Gillmor Gang: Batteries Not Included


Finally there’s evidence that we’re embracing energy innovation


Advancements in distributed and clean energy technologies are redefining the provision of safe, reliable, and cost-effective service within the electric utility industry. New business models are emerging to challenge the utility-dominated archetype of the past century.

But the debate over how to manage the transition to a new normal is just beginning. It is going to take a combination of political will and smart policy to avoid stifling innovation and progress.

At the end of last month, President Obama announced an energy plan that included sweeping initiatives to manage carbon emissions, accelerate the deployment of renewable energy, and strengthen energy efficiency goals. That announcement came on the heels of a motion issued a few weeks earlier by California Public Utility Commissioner Carla J. Peterman that set energy storage procurement targets for the state’s investor owned electric utilities (IOUs).

While it is, unfortunately, likely that these proposals will be watered down over…

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TED Weekends wonders if you have an inner hero

TED Blog

Yo-yo champion BLACK does, in fact, wear a special costume — all black, with a red sash. But he has not always been a superhero. In his very sweet talk from TED2013, [ted_talkteaser id=1716]BLACK reveals that as a young teenager he struggled with feelings of worthlessness — and that it was dedicating himself to the yo-yo that pulled him through it. Again as an adult, he gave up his yo-yo dreams, thinking he needed a more conventional job.

Today’s TED Weekends on the Huffington Post brings a variety of reactions to this unique talk, in which yo-yos twirl with the grace, speed and power of flipping gymnasts. Essentially, it asks: What does it take to unlock an inner hero?

Black: From zero to yo-yo hero

When I was a boy, I was at the bottom of the school hierarchy. I was a bullied child.

I loved TV programs like 

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Bitcoin will prosper — until governments or banks decide to crush it overnight


Every currency created since the advent of money 2,700 years ago has fit nicely into one of two classifications: Either it was a representative money system, deriving its worth from a link to some physical store of value like gold, silver or gemstones; or it was fiat, deriving its value from the fact that a government or central authority guaranteed it.

Bitcoin, the world’s most successful digital currency, defies this time-tested classification system: It is neither fiat nor representative. It is not fiat, because its supply is actually finite and, more importantly, it lacks any central backing authority. (Click here for a good primer on the tech behind Bitcoin). Nor is it representative, because it is not linked to anything physical. Thus the internet has (once again) spawned a phenomenon that is inexplicable via conventional economic frameworks.

As economists study the attributes of digital money, they are discovering that…

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How to: Safely delete an iCloud account from your Mac or iOS device

The Changing Nature of Charity

tom's blogs


In light of The Nonprofit Times’ annual ‘Best Nonprofits to work for 2013’, I figured it best to dust the cobwebs off of this blog and reflect on the changing nature of charity. Charity has always been a pretty boring aspect of our lives. We all know we should give generously to charity so that nonprofit organizations can put our money to good use and help the less fortunate. But that doesn’t make parting ways with our hard earned cash any easier. Why? Because blindly giving away money is about as satisfying as pouring off milk into the last of your cheerios.

The problem with charities is that there is rarely anything to show for your donation. This is why traditional nonprofits struggle to compete with for-profit companies who offer their customers tangible value through a good or service. Look at it this way; if you pay twenty dollars…

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Responding to Finance Crises: Panic and Nostalgia

the debt laboratory


The under-historicizing of finance, which I touched upon in a previous post, seems to me also related to a certain incapacity to adequately ‘politicize’ responses to the recent and ongoing crisis. Among protesters, there was a sense of euphoria during the economic turmoil of the winter 2008-2009 in Iceland, that big change was possible, that the banking crash and subsequent political crisis would open up new possibilities for a radical left. This did not happen. To the contrary: the existing left parties have both swung to the right, and the vacuum on the left has been filled by all kinds of ‘post-political’ nonsense with no pretensions toward radical egalitarianism or social justice. Reykjavík’s Best Party is a good example of this, as is the imminent success of the Pirate Party.

The consensus in Iceland following the banking crash, not least among the established left parties, is that what is…

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Prime Minister of the Internet

An Enthralling Tale of Piracy


Tyler Krug Facebook picture

Tyler Krug, who writes and records post-rock music out of his Columbus State dorm in Georgia, is huge in Costa Rica right now—and all it took was for another artist to plagiarize his music.

When you start to backtrack, the story only gets weirder.

In December of 2012, Krug released the Foreign Territory EP on his Bandcamp page. The 21-year-old musician describes the effort as nothing more than “a chance for me to share my music.” It’s a well-crafted, sonically diverse 35 minutes, and Krug’s modesty about it only makes you think that the injustice that came next couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

Until about a week ago, Krug was on a month-long stay in Italy. During that time, away from the distractions of constant internet connection, he pored back over the six songs on Foreign Territory, each a product of his last three years at…

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A Brief Family History

From Novels to Board Books

I was relaxed, nearly sleepy when he slammed into me. Maybe I should have sensed the excitement in the air.  First I felt the shock of the connection: my lip hitting an eye tooth, the swelling, and the salty, metallic taste of blood.

I heard myself shouting “Fuck” and then immediately regretting it.

My lip, now numb, continued to swell.

I looked at myself in the mirror and saw my Grandmother. She wasn’t a stranger to my Grandfather’s drunken rages. Before they even had children, she was disguising bruises and making excuses.

He even hit her at a wedding. Two friends pulled him off her, brought him outside, and “roughed him up a bit.” My Uncle, as I called him, told me about it after dinner one night. “The next morning, she put make-up on his face to cover the bruises.”

That detail made me incredibly sad. In my mind’s…

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