Sunday, November 7, 2010

Swarm Intelligence

This Science Friday interview with Len Fisher, author of The Perfect Swarm, blew me away. Apparently it can be proven that (in the right domain) averaging a group of people's independant opinions is more likely to produce the best decision than asking any individual expert. Did I hear that right? I may have to read the book!

Dark Flow

The mathematics are beyond my understanding, but I still find the concepts of modern physics fascinating. If I understood this recent segment of Science Friday correctly, a phenomenon called dark flow may validate string theory. Wow!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Deepwater Horizon - There Was 'Nobody in Charge'

Here's today's follow-on investigative piece from the Wall Street Journal about the Deepwater Horizon disaster. It takes you through the scenario of what happened, based on accounts from the survivors, their testimony to the Coast Guard, various internal documents, etc.

Deepwater Horizon - BP Decisions Set Stage for Disaster

I think the Wall Street Journal does a fabulous job of investigative reporting. Balanced. Fair. Interesting. Here's this morning's piece regarding the decisions that led up to the ongoing Deepwater Horizon disaster.

As my friend commented - considering the WSJ is a mouthpiece of corporate business, it doesn't seem to have tried to whitewash BP's role or glossed over the problems. Way to go, WSJ!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Financial Crisis: Michael Lewis & 'The Big Short'

If you've listened to Financial Crisis 101, below, then you know the vocabulary: subprime mortgages, derivatives, CDOs, and CDSs (and hopefully had a good time learning it). Now... hear how some clever analysts recognized the problems with subprime mortgages/ CDOs and talked the big investment houses into creating CDSs in order to bet against them. Some of these guys even tried to warn the SEC that there was a big storm a'comin'.

Michael Lewis talks about this in his new book "The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine" which he discusses on KQED's 'Forum' radio program. It's definitely worth a listen!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Financial Crisis 102

In this follow-on interview, with Terry Gross, Michael Greenberger explains more about the financial crisis and why it was so important to bail out AIG.

Financial Crisis 101

Two years after the financial melt-down, the US is now starting to address the problems that led up to it. The issues are complex, but not beyond our ken, and I think it's critical to understand them so we can influence government to do the right thing.

In this fascinating April 2008 interview with Terry Gross on "Fresh Air", Michael Greenberger* explains in simple terms (that even I can understand) the basis of our current financial crisis and the "shadow system" of financial derivative products. After two years, it's still the best basic explanation I've heard. See what you think.

* Michael Greenberger is a professor of law at U. Maryland and a former director of Trading and Markets at the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission.