RSA Podcasts on Debt and Sustainability

The Economics of Good and EvilTomáš Sedláčekvideo | audio

This is a great presentation explaining Keynesian economic theory and the practical use of it with regard to the use of debt. Basically it is 50%, “America you’re doing it wrong” and another 50%, “you to Europe”. He makes some particularly astute points about the role of economists in reducing the variation of economic cycles versus increasing GDP growth. Through a Lord of the Rings metaphor, he argues strongly that politicians should have less control over debt because they so often waste it on small amounts of growth.

In light of Congress’ recent stance that the Federal Reserve should have more legislative oversight I’m left questioning whether they should have even less fiscal authority. Maybe the Treasury should just tell Congress how much money it has to spend, setting surpluses and deficits, leaving Congress and the President to budget within their means or increase revenues.

Enlightened EnterpriseMatthew Taylorvideo | audio

This is a really interesting lecture and discussion about corporate social responsibility and the value of customer relationships. It challenges the notion that “The role of a business begins and ends with maximizing shareholder value.” I particularly liked the angle of how businesses need to lead customers along sustainable paths. An information imbalance and a business’ greater capability to take action create a responsibility to educate their consumers about the impact of their incentives and choices. But the speaker also addresses how these actions are far from altruistic, they are prudent. Businesses should foresee that customer access to information will eventually shed light on their sustainability failings and capitalize on the ability of a sustainable brand to strengthen their customer relationship.

The speech also touches on: the free market vs. influence & marketing, choice architecture, public involvement, the risk of un-sustainability, and shareholder accountability.

We First CapitalismSimon Mainwaring audio

More podcasts and videos from the RSA

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This Blog is Prettier Than Mine

The website of Amsterdam based Nalden.net is just too cool. They post some good stuff around the area of technology, art, and creativity. But what blew me away was the great interface and gorgeous backgrounds; which makes sense if you know of any of their products, file transfer site WeTransfer and Twitter backgrounds site Kuvva. They say their goal is “to turn dead space into creative space” and they do a great job of it.

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Oh My God, I Think I Like Twitter

There was a time, lets call it September, when I thought Twitter was stupid. Signing up for Twitter seemed like opting into a spam email service. Why would I ask for people to send me all of that junk? But now while crawling my way through Indeed.com, Linkedin.com, Dice.com, PleaseSomebodyHireMe.com, and 100 copies of the same terrible resume webform / blackhole I find respite in 140 characters.

Before Twitter I didn’t truly understand that famous people are both as dumb, as catty, as perverted, and as technologically incompetent as the rest of America. Without Twitter now I would not know about the latest developments in the Middle East, or the latest gadgets, or the latest artery-clogging food truck. I wouldn’t know how my friends were wasting their time at work across town, or across the country RIGHT NOW. I wouldn’t know what JFK said 50 years ago and I would not know how much Miss USA misses In-N-Out today.

There was now way for me to learn about all the stuff my friends felt was too inane, geeky, serious, or ridiculous for Facebook. I could not laugh at the latest rantings of a fake dictator or laugh even harder when the real US State department started to follow him. There just was no way for me to jump on the same absurd internet meme as a former fake temporary president of the USA. So thanks founder who’s name I don’t remember even though for some reason he was in a TV ad, for enriching my life.

Now I still don’t see how anyone makes any money off of this thing without a reality show, but I find myself checking it more and more as time goes on. The best analogy that I can think of is that Twitter is like beer. The first time you take a sip you are disgusted. Why would anyone drink this? But all the cool kids are doing it so you pretend you’re hardcore like everyone else. Nine months later and you’re a high-functioning addict walking up to people you saw on TV and talking to them like it’s your high-school reunion.

Follow me: @malcolm_p

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Wait, I can get TV for Free?

When the feature on your cable box that you use the most is the clock, you know it is time to say good riddance. It all started with a surprise DVR fee, and since I never used my DVR I didn’t exactly see what my $20 was getting me. Then there was the end of my HBO introductory offer, so I canceled that too.

But then I realized that besides CNN and Discovery, I rarely even watch cable TV. Well that’s not true I watch a lot of cable TV, I just watch it over the internet. Between an antenna, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Instant Video I can watch or buy 95% of anything I want to see within a day of it airing, including HBO.

Of course who knows where Hulu will wind up now that they are on sale. Despite never responding to my job applications I think Hulu is great convenience and it is the reason I never learned how to use my broken DVR, thanks for that one too Time Warner Cable.

So what is my $60 supposed to be getting me anyway? Being a good MBA I made a spreadsheet (shut up Jessie) showing that I could use Amazon Instant Video for about $30 a month I could buy and not just rent most everything I wanted to see. For that $30 I may miss a show or two and have to sit through buffering and terrible commercials with cats in them, but right now that seems like a small price to pay.

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Links: Arab Spring

As you may know, I am a news junkie. I’ve followed the Arab Spring uprisings for some time now. Egypt made headlines as Hosni Mubarak was overthrown, and there have been stories trickling out since about the continuing corruption and abuse by the military government. Libya has also gotten a lot of press recently due to UN/NATO intervention. But Syria has been relatively opaque due to the lack of access from international media. What we have heard is pretty shocking especially since there is little hope of outside intervention. In light of the complexity of everything going on and the differences from country to country this is going to be a list of news sources from a variety of perspectives.

Timeline of Events – The Guardian
Mid. East Unrest Photo Gallery – The Guardian
Middle East protests: Country by Country – BBC News
Libya Crisis – BBC News
Arab Uprising - BBC News
Topic: The Middle East – CNN
Yemen – Protests – New York Times
Syria – Protests – New York Times
Al Jazeera English – Middle East
Demanding change in the Middle East and North Africa – Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch – Middle East & N. Africa
The Arabist Blog
The Lebanon Spring Blog

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