synthetic zero

September 30th, 2008

An incredible day … shocking, really, though not totally unexpected. I have my doubts about the RTC approach Paulson proposed; it’s possible that Nouriel Roubini’s plan of a HOLC-style program, or, alternately, a program to purchase shares in financial institutions (thereby recapitalizing them) by the government would have been a lot more effective. However, clearly, something needs to be done to restore liquidity to the markets and doing nothing, in this environment, is tremendously dangerous. The stakes are very high. Note that the amended plan does allow for gaining warrants for equity in the banks — this point perhaps ought to be clarified and extended (as it’s not clear Paulson would drive a hard bargain in this respect — but because he has to report to Congress it seems there is some incentive for him to drive a hard bargain).  All in all the plan is flawed but some plan is needed in this situation.  It’s very strange days indeed.

Meanwhile, on a totally different topic: my friend Nora Herting has a new project, www.faceofbrooklyn.com, a project she’s doing for the Brooklyn Historical Society, in which she’s taking portraits of people in various neighborhoods of Brooklyn.  An interesting project — also, somewhat frustrating, as she has had difficulty getting people in some neighborhoods to agree to be photographed; perhaps, she thinks, because they may not entirely be comfortable with a white female photographer doing an art project in their neighborhood.  She told me she’s going to try to see if she can work discussion of that element into the project somehow.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to find artists, filmmakers, musicians, etc., who want to use my giant art space (1400 square feet! 12 foot ceilings!) for exhibits, performances, rehearsals, etc.  Also, still looking for artists for my November show.

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September 29th, 2008

Finally done setting up all the templates, so posting should be happening more frequently now.

I’ve recently had a revelation about a sort of systematic pattern which has always fascinated me, but I now realize it shows up all over the place, across many different disciplines and in many contexts. The essence of the problem is ignoring the effect of hidden coupling and connections between different parts of a system — you can see this in the recent fiscal crisis (in which the ratings agencies mispriced the risk of these securities by assuming that every mortgage was independent of every other mortgage, not realizing that once the market started to contract, a whole class of mortgages was at risk), but you also see in everything from the Chernobyl accident to ecological disasters (as illustrated by Dietrich Dorner in his excellent book The Logic of Failure), as well as in human psychology, where we naively ignore the impact of the unconscious, and we assume the mind and body are independent… there are so many variations of this mistake.  What is needed is a fundamental shift in view to one in which the complex nature of systems are respected — including the nature of our own minds.  I have much to say on this subject.

Google update: I still think it is a remarkable company, but as I expected I’m beginning to see the flaws in the place. The downside of it being so decentralized, so bottom-up, is that there is a tendency for some teams to “wing it” — not enough attention is paid to certain processes and best practices that I’ve found are very useful. It’s a very engineering-driven culture, and there’s less attention paid to non-engineering design (user experience is greatly respected at Google, yet I don’t think fully understood — of course, this varies a lot by team).  I will have more to say about this later.

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September 26th, 2008

Okay, finally have the beginnings of WordPress installed and configured — still don’t have all the templates set up, but it’s a start.

Today, a coworker asked me about the ” ))<>(( ” T-shirt I had from Miranda’s Me and You and Everyone We Know movie.  I told her I got the T-shirt because I did some work on the movie: the instant messaging scenes.  I think she was disappointed that I didn’t know some secret source of Miranda July fan supplies.  I don’t know how to get access to secret Miranda July fan supplies, quite frankly.  I don’t even know how to get a hold of secret Miranda July’s, for that matter.

I had a huge revelation today while talking with Heather Anne.  I will write about it when I am less sleepy.

There are lots of exciting things happening. I can finally write about them again.

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September 15th, 2008

I have many things to write about, but what I’ve been doing is waiting until I had a decent blogging platform available to switch to (this blog has been written in raw PHP since the beginning — time to move on). I’ve finally migrated the blog to my new dedicated server and have installed WordPress (but haven’t yet configured it). Much to say but it will have to wait until I have finished configuring WordPress (for one thing, so I can have an RSS feed finally).

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