Brain fertilizer?

They call it bullshitr: Web 2.0 Bullshit Generator. But maybe it's just a domain-specific Oblique Strategies deck?


syndicate data-driven folksonomies

design citizen-media ecologies

enable semantic widgets
oblique strategy:

Be less critical

What would make this really successful?

Your mistake was a hidden intention
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Dropping the O-Bomb

Zack Lynch: Trust, Happiness and Societal Development
The major finding [of neuoreconomist Paul Zak and Ahlam Fakhar] is that factors that raise overall levels of oxytocin and/or estrogens (which increase oxytocin uptake) affect country-level measures of trust. Most prominently, these include the consumption of healthy foods (especially vegetables and fruits), clean environments, and some social behaviors. These are independent of the economic and legal factors that support trust and therefore provide a new rationale for governments and NGOs seeking provide healthier environments in developing countries: raising trust stimulates economic growth. Lastly, the strongest factor by far associated with a country's level of trust is...self-reported happiness. While the causation is likely bidirectional, we now know that trusting people are happier.
I suppose dropping oxytocin bombs across the middle east would run afoul of chemical weapons treaties.

Previously: Paging Dr. Strangelove: Air Force considered 'sex bomb'

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The 'Long Tail' of tail: crowdsourcing pioneer Joe Francis

Volunteer-generated content. The amateurization of media. Crowdsourcing. "Girls Gone Wild" has been on the leading edge of Media 2.0 trends since the late 90s. Claire Hoffman profiles its founder, Joe Francis:

LA Times: 'Baby, Give Me a Kiss'

The "Girls Gone Wild" empire is built on a "Long Tail" of tail: a seemingly-inexhaustible population of drunken young women, seizing the momentary exhilaration of exhibitionism plus a minute or two of direct-to-video porn-fame. Camera crews with giveaway t-shirts, panties, and hats create an "architecture of participation" which generates the "emergent, not predetermined user behavior" of spontaneous public nudity -- and then more raunchy behavior back in hotel rooms and the "Girls Gone Wild" party tour buses.

And if Francis invites you back to the bus bedroom, he may even show you his version of "small pieces, loosely joined" -- whether you want him to or not.

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Everything you know is wrong, economics edition

Monopoly and oligopoly firms don't earn higher returns, according to research by Kewei Hou of Ohio State and David T. Robinson of Fuqua (Duke). Their paper, Industry Concentration and Average Stock Returns, finds:
Firms in more concentrated industries earn lower returns, even after controlling for size, book-to-market, momentum, and other return determinants. Explanations based on chance, measurement error, capital structure, and persistent in-sample cash flow shocks do not explain this finding. Drawing on work in industrial organization, we posit that either barriers to entry in highly concentrated industries insulate firms from undiversifiable distress risk, or firms in highly concentrated industries are less risky because they engage in less innovation, and thereby command lower expected returns. Additional time-series tests support these risk-based interpretations.
(HT: Paul Kedrosky)

Meanwhile, 25 years of giant trade deficits haven't changed the United States to a debtor nation, according to Harvard's Ricardo Hausmann and Federico Sturzenegger. In their paper U.S. and global imbalances: can dark matter prevent a big bang?, they suggest the United States has remained in the same net creditor position for decades:

In a nut shell our story is very simple. The income generated by a country’s financial position is a good measure of the true value of its assets. Once assets are valued accordingly, the US appears to be a net creditor, not a net debtor and its net foreign asset position appears to have been fairly stable over the last 20 years. The bulk of the difference with the official story comes from the unaccounted export of knowhow carried out by US corporations through their investments abroad, explaining why the US appears to be a consistently smarter investor, making more money on its assets than it pays on its liabilities and why the rest of the world cannot wise up. In addition, the value of this dark matter seems to be rather stable, indicating that they are likely to continue to compensate for the measured trade deficit.
(HT: Bryan Caplan)

Finally, the officially reported 2005 federal budget deficit came in around $300 billion, lower than the originally expected $400 billion. But, if tallied using the same rules that apply for private companies, the 2005 federal budget deficit was $760 billion. And, once increases in Social Security and Medicare liabilities are counted, the 2005 deficit was actually $3.5 trillion. Yes, that's deficit not debt and trillion with a 't'.

Dennis Cauchon covered the issues in his USA Today story, What's the real federal deficit? -- and the problem reaches back even to the 'surplus' years of the late 90s:

Congress and the president are able to report a lower deficit mostly because they don't count the growing burden of future pensions and medical care for federal retirees and military personnel. These obligations are so large and are growing so fast that budget surpluses of the late 1990s actually were deficits when the costs are included.

The Clinton administration reported a surplus of $559 billion in its final four budget years. The audited numbers showed a deficit of $484 billion.

In addition, neither of these figures counts the financial deterioration in Social Security or Medicare. Including these retirement programs in the bottom line, as proposed by a board that oversees accounting methods used by the federal government, would show the government running annual deficits of trillions of dollars.

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