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Instapaper: Monday, Dec. 31

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Steve Lohr?s brilliant history of programming, GoTo, for a plain-English explanation of how a computer works and some background on software and hardware development. And I picked up the most highly recommended Ruby manuals: ProgrammingRuby,known as ?the pickaxe book? for the rock-pick on its cover, and _why?s (poignant) Guide, a kind of graphic novel authored by the disappeared programmer that you can read online or print out for free. 
Instapaper: Monday, Dec. 31 - Instapaper - Your Highlight Location 5087-5098 | Added on Wednesday, 20 February 13 23:52:43
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on one of his cabinets, and translates it from the Greek: the smart person accepts. the idiot insists. He got it, he says, on one of his business trips to the Ministry of Tourism. ?This is the secret of success for anywhere in the world, not just the monastery,? he says, and then goes on to describe pretty much word for word the first rule of improvisational comedy, or for that matter any successful collaborative enterprise. Take whatever is thrown at you and build upon it. ?Yes ? and? rather than ?No ? but.? ?The idiot is bound by his pride,? he says. ?It always has to be his way. This is also true of the person who is deceptive or doing things wrong: he always tries to justify himself. A person who is bright in regard to his spiritual life is humble. He accepts what others tell him?criticism, ideas?and he works with them.?
Instapaper: Monday, Dec. 31 - Instapaper - Your Highlight Location 6990-6996 | Added on Thursday, 21 February 13 10:56:41
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Just now the global financial system is consumed with the question of whether the Greeks will default on their debts. At times it seems as if it is the only question that matters, for if Greece walks away from $400 billion in debt, then the European banks that lent the money will go down, and other countries now flirting with bankruptcy (Spain, Portugal) might easily follow.
Instapaper: Monday, Dec. 31 - Instapaper - Your Highlight Location 6940-6943 | Added on Thursday, 21 February 13 10:51:32
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Here, in 2001, entered Goldman Sachs, which engaged in a series of apparently legal but nonetheless repellent deals designed to hide the Greek government?s true level of indebtedness. For these trades Goldman Sachs?which, in effect, handed Greece a $1 billion loan?carved out a reported $300 million in fees. The machine that enabled Greece to borrow and spend at will was analogous to the machine created to launder the credit of the American subprime borrower?and the role of the American investment banker in the machine was the same.
Instapaper: Monday, Dec. 31 - Instapaper - Your Highlight Location 6915-6919 | Added on Thursday, 21 February 13 10:47:27
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they needed to show budget deficits under 3 percent of their gross domestic product, and inflation running at roughly German levels. In 2000, after a flurry of statistical manipulation, Greece hit the targets. To lower the budget deficit the Greek government moved all sorts of expenses (pensions, defense expenditures) off the books. To lower Greek inflation the government did things like freeze prices for electricity and water and other government-supplied goods, and cut taxes on gas, alcohol, and tobacco.
Instapaper: Monday, Dec. 31 - Instapaper - Your Highlight Location 6901-6904 | Added on Thursday, 21 February 13 10:44:43
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For most of the 1980s and 1990s, Greek interest rates had run a full 10 percent higher than German ones, as Greeks were regarded as far less likely to repay a loan. There was no consumer credit in Greece: Greeks didn?t have credit cards. Greeks didn?t usually have mortgage loans either. Of course, Greece wanted to be treated, by the financial markets, like a properly functioning Northern European country. In the late 1990s they saw their chance: get rid of their own currency and adopt the euro.
Instapaper: Monday, Dec. 31 - Instapaper - Your Highlight Location 6895-6899 | Added on Thursday, 21 February 13 10:44:13
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The Greek state was not just corrupt but also corrupting. Once you saw how it worked you could understand a phenomenon which otherwise made no sense at all: the difficulty Greek people have saying a kind word about one another. Individual Greeks are delightful: funny, warm, smart, and good company. I left two dozen interviews saying to myself, ?What great people!? They do not share the sentiment about one another: the hardest thing to do in Greece is to get one Greek to compliment another behind his back. No success of any kind is regarded without suspicion.
Instapaper: Monday, Dec. 31 - Instapaper - Your Highlight Location 6829-6833 | Added on Thursday, 21 February 13 10:37:26
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He then started to rattle off examples (?only the ones I personally witnessed?). The first was an Athenian construction company that had built seven giant apartment buildings and sold off nearly 1,000 condominiums in the heart of the city. Its corporate tax bill honestly computed came to 15 million euros, but the company had paid nothing at all. Zero. To evade taxes it had done several things. First, it never declared itself a corporation; second, it employed one of the dozens of companies that do nothing but create fraudulent receipts for expenses never incurred and then, when the tax collector stumbled upon the situation, offered him a bribe. The tax collector blew the whistle and referred the case to his bosses?whereupon he found himself being tailed by a private investigator, and his phones tapped. In the end the case was resolved, with the construction company paying 2,000 euros. ?After that I was taken off all tax investigations,? said the tax collector, ?because I was good at it.?
Instapaper: Monday, Dec. 31 - Instapaper - Your Highlight Location 6816-6823 | Added on Thursday, 21 February 13 10:35:36
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On he went, describing a system that was, in its way, a thing of beauty. It mimicked the tax-collecting systems of an advanced economy?and employed a huge number of tax collectors?while it was in fact rigged to enable an entire society to cheat on their taxes.
Instapaper: Monday, Dec. 31 - Instapaper - Your Highlight Location 6809-6811 | Added on Thursday, 21 February 13 10:34:12
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As a result the ?objective values? grotesquely understate the actual land values. Astonishingly, it?s widely believed that all 300 members of the Greek Parliament declare the real value of their houses to be the computer-generated objective value. Or, as both the tax collector and a local real-estate agent put it to me, ?every single member of the Greek Parliament is lying to evade taxes.?
Instapaper: Monday, Dec. 31 - Instapaper - Your Highlight Location 6807-6809 | Added on Thursday, 21 February 13 10:33:58
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Somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of the activity in the Greek economy that might be subject to the income tax goes officially unrecorded, he says, compared with an average of about 18 percent in the rest of Europe.
Instapaper: Monday, Dec. 31 - Instapaper - Your Highlight Location 6791-6792 | Added on Thursday, 21 February 13 10:31:15
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at the Bronx Zoo, the primary mode of display seems to me to be eco-tainment?a fourth stage, in which giddy amusement-park tricks offer a measure of relief from the knowledge that nature is only another man-made illusion.
Instapaper: Monday, Dec. 31 - Instapaper - Your Highlight Location 4262-4264 | Added on Wednesday, 20 February 13 02:01:54
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The idea that the earth has become a functional extension of humankind, which Sanderson et al. illustrate through colorful satellite maps, is a new beginning of biblical proportion in which the old outmoded human concept of nature has no place. As inhabitants of a new epoch, which geologists have named the Anthropocene, we should properly understand nature as a sequence of enclosures like parks and zoos that provide their inhabitants with graduated levels of protection from toxins, diseases, and other man-made threats. The yearning for contact with a nature that exists outside ourselves, like the desire for love, may be hard-wired into our brains, a fossilized remnant of a prior stage of human evolution that no longer helps us navigate the world in which we live.
Instapaper: Monday, Dec. 31 - Instapaper - Your Highlight Location 4250-4255 | Added on Wednesday, 20 February 13 02:01:04
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(David Thomson?s book The Whole Equation, which appeared in 2004, provides a fascinating account of the relations of art and money at different times in Hollywood history.)
Instapaper: Monday, Dec. 31 - Instapaper - Your Highlight Location 2735-2737 | Added on Tuesday, 19 February 13 02:32:00
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the tattered language of film. Such films as Sideways, The Squid and the Whale, and Capote have a fineness,
Instapaper: Monday, Dec. 31 - Instapaper - Your Highlight Location 2688-2689 | Added on Tuesday, 19 February 13 02:28:30
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Alfonso Cuarón hasn?t brought out a movie since the brilliant Children of Men
Instapaper: Monday, Dec. 31 - Instapaper - Your Highlight Location 2659-2660 | Added on Tuesday, 19 February 13 02:25:14
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After making Capote,
Instapaper: Monday, Dec. 31 - Instapaper - Your Highlight Location 2657-2657 | Added on Tuesday, 19 February 13 02:24:53
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Alexander Payne had to wait seven years (after Sideways) before making The Descendants.
Instapaper: Monday, Dec. 31 - Instapaper - Your Highlight Location 2658-2659 | Added on Tuesday, 19 February 13 02:24:49
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Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Instapaper: Monday, Dec. 31 - Instapaper - Your Highlight Location 2648-2648 | Added on Tuesday, 19 February 13 02:23:57
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A Brief History of Money spectrum.ieee.org
Instapaper: Monday, Dec. 31 - Instapaper - Your Highlight Location 3545-3546 | Added on Tuesday, 19 February 13 12:41:52
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