Next week President Obama travels to Wall Street where he’ll demand – in light of the Street’s continuing antics since the bailout, as well as its role in watering-down the Volcker rule – that the Glass-Steagall Act be resurrected and big banks be broken up.

I’m kidding. But it would be a smart…


The holiday shopping season is in full swing. As you’re making your way through that hefty shopping list, remember to take a moment and review your finances. Pulse has put together a shortlist of money saving sources so you can spread some holiday cheer without breaking the bank.



Had a very good time talking with Brian Todd from CNN’s Situation Room about SOPA! If Taylor Hackford’s in any danger of losing his livelihood, I’ll eat my hat. But overall I think it was a fair piece, especially given how little time they had to cover such a complex issue.

2050 or Bust


on urban planning in the Egyptian desert.

Pipes being installed in Dar es Salam neighborhood of Cairo,
January 2011 © Meredith Hutchison. Courtesy of the Photographer and CairoFromBelow.org

David Sims
Understanding Cairo: The Logic of a City Out of Control

The American University in Cairo Press, 2011, 335 pp.

This past August in Heliopolis, the Cairo suburb built over desert by a Belgian industrialist in 1905, I sat in an architect’s office, a place called Cube Architectural Consultants, and heard a glowing, impromptu presentation on “Cairo 2050.” Cairo 2050 is a series of outlandish master plans and megaprojects for Egypt’s capital that the regime of Hosni Mubarak began promoting in 2008, with the help of the United Nations and the Japanese government. Its future, an earnest architect informed me gently, was “uncertain in the new Egypt.”

Imagine Dubai in the Nile Valley, if instead of building it on empty sand, futurist skyscrapers and business parks rose over what are now the packed, informal neighborhoods that today house the majority of Cairo’s estimated 17 million people. This authoritarian, outsized development “vision” would involve relocating millions to the furthest edges of the desert — areas banally termed “new housing extensions” — to make way for “10 star” hotels, huge parks, “residential touristic compounds,” and landing-strip-sized boulevards lined with a monotony of towers. It’s unlikely to happen in an Egypt after Mubarak — if it was ever possible at all, given budgets and popular resistance. Still, Cairo 2050 offers a glimpse at the Egyptian government’s approach to urban planning and policy. As David Sims, an economist and consultant who has worked in Cairo since 1974, writes in Understanding Cairo: The Logic of a City Out of Control, the Cairo 2050 project represents “a continued penchant for the manufacture of unrealistic dreams” on the part of “government planners and their consultants.”

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Looking Promiscuously



on Bruce Hainley’s experimental art criticism.

Bruce Hainley
Pep Talk 5: Bruce Hainley

Pep Talk, June 2011. 111 pp.

I became aware of Bruce Hainley’s writing on art a little more than a decade ago, while I was in college. Amid the monotony of a magazine’s review section, coming across his description of an exhibition by Ingrid Calame at Karyn Lovegrove’s Los Angeles gallery was like encountering a snake in a field. The review’s venom was poisonous and worked quickly: “The gimmick behind the project … was flimsy enough to begin with, and by now it’s just fatuous.” On the explanation of her onomatopoeic titles: “Yeah, right.” I was in Boston, hundreds of miles from an art-world center and frustrated by persistent critical obfuscation. The clarity of Hainley’s indictment was thrilling.

Thereafter, on the lookout for this Los Angeles critic’s byline, I learned quickly that the takedown was not his principal trade. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that in ensuing years I got to know Hainley a little; but more on this later.) Hainley’s occasional lashings are needles meant to puncture consensus, to deflate an overinflated reputation, and their rarity adds to their power. The majority of his reviews and essays instead grapple with the work of complex and often misunderstood artists, whether young or established. In the tradition of the great poet-critics whose work he relishes, Hainley’s mind follows his eyes. As he noted a decade ago, “I am a promiscuous looker. I will look at anything.” And once he decides that he likes looking at something, he keeps looking: Many of the artists he wrote about in the late 1990s and early 2000s are the artists he is writing about, and talking with, today. This isn’t slavish devotion to a particular style. There is little, beside Hainley’s ardor, that unites pastoral painter Maureen Gallace, abstract sculptor Vincent Fecteau, conceptual provocateur Trisha Donnelly, and object philosopher Elaine Sturtevant. It’s not what they make that appeals to him, but how they see. “I don’t mean, Oh, every person sees the world in his or her own special way!” he states in an interview. “No. I mean that, for example, Vince is one of the most visually intelligent people I’ve ever been around: he notices forms that are almost always out of sync with what a dominant mode of seeing wishes to exist.”

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Here’s a list of tools and programs that were recommended by speakers (David Dobbs, Brian Switek and me) and by the collected wisdom of the audience in the Tools & Tips for Project Workflow session at ScienceOnline 2012 this morning:


  • DevonThink
  • Scrivener (in which you…
Poll: Romney opens up 14-point lead in Fla. primary


Romney is poised to knock of Gingrich in Florida after losing to him in South Carolina. (Flickr: WEBN-TV)

Channel: Politics

Mitt Romney is pulling away from Newt Gingrich in the Florida GOP primary race, a new poll released Monday shows.

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Spotted: USA TODAY Gnome in a Rolodex. Not something you see every day.


Spotted: USA TODAY Gnome in a Rolodex. Not something you see every day.