)
  • Scene in 2031: “There’s grandpa using his KEYBOARD!” (eyes roll). Reminds me of Star Trek scene where Spock & Kirk try talking into mouse. (08 Oct)
  • Considered teaching my kids Dvorak http://t.co/bWgbseNO rather than Qwerty keyboard, but why bother? In 20 yrs, no one will use keyboards! (08 Oct)
  • RT @igrigorik: always reassuring to know that the US drone fleet is malware infested: http://t.co/pSNSwUw7 – this can’t end well. (08 Oct)
  • RT @objo: When traveling, I often wish everyone felt the need to use deodorant. #twitterisfortraveling (08 Oct)
  • RT @tirsen: The biggest legacy of Steve is that you shouldn’t just listen to your customer, you should UNDERSTAND your customer. (08 Oct)
  • @msuster wrote: “Everything I learned about being an entrepreneur I learned by F’ing up at my first company” http://t.co/imm1K3Tr (08 Oct)
  • RT @danmartell: Master list of startup tools http://t.co/UyyBE4Mw (08 Oct)
  • RT @BCAppelbaum: Your monthly reminder that 25 million Americans still can’t find full-time work. A number this report does not budge. (07 Oct)
  • RT @Nouriel: U6 definition of unemployment rate – incl discouraged workers & partially employed ones) up to 16.5%. Many new jobs are partially emply ones (07 Oct)
  • RT @AngelaBishop: Pixar, which #stevejobs helped build, has a staff policy.Leave on time every day cos you can’t make family movies if you never see your own. (07 Oct)
  • Chris Christie lobbied for a Bernie Madoff-led finance association to remove securities fraud from a consumer fraud act dailykos.com/story/2011/10/03/1022317/-Christie-has-a-Bernie-Madoff-Problem/ (06 Oct)
  • In bizarre tribute to Jobs(?), my iPad played dead this morning. It somehow drained its battery overnight and refused to start. In mourning? (06 Oct)
  • Ellison should know because he’s the roach motel king! RT @TechCrunch Ellison… Calls Salesforce The ‘Roach Motel’ Of Cloud Services (06 Oct)
  • RT @KentBeck: my favorite idea from steve jobs is it’s the programmer’s job to adapt the computer to the user, not the user’s job to adapt to the computer (06 Oct)
  • Hank Williams Jr accuses ESPN of stomping on Free Speech, but that protects against govt. Compare Obama to Hitler and people can ignore you! (06 Oct)
  • Cucumber scenarios should not be a series of steps [saying] what a user clicks [but] should express what a user does github.com/cucumber/cucumber-rails/commit/f027440965b96b780e84e50dd47203a2838e8d7d/ (06 Oct)
  • I’ve done functional programming in R without realizing it. Now I know why R programmers should resist the urge to create explicit loops. (06 Oct)
  • Neal Ford’s 3-article intro to functional thinking (ibm.com/developerworks…) taught me why functional programming != procedural programming (06 Oct)
  • RT @bbaxley: Don’t be sad because it’s over. Smile because it happened. — Dr. Seuss (05 Oct)
  • RT @tehviking: “Daddy, don’t be sad, be happy! Here, take my Teddy, it will make you happy!” #cry (05 Oct)
  • RT @michaelskolnik: “Your time on this earth is limited, don’t live someone else’s life, live by your vision.” ~Steve Jobs (05 Oct)
  • RT @christinelu: “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.” ~Steve Jobs (05 Oct)
  • RT @500startups: “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” Thank you Steve Jobs. (05 Oct)
  • RT @objo: I wonder if this is what my parents felt when they heard about John Lennon. (05 Oct)
  • RT @pkedrosky: Previous quote from this good interview with writer Michael Lewis – bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-05/michael-lewis-slams-wall-street-leadership-deficit-interview.html/ (05 Oct)
  • RT @StephenAtHome: NASA is accepting applications to be an astronaut! AAAGGGHHH!!! Ok, I just put in my own catheter. What’s step two? (05 Oct)
  • RT @qrush: Hope you guys feel like assholes for complaining about the iPhone 4S now. (05 Oct)
  • RT @Nouriel: Obama told bankers in ‘09:I’m the only 1 standing btw you & the pitchforks. Bankers got a bailout & didnt change habits.Now pitchforks on WS (05 Oct)
  • RT @kjirs: Today’s news: “There’s a phone- a PHONE- that shoots 1080p video and has ARTIFICIAL FREAKING INTELLIGENCE! I’m disappointed.” -Everyone. (05 Oct)
  • Best slime mold article I’ve read in a long time! nytimes.com/2011/10/04/science/04slime.html (05 Oct)
  • World-class collaborative filtering? @david_a_black I wonder why Twitter thinks I should follow The Rock. (05 Oct)
  • I loved Charlie Rose’s interview of Michael Lewis: charlierose.com/view/interview/11924/ (05 Oct)
  • Those of us using #NoScript (love it! thanks!) would love it even more if it knew bbc.co.uk, bbcimg.co.uk, bbci.co.uk, etc. are all related (05 Oct)
  • Excited to bequeath my massive Tintin collection to my kids, but my parents tossed them all… but kept the baseball card collection #bummer (05 Oct)
  • RT @michaelkbusch: Truly outrageous that 99% of the cookies are consumed by 1% of the monsters on PBS. #occupysesamestreet (04 Oct)
  • “CapitalistPig” hedge fund mgr (capitalistpig.com) who cries about rabble making noise smartmoney.com/invest/markets… is crazy mediamatters.org/search/tag/jonathan_hoenig/ (04 Oct)
  • The Milwaukee Brewers are in the NATIONAL League playoffs? When did they switch leagues? 1998!?!? I’m old… and out of touch with baseball. (04 Oct)
  • By “eliminated,” I mean from playoff contention, not the “Suck for [Andrew] Luck” (364 Google News references!) competition the Colts lead. (04 Oct)
  • RT @TheDailyShow: #TDSBreakingNews iPhone 4 users one hour away from looking at their phones in shameful disgust. (04 Oct)
  • RT @drnic: Big FUD week for nodejs – first its a cancer, but now its got really bad: its jumped the shark. unlimitednovelty.com/2011/10/nodejs-has-jumped-shark.html/ (04 Oct)
  • Could the 0-4 Indianapolis Colts be mathematically eliminated Oct 23? (04 Oct)
  • RT @hunterwalk: So @parislemon deciding to not answer email for a mth was just a dry run for a VC role ;–) (04 Oct)
  • “Spoiled by parents… young Chinese have been taught to take it easy, unable to overcome criticism & face challenges” cnbc.com/id/44752529 (04 Oct)
  • Computers have taken middle-skilled jobs. Low-skilled workers aren’t a [profitable] target. Who’s left? Professionals slate.com/articles/technology/robot_invasion/2011/09/will_robots_steal_your_job.html/ (04 Oct)
  • Sen. Sanders asks whether Fed will help small businesses as they helped giant banks. Bernanke: “No” (04 Oct)
  • Sen. Sanders expresses concern top 6 banks much bigger than in 2008. Bernanke’s lame response: “We’ll never again have to bail anyone out.” (04 Oct)
  • My new blog post: “Using proprietary database features in Rails via progressive enhancement” jameslavin.com/articles/2011/10/04/using-proprietary-database-features-in-rails-via-progressive-enhancement/ (04 Oct)
  • Nobel winner: “There was a Swedish voice on the phone. I knew it wasn’t Ikea. I quickly realized the magnitude of it.” businessweek.com/news/2011-10-04/scientists-win-physics-nobel-for-dark-universe-discovery.html/ (04 Oct)
  • After installing 500GB HD, I figured I was set. But that encouraged me to download video and now I’m constantly struggling to free up space. (04 Oct)
  • “Raising VC is like adding rocket fuel and for most businesses this a) isn’t warranted b) creates [bad] incentives” bothsidesofthetable.com/2009/07/22/do-you-really-even-need-vc/ (04 Oct)
  • If I pay my cable (and Internet) provider $150/month, why can’t I watch TV without being bombarded with ads? Commercial TV used to be free. (04 Oct)
  • RT @paul_irish: More on CSS shaders: adobe.com/devnet/html5/articles/css-shaders.html/ between this and CSS Filters (dvcs.w3.org/hg/FXTF/raw-file/tip/filters/publish/Filters.html/), the web is about to get so so so hot. (04 Oct)
  • RT @webtonull: A DBA walks into a NOSQL bar, but turns and leaves because he couldn’t find a table (04 Oct)
  • iOS5 synching / cloud / social integration == lock-in == hard to switch. Ironic so many developers who love pipes & loose coupling buy Apple (03 Oct)
  • Fox brags about putting protester on air but reneges because he’s so articulate/funny that viewers' heads might explode youtube.com/watch?v=6yrT-0Xbrn4 (03 Oct)
  • RT @headius: The #1 feature JavaEE needs is a new name. No matter how cool/agile/lightweight it gets, EE means “sucks” to developers. (03 Oct)
  • RT @dcancel: 10 things I’ve never heard a successful startup founder say – blog.asmartbear.com/quotes-startup-founders.html/ (03 Oct)
  • “New York” magazine has an excellent article on Michael Lewis: nymag.com/print/?/news/features/michael-lewis-2011-10/index4.html (03 Oct)
  • Obama: I can assassinate Americans but won’t say why: theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/10/the-secret-memo-that-explains-why-obama-can-kill-americans/246004/ What happened to transparency? Should presidents assassinate? (03 Oct)
  • “Brady said Seymour didn’t deserve the flag because he was trying to get the quarterback onto the grass gently.” He means: Seymour’s a pussy (03 Oct)
  • RT @peat: “MineConf” may not be the best name for a Minecraft conference. (03 Oct)
  • RT @LOLGOP: Rick Perry’s hunting camp is called “N*ggerhead”? And you thought he’d never find a way to win back the GOP’s base. (02 Oct)
  • RT @mfeathers: ‘Node.js is cancer’ bit.ly/X02l1 :–) (02 Oct)
  • RT @objo: Listening to kids free play can be both fascinating and heartbreaking as they incorporate real life into their world. (02 Oct)
  • RT @qrush: Seriously, which would you want to maintain? gist.github.com/1257579 (coffee vs js) (02 Oct)
  • My son plays in a kindergarten soccer league. Coaches carefully position players around the field, then everyone chases the ball. #too_cute (02 Oct)
  • “Money is like manure: Spread around, it helps things grow. Piled up in one place, it just stinks” (I’m not sure who first said this) (02 Oct)
  • Hit 30,000 miles on my 5-year-old Sienna today. So, I drive the equivalent of across America and back each year. (01 Oct)
  • RT @rickygervais: My tweets are now displayed on rickygervais.com to prove it’s me. Tell your friends. Not your real friends obviously. Your virtual ones. (01 Oct)
  • RT @igrigorik: “modularize your code! build everything as if you were going to open source it, even if you’re not…” – @mojombo #rubyconf (01 Oct)
  • RT @drbrain: “Who doesn’t know what sinatra is? … Ok, Leave” #RubyConf (30 Sep)
  • RT @ryanqnorth: “That book open on my bed? Oh. That’s the Enterprise D tech manual. I – I wasn’t expecting to have women over today.” #sentencesihavesaid (30 Sep)
  • S Korea on mission “to find children who are studying after 10 p.m. And stop them”; “culture of educational masochism” time.com/time/printout/0,8816,2094427,00.html/ (30 Sep)
  • Built this server on Hardy; earlier upgraded to Intrepid. Today: Jaunty, Karmic and Lucid! Will stop here till next LTS (“Pouty Penguin”???) (30 Sep)
  • I wish I were Jewish! @bussgang Just getting back online after 2 days of “Rosh Hashanna black out”… Can anyone update me on the Red Sox?? (30 Sep)
  • RT @DEVOPS_BORAT: One of last unsolve problem in Computer Science is decent wifi network at conference. (30 Sep)
  • RT @jimweirich: OH: “Why didn’t write tests, so maybe we shouldn’t either” — Arrrrrg!!! #RubyConf (30 Sep)
  • RT @pkedrosky: It’s so unsettling to be long all these things I don’t like, from the US dollar to the 30-year. Huge cognitive dissonance. (30 Sep)
  • RT @andrewjskatz: @doctorow people thanking drivers for obeying law by stopping means drivers think it’s optional: cf. ppl asking to use cc licensed stuff. (30 Sep)
  • Good news: I set up the server to auto-install security updates. Bad news: I forgot how quickly Ubuntu stops supporting non-LTS releases! (30 Sep)
  • Upgrading cloud server OS feels like Russian roulette because you must keep the Ubuntu release and slice’s kernel in sync. #feeling_lucky (30 Sep)
  • “biannual”: event occurring twice a year; “biennial”: event lasting two years or occurring every two years. Did not know that. (30 Sep)
  • If you hate biannual Ubuntu upgrades, try forgetting a server and upgrading from EOLUpgrades (help.ubuntu.com/community/EOLUpgrades/). Waiting saves no time! (30 Sep)
  • RT @doctorow: Dear London drivers: blinking yellow means ‘proceed if safe’ NOT ‘run down pedestrians’ (30 Sep)
  • Had I known “sudo rm -rf /var/lib/amavis” would free up 10GB, I would have run it ages ago! Is amavisd a cloud provider plot to make more $? (30 Sep)
  • Planned to wear programming hat today. Old, neglected server had other plans. #wearing_sysadmin_hat (30 Sep)
  • A server I administer ran out of disk space. (Doh!) My mom can’t send email, so she EMAILS me, instead of calling. Fix delayed 12 hours! (30 Sep)
  • Firefox 7!?!?! I’m on Ubuntu 10.10 (“supported until April 2012”), and it’s running Firefox 3.6! (29 Sep)
  • Must warn my kids not to wear their Red Sox hats for a while. They’re young and living in Yankees country. Could leave scars. #in_great_pain (29 Sep)
  • Readme’s “Install – Usage – Configuration” should be “Install – Configuration – Usage”! #aargh github.com/jdpace/PDFKit (29 Sep)
  • VC Mark Suster on entrepreneur vs. “wantrepreneur” – bothsidesofthetable.com/2011/01/31/should-you-really-be-a-startup-entrepreneur/ (29 Sep)
  • RT @aslak_hellesoy: If I can’t cURL it it doesn’t exist (29 Sep)
  • RT @dcancel: I’m tired of interviewing “smart” people. I want to interview people who GET SHIT DONE. #smartisoverrated (29 Sep)
  • RT @objo: What the hell is it with people who feel the need to drift right before turning left (and vice versa) while driving a vehicle? #fb (29 Sep)
  • Entrepreneurship in China – similar but different: washingtonpost.com/national/on-in… (29 Sep)
  • Wife moved external monitor to the left of my laptop. Must move mouse right/left to get to left/right monitor. Wasting scarce brain cycles. (29 Sep)
  • RT @StephenMelrose: When is the penny going to drop that the last few percent of IE6 users are actually developers doing browser testing. (28 Sep)
  • RT @josevalim: So, who wants to start Clojure4Kids with me? Oh… right… (28 Sep)
  • RT @Nouriel: This is Greek to me!!! @ckoutras: @THOMASDIMITRIS ωραίο βίντεο δημήτρη έχεις ωραία φωνή…αλλά είσαι φίλος του κόρακα @Nouriel (28 Sep)
  • OK. I’m in position! – RT @TechCrunch Video: Anonymous Calls On Protestors To “Occupy The Planet” (28 Sep)
  • RT @StephenAtHome: 100 people were bitten by piranhas last weekend in a lake in Brazil. Proving what I always suspected, piranhas love round numbers. (28 Sep)
  • RT @quamen: “Process is an embedded reaction to prior stupidity” – Clay Shirky #fb (27 Sep)
  • RT @avdi: Ever run git blame on code you know you wrote because you can’t believe you were so dumb? (27 Sep)
  • RT @danfrakes: The 500 laid-off WebOS folks combined got less severance than Apotheker. Shameful. (via @blankbaby @chuq bit.ly/oCNBRW) (27 Sep)
  • RT @StephenAtHome: The inventor of Doritos has died. Ashes to ashes, cheese dust to cheese dust… (27 Sep)
  • RT @bussgang: Truth. RT @witheiler: Correlation between startups closing a round and founders getting a MacBook Air: near 100% (27 Sep)
  • RT @yishan: Oh awesome, I just got my first Cityville spam on Google+. It’s even better than FB, because apparently you can get them from strangers. (27 Sep)
  • JavaScript’s the new Rails. Best practice in constant flux: #coffeescript, #backbonejs, #jquery, #dojo, #extjs, #sproutcore, #batmanjs, #yui (27 Sep)
  • RT @DannyPage: The @RNC just used “pivoting” in a tweet. This is your fault @ericries. The word is officially dead. #LeanStartup #Startups #RIPivoting (26 Sep)
  • RT @markbates: i don’t think my bank believed me when i said the $100 in singles i needed was for lunch money and not strippers. (26 Sep)
  • RT @fredwilson: Patents are like plaque that builds up in arteries. They restrict the flow of innovation in our econonomy. I’m worried abt a heart attack (26 Sep)
  • RT @nzkoz: I’ve got a great strategy for Yahoo to earn $25B, go back in time and don’t turn down the $44.6B Microsoft offered searchengineworld.com/microsoft/3456… (26 Sep)
  • $6.59 burrito + $.42 tax = $7.01… and 99¢ change. Next time, I’ll use credit. After merchant fees, store’s better off gifting me a penny. (26 Sep)
  • @igrigorik It’s like: Probability I win the lottery: 0.0000000000000000000000001%. Probability SOMEONE wins the lottery: 100% (25 Sep)
  • @igrigorik I JUST watched the SAME talk (loved it)! What are the odds? Read enough tweets and eventually you’ll experience something bizarre (25 Sep)
  • RT @jneira: #coffeescript in #firebug console with Acebug bit.ly/oDYvd5 (23 Sep)
  • RT @eddedmondson: This is the second time the LHC has violated causality this year. The first time is coming up in December. (23 Sep)
  • RT @justinfrench: Me: “That’s a ‘sometimes’ treat” 2yr old daughter: “Is it ‘some time’ now?” (23 Sep)
  • RT @rationalists: A Christian asked what it was like to be an atheist. I asked him if he believed in Islam. He said, “no.” I said, “Like that” (22 Sep)
  • RT @pbrane: I keep talking about moving to France, but the startup scene… it’s like they don’t even have a word for “entrepreneur” in their language! (22 Sep)
  • RT @Nouriel: Find me 1 banker/trader/professional who worked less days/hours in the 1990s when Clinton increased highest marginal tax rate from 35 to 39% (22 Sep)
  • RT @tdreyno: You know, a system that tracks your every movement for your whole life used to be called “Orwellian.” (22 Sep)
  • If Fall arrives and you switch HVAC to heating, don’t expect A/C to turn on magically just because your house hits > 80 degrees on a hot day (22 Sep)
  • Don’t run “sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdb1 bs=4K” on a 2.5TB drive from your laptop if you’re hoping to go anywhere in the next few hours! (22 Sep)
  • RT @Harri8t: Developer conferences 99.9% male… @CrisValerio says “The only place where there’s a line for the Men’s bathroom” #F8 yfrog.com/nu8uyinj (22 Sep)
  • RT @StephenAtHome: How could Greece be so short on cash? They’re making $20/day off me in yogurt revenue alone! (21 Sep)
  • RT @StephenAtHome: If Europe collapses, I’ll lose the 200 Lira I still have on my Eurail pass from 1986. Now I’ll never see Czechoslovakia! (21 Sep)
  • RT @wadhwa: Sickens me when my best engineering students become investment bankers. Instead of solving problems, their talent goes into creating them. (19 Sep)
  • Yehuda does it again! And the comments are inspired too! gist.github.com/313496e6ba9160dc6eb5 (16 Sep)
  • RT @jaw6: RT @Nobilis I just got an idea. Instead of calling it “Marriage Equality” let’s call it “Marriage Deregulation.” (15 Sep)
  • RT @petemiron: this fad won’t last. RT @stevecheney: Seeing an increasing # of startup founders pursuing monetizable, revenue-generating ideas. (14 Sep)
  • RT @JudiCogen: There is great need for a sarcasm font. (14 Sep)
  • RT @JoshHarcus: “Today I went on thesaurus.com and searched ‘ninjas’. The computer told me ‘ninjas cannot be found’ Well played, ninjas, well played.” (14 Sep)
  • RT @joestiglitz: “Ricardian equivalence is taught in every graduate school in the country. It is also sheer nonsense.” #stiglitz is.gd/3TpJ8a (14 Sep)
  • RT @StephenAtHome: If people don’t take off their shoes, how will TSA know if they’re evil? You need to get a good look at their “sole.” Twitter-Emmy please! (07 Sep)
  • RT @Nouriel: Golden Cyberfetters by Krugman nyti.ms/qxwxVX Or why any gold standard, like Bitcoin, subject to money-hoarding, deflation & depression (07 Sep)
  • RT @danlucraft: “Monetary union break-ups in history are nearly always accompanied by extremes of civil disorder or civil war.” scribd.com/doc/64020390/xrm45126 (07 Sep)
  • RT @DavidSacks: TSA patted down my 2-year-old and swabbed her hands for bomb residue. Our country has lost its mind. (07 Sep)
  • RT @gruber: Shorter Mike Arrington: “I sold my company (to a bunch of idiots) and expected to still maintain control over it.” (06 Sep)
  • RT @Nouriel: Berlusconi defense: I screwed the entire country for 10 yrs for free & no one cared. Now I screwed a few for money and they give me hell (04 Sep)
  • BN.com canceled my TouchPad order 2 ½ days after I placed it. Thanks for getting my hopes up and preventing me from buying elsewhere! (24 Aug)
  • Oops. That’s “classy family.” Note to self: Never squeeze in a last-second Tweet while running out door to take daughter to doctor’s office. (24 Aug)
  • Quiz: Your son plays for the NY Jets. Who do you cheer for? The Patriots, of course! Classfy family! nesn.com/2011/08/james-ihedigbos-family-still-rooted-for-patriots-when-he-played-for-jets.html (24 Aug)
  • RT @Nouriel: Last 3 US recessions (1990, 2001, 2007-09) caused by boom/busts caused by PRIVATE sector’s manias/panics: S&L, tech bubble, housing bubble (22 Aug)
  • If you’re a programmer and haven’t watched this GoogleTechTalk by Josh Bloch, you’re in for a treat! youtube.com/watch?v=aAb7hSCtvGw (22 Aug)
  • After Patriots' two dominant preseason games, I tried to register 23-0.com, but someone in China owns it! Any industry China won’t dominate? (19 Aug)
  • RT @Nouriel: US has crumbling infrastructure & tons of laid off workers in construction. So we need a new fiscal stimulus to build infrastr & create jobs (19 Aug)
  • Alcohol’s good for my brain! Good thing I drank two beers while watching the (unstoppable) Patriots last night! ibtimes.com/articles/200678/20110819/moderate-drinking-alcohol-consumption-reduce-dementia-alzheimer-s-risk-study.htm (19 Aug)
  • RT @Nouriel: Thus gold, like US Treas yields, is pricing risk that we go into another deflationary depression & global financial meltdown, not inflation (18 Aug)
  • RT @Nouriel: Double Dip is ahead for US & Europe: Philly Fed plunges after NY survey; Home Sales are collapsing; EU bank shares plunging & sov spreads up (18 Aug)
  • RT @pulletsforever: “I am going to extend the staff meeting so we can figure out why the team is falling behind” -My Manager (17 Aug)
  • RT @quackingduck: “The best way to manage a fledgling business is for managers to be impatient for profit but patient for growth.” blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/08/groupon_doomed_by_too_much_of.html (17 Aug)
  • RT @Nouriel: In last 20yrs Chinese consumption has fallen from 50% to 33% of GDP while fixed investment has gone from 35% to 47% of GDP. Not sustainable (17 Aug)
  • RT @nzkoz: “would you like a cuddle with daddy?” “No. iPad please” (16 Aug)
  • @pragdave I dust off my Windows laptop once/year, for taxes. Hours of service packs, security patches. Then their stupid sw & $$ for states. (16 Aug)
  • RT @Nouriel: The Second Gilded Age: share of income earned by top 1% is now back to 1929 level at the onset of the Great Depression (15 Aug)
  • RT @Nouriel: Tax rate on capital gains, dividends, carried interest:15%.On estates = 0%. Tax rate on workers with income above $34.5k is 25%. Regressive! (15 Aug)
  • @nzkoz Try an allergy pill. Since taking a daily allergy pill – cetirizine (Zyrtec) is great – I almost never use asthma medicine any more. (12 Aug)
  • RT @ChinesePod: Adorable look at how Mandarin immersion kindergarten programs actually work, at a school in Pasadena, California http://fb.me/Bl4rxRLF (10 Aug)
  • RT @TechScruggs: Every OS has its purpose. OSX, building webapps. Linux, running web apps. Windows, testing IE. (10 Aug)

Posted by James on Oct 15, 2011

Problem isn't teacher pensions; it's corporate theft of private pensions

USA Today reviews “Retirement Heist”:

Over and over, loyal, deserving employees with modest incomes have watched their planned retirement savings disappear because of corporate managers and pension industry consultants. Journalist Ellen Schultz has been writing about such shameful behavior for a long time, mostly in The Wall Street Journal. Now she has pulled together the copious, irrefutable evidence between the covers of a book. It is shocking, and demoralizing….

The book is crammed with heartbreaking anecdotes of retirees suffering (and in some cases probably dying) because of pension-related corporate greed. But the perpetrators have not been charged with any crimes.

…she writes, “What [GE CEO] Immelt didn’t mention was that, far from being a burden, GE’s pension and retiree plans had contributed billions of dollars to the company’s bottom line over the past decade and a half, and were responsible for a chunk of the earnings that the executives had taken credit for. Nor were these retirement programs — even with GE’s 230,000 retirees — bleeding the company of cash. In fact, GE hadn’t contributed a cent to the workers' pension plans since 1987 but still had enough money to cover all the current and future retirees.”

Then Schultz delivers the clincher: GE was indeed burdened by a pension plan — the plan for top executives. The obligations of that plan, for a minuscule number of individuals compared with the 230,000 lower-level retirees, totaled $4.4 billion and had drained about $573 million from the corporate treasury over the past three years.

Posted by James on Oct 19, 2011

Using proprietary database features in Rails via progressive enhancement

In theory, I’ve always liked the database agnosticism of Rails migrations. But, in practice, my migrations are PostgreSQL-specific because I usually fall back to writing SQL DDL statements since standard migrations can’t create essential database features like foreign key constraints and uniqueness constraints (which must exist in the db layer as well as the model layer or you’ll eventually have problems).

I thought of a solution that probably seems obvious to many developers, but I didn’t realize it till now.

From now on, I’ll write as much as I can using standard Rails migrations and then tack on Postgres-specific enhancements wrapped in a test that returns true if-and-only-if the database is Postgres. ActiveRecord makes it easy to test for the database adapter:

if ActiveRecord::Base.connection.adapter_name == ‘MySQL’

This embraces the same progressive enhancement principle advocated for adding JavaScript to web pages, for example.

This way, Rails migrations remain database agnostic yet also can add use proprietary database extensions. An added bonus: future developers can see the conditional code and adapt it for other databases if they wish.

Posted by James on Oct 04, 2011