Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Always-Imminent Collapse

My research on the history of debates about money in the US involved a lot of looking at libertarians and the gold standard. One of the things you quickly notice about libertarians is their fondness for the idea of imminent collapse. “Fiat money” is always about to crumble, and bring down civilization with it. Often […]

Is this Digitopia?

In the future, we’ll all be curators. Sean Takats’ recent post looks again at how access to information changes out work. If readers will forgive some geezerish ramblings, I’ll recall what it was like back in the early 1990s, when I could reasonably have been called a digital media pioneer, and consider how new media […]

Electrifying the Middleman

You know those ubiquitous  “wall warts” that clutter up your outlets and power strips? Do you know what they’re doing? They’re reducing the voltage and converting AC to DC. Imagine electricity as a flow of water–it starts in a pond, gets pumped out into pipes, gets used by people on the way, and returns eventually […]

I hear America Singing in a Mask

American singing–a distinctively American style, not imitating formal styles from Europe–starts with white guys in blackface. The first distinctive American style of music, known to most people through virtually any Stephen Foster songs or a song like Dixie,originated in the minstrel show. There’s really no way around it: American popular music starts as the soundtrack […]

Performing Government in the New Deal

FDR, and the New Deal, were especially good at “performing” government. They even managed to stage a gigantic piece of “security theater” the gold vault at Ft. Knox. FDR had a genius for government as theatrical performance. In 1924, Congress voted to give WWI veterans a “bonus” as thanks for their service, payable in 1945. As […]