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Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age by Steven Johnson
Airbus A320, airport security, algorithmic trading, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Cass Sunstein, Charles Lindbergh, cognitive dissonance, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Dava Sobel, David Brooks, Donald Davies, future of journalism, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, Jane Jacobs, John Gruber, John Harrison: Longitude, Joi Ito, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, lone genius, Mark Zuckerberg, mega-rich, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, Occupy movement, packet switching, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, pre–internet, RAND corporation, risk tolerance, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social graph, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Tim Cook: Apple, urban planning, US Airways Flight 1549, WikiLeaks, William Langewiesche, working poor, X Prize, your tax dollars at work
At Arnold Air Force Base in Tennessee, a team of scientists and engineers use high-pressure helium gas to launch chicken carcasses at high velocity into spinning jet engines. Every make of engine that powers a commercial jet aircraft in the United States has passed the chicken gun test. The chicken gun, it should be noted, is an exemplary case of government regulation. Those dead birds being shot out of a pneumatic cannon are Your Tax Dollars at Work. For the passengers flying on US Airways 1549, those tax dollars turned out to be very well spent. Because the first lucky break the plane experienced after a flock of Canada geese crashed into both its engines was the simple fact that neither engine disintegrated. Neither one propelled shards of titanium into the fuselage; neither engine caught fire. The phrase “lucky break”—like the whole premise of a Miracle on the Hudson—distorts the true circumstances of the US Airways landing.
Interactive Data Visualization for the Web by Scott Murray
Figure 12-5. A choropleth map showing agricultural productivity by state Adding Points Wouldn’t it be nice to put some cities on this map, for context? Maybe it would be interesting or useful to see how many large, urban areas there are in the most (or least) agriculturally productive states. Again, let’s start by finding the data. Fortunately, the US Census has us covered, once again. (Your tax dollars at work!) Here’s the start of a raw CSV dataset from the Census that shows “Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places Over 50,000”. table with row headers in column A and column headers in rows 3 through 4,,,,,,, ,,, "Table 1. Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places Over 50,000, Ranked by July 1, 2011 Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011" ,,,,,,,,,, Rank,Geographic Area,,"April 1, 2010",,Population Estimate (as of July 1),, ,,,,Place,State,Census,Estimates Base,2010,2011,,,, 1,New York city,New York,"8,175,133","8,175,133","8,186,443","8,244,910",,,, 2,Los Angeles city,California,"3,792,621","3,792,625","3,795,761","3,819,702" ,,,, 3,Chicago city,Illinois,"2,695,598","2,695,598","2,698,283","2,707,120",,,, 4,Houston city,Texas,"2,099,451","2,099,430","2,108,278","2,145,146",,,, 5,Philadelphia city,Pennsylvania,"1,526,006","1,526,006","1,528,074","1,536,471" ,,,, 6,Phoenix city,Arizona,"1,445,632","1,445,656","1,448,531","1,469,471",,,, 7,San Antonio city,Texas,"1,327,407","1,327,606","1,334,431","1,359,758",,,, 8,San Diego city,California,"1,307,402","1,307,406","1,311,516","1,326,179",,,, 9,Dallas city,Texas,"1,197,816","1,197,816","1,201,715","1,223,229",,,, 10,San Jose city,California,"945,942","952,612","955,091","967,487",,,, … This is quite messy, and I don’t even need all this data.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
And then, twenty-four hours before I was supposed to be on a plane to Indianapolis, while I was in the very midst of packing a duffel bag borrowed from Todd, humming “Joy to the World,” thinking about what I should and shouldn’t say to my parents about Lowell and whether the new house might be bugged, too, the way we’d always assumed the old one was, which drove my father crazy—like we were lab rats or something, under constant surveillance, your tax dollars at work, he’d say—and was probably the real reason they’d moved. As well as trying to figure out how to ask them for a new bike for Christmas, since I’d lost the last one in a drug-induced fugue. While all this was happening, a policeman came to the door. It wasn’t Officer Arnie this time. This officer didn’t introduce himself. He had a triangular face, like a praying mantis, wide mouth, sharp chin, and a vibe of pure, implacable evil.
Nerds on Wall Street: Math, Machines and Wired Markets by David J. Leinweber
AI winter, algorithmic trading, asset allocation, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, business cycle, butter production in bangladesh, butterfly effect, buttonwood tree, buy and hold, buy low sell high, capital asset pricing model, citizen journalism, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, Craig Reynolds: boids flock, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Danny Hillis, demand response, disintermediation, distributed generation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Emanuel Derman, en.wikipedia.org, experimental economics, financial innovation, fixed income, Gordon Gekko, implied volatility, index arbitrage, index fund, information retrieval, intangible asset, Internet Archive, John Nash: game theory, Kenneth Arrow, load shedding, Long Term Capital Management, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, market fragmentation, market microstructure, Mars Rover, Metcalfe’s law, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Myron Scholes, natural language processing, negative equity, Network effects, optical character recognition, paper trading, passive investing, pez dispenser, phenotype, prediction markets, quantitative hedge fund, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, Renaissance Technologies, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, semantic web, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, Small Order Execution System, smart grid, smart meter, social web, South Sea Bubble, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, time value of money, too big to fail, transaction costs, Turing machine, Upton Sinclair, value at risk, Vernor Vinge, yield curve, Yogi Berra, your tax dollars at work
This is the Heidi Klum of bar charts; it looks so perfect that one suspects something odd or artificial is going on, like graphing the row numbers. If the guys at NASA can mix up meters with feet and misplace their $100 million babies on Mars, it is maybe just possible that we mixed up some data. However, a closer look at decile returns, seen in Figure 2.15, shows otherwise. Language Technology: Your Tax Dollars at Work The U.S. government has been busy spending your money on technologies to do this kind of content extraction and analysis for years.When the Gr eatest Hits of Computation in Finance 55 0.04 Cumulative Abnormal Return 0.02 0.00 0.02 0.04 research first started, the language researchers were most interested in was Russian. Harvard’s Tony Oettinger, who led the research, tells of inputting the English sentence “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” into an English-to-Russian translation program.
No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller by Harry Markopolos
backtesting, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, buy and hold, call centre, centralized clearinghouse, correlation coefficient, diversified portfolio, Edward Thorp, Emanuel Derman, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, family office, financial thriller, fixed income, forensic accounting, high net worth, index card, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, offshore financial centre, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, regulatory arbitrage, Renaissance Technologies, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, rolodex, Sharpe ratio, statistical arbitrage, too big to fail, transaction costs, your tax dollars at work
As she told Kotz, “I was trying to come up with a theory of what he was doing, so I was thinking was this like an accounting case, is this like cookie-cutter reserves, does he have money somewhere else? When he said he had these other accounts, I just thought let’s get the records and see if there is some way he’s smoothing earnings. I don’t even know if you can do that. I was wondering.” Once again, your tax dollars at work. Bachenheimer sent my submission to Simona Suh, an attorney on the enforcement staff. Suh had even less experience in this area than Bachenheimer; in fact, this was the first time she had led an investigation. She had never been involved in a Ponzi scheme and had no idea how to proceed. So I guess this was on-the-job training to prepare her if a really big case came in. Bachenheimer told the inspector general that she didn’t really think I was credible because I didn’t work for Madoff and hadn’t invested with him.
Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut by Mike Mullane
affirmative action, Berlin Wall, blue-collar work, dark matter, Donald Trump, Donner party, feminist movement, financial independence, invisible hand, Magellanic Cloud, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, Pepto Bismol, placebo effect, Potemkin village, publish or perish, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, space pen, Stephen Hawking, urban sprawl, Winter of Discontent, your tax dollars at work
The result was far more menacing than plain bone would have been. The face was narrow, cadaverous, with two bolts at the back of the skull looking like horns. Satan himself was riding with us. During a break in our payload work, I floated into a sleep restraint and extended my arms through the armholes, then ducked my head into the bag. Pepe and Dave taped the skull on top of the restraint so it appeared our friend had a body. (Your tax dollars at work.) They silently floated the bag to the flight deck and maneuvered me behind John Casper, who was engaged at an instrument panel. When he turned to find the creature in his face with arms waving, it scared the bejesus out of him. Later, we clamped Satan on the toilet. No doubt my desecration of the poor anonymous soul who had volunteered his body (and skull) to science has earned me a few more millennia in hell’s fires.
The Moral Animal: Evolutionary Psychology and Everyday Life by Robert Wright
"Robert Solow", agricultural Revolution, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, British Empire, centre right, cognitive dissonance, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, fault tolerance, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Gilder, global village, invention of gunpowder, invention of movable type, invention of the telegraph, invention of writing, invisible hand, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Marshall McLuhan, Norbert Wiener, planetary scale, pre–internet, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, social web, Steven Pinker, talking drums, the medium is the message, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, your tax dollars at work, zero-sum game
., bureaucratic tablets recorded the processing of 350,000 sheep, brought in by taxation and other means and used for, among other things, paying the salaries of government worker (including bureaucrats, no doubt). Government laborer were also paid in bread, fish, oil—all such disbursements precisely registered, as were the hour spent earning them by, for example, digging canals. And when the work was done, the government, like governments today, took conspicuous credit. In the Babylon of Hammurabi’s day, one canal was named “Hammurabi is the Prosperity of the People.” Your tax dollar at work. All of this bureaucratic accounting required standard units of measurement—a kind of information technology in their own right. One of the most widely found artifacts in the early Near East is the “bevelrim bowl,” which is thought to have been a measure for foods paid to workers. It shows up in Mesopotamia in the fourth millennium B.C., as do cylindrical seals, writing, and city-states.
Kiln People by David Brin
Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, index card, jitney, life extension, pattern recognition, phenotype, price anchoring, prisoner's dilemma, Schrödinger's Cat, telepresence, Vernor Vinge, your tax dollars at work
The busy worker ants who keep civilization going -- every hue and candy-striped combination -- bustled in/out of nearby factories and workshops, bearing heavy loads, hurrying to confidential meetings or carrying rush orders on spindly legs. Traffic snarled for a while, forcing us to wend around an open pit construction site, marked by a broad holo sign: CITYWIDE ROXTRANSIT PNEUMATIC-TUBE PROJECT: YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK A glimmering animated display showed steady progress toward the day when clayfolk and other cargo would zip to every part of town via an extended network of airless tubes, shuttling to any address like so many self-targeted Internet packets, automatically and at hardly any cost. Jitney and brontolorry drivers complained that the completed portions of the project were already spoiling their most lucrative routes.