Obama’s Victory Speech

Pretty inspiring stuff ! (sorry about the 30 seconds of ads, but this was the best video clip I could find):

Watch CBS Videos Online

I was slightly alarmed by the “cultish” “yes we can” chanting.

Its a great pity our own NZ politicians are so blah. BTW if you are still not sure who you are voting, why not take this quiz: http://www.pundit.co.nz/content/election-quiz it will match you with the political that best shares your views.

Obama using in-game ads

In my last post I joked about see games on billboards in games, turns out that EA already does this and Obama is using them to spread his vote-for-change message.

Obama has ads in 18 different games including Guitar Hero 3 , The Incredible Hulk, NASCAR 09, NBA Live 08 , NFL Tour and Burnout Paradise.

In Burnout Paradise the ads simple appear along the side of the road as you go whizzing by, all very sneaky and subliminal:

Obama in-game billboard

This isn't the first time Obama's campaign has used non-traditional media, earlier this month, his campaign placed VoteForChange ads on users' home pages of the social networking site Facebook.com.

Who Caused the Economic Crisis?

I really struggle to wrap my head around economics sometimes and the US (or is it a global) economic crisis is all pretty confusing (and crazy with the $700 billion dollar bail out bill getting the go ahead).

Newsweek has an good article on who is to blame, basically it highlights that there is no one specific but rather a number of guilty parties:

  1. The Federal Reserve, which slashed interest rates after the dot-com bubble burst, making credit cheap.
  2. Home buyers, who took advantage of easy credit to bid up the prices of homes excessively.
  3. Congress, which continues to support a mortgage tax deduction that gives consumers a tax incentive to buy more expensive houses.
  4. Real estate agents, most of whom work for the sellers rather than the buyers and who earned higher commissions from selling more expensive homes.
  5. The Clinton administration, which pushed for less stringent credit and downpayment requirements for working- and middle-class families.
  6. Mortgage brokers, who offered less-credit-worthy home buyers subprime, adjustable rate loans with low initial payments, but exploding interest rates.
  7. Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, who in 2004, near the peak of the housing bubble, encouraged Americans to take out adjustable rate mortgages.
  8. Wall Street firms, who paid too little attention to the quality of the risky loans that they bundled into Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), and issued bonds using those securities as collateral.
  9. The Bush administration, which failed to provide needed government oversight of the increasingly dicey mortgage-backed securities market.
  10. An obscure accounting rule called mark-to-market, which can have the paradoxical result of making assets be worth less on paper than they are in reality during times of panic.
  11. Collective delusion, or a belief on the part of all parties that home prices would keep rising forever, no matter how high or how fast they had already gone up.

No’s 2 and 11 are interesting in that we see some of this in the New Zealand housing market particularly in Auckland.

I wonder how this will all pan out? Not well I suspect given some of our local headlines:

Perhaps the only “good thing” is that cheese is going to become cheaper :)

Web 2.0 Political Party

One of the things that bugs me most about NZ politics is that there isn’t a political party that I actually like.

Every election I basically sift through all the FUD to try and identify the parties that seems less likely to screw things up. I then cast my votes and hope that for the next 3 years the winners don’t go off on some tangent and introduce a law or bill that I don’t want and I don’t have any input into.

So today I was rather intrigued to see a Google ad at the top of my Gmail account that read: “Wanted: Six Members of Parliament” with a link to www.icount.co.nz.

Turns out icount is a new political party that was established last month, that has very interesting twist: Basically members of the party to get to vote (via the icount website) on issues before Parliament. The icount MPs then present and vote in Parliament in accordance with these polls.

This allows everyone to have input into the government all the time!

I very much like this idea. For years I have been saying that this is they way a government should be run. I was thinking publicly accessible electronic voting booths, that anyone can vote at on any issues that they wanted to provide input on, but using the web is a good start.

Of course for my electronic voting booths to work you would have to issue everyone with a nice unique and secure form of identification and this would freak out the tin-foil hat wearers. Not to mention that we have all read about the electronic voting fiascos in the USA.

Which raises questions about security for icount, I did some digging around on their site but they did not seem to have any obvious information on questions such as how they avoid vote rigging, what security policies and procedures they have, how do they know that their members are real etc.

Still icount is an intriguing idea and is likely to attract people like me who would like to have more input into what goes on in our government, not to mention the “social networking” generation for who using the web is as natural as breathing.