With the government shutdown now well underway and the effects beginning to be felt, the first debt default by a major world power in modern history since the collapse of the Soviet Union speeding toward us in what could be as little as a week, what will Americans and the world think of the US Congress that refused to pay the nation's outstanding debts, making America look like a dead-beat nation to potential investors around the world? Polls show Americans overwhelmingly blame congressional Republicans for the political standoff and shutdown. With some Republican congressmen on the record arguing that a US debt default may actually be necessary to rein in further government spending, it's easy to see why many Americans blame them. [more inside]
Conan Furloughs Non-Essential Staffers [video, 7 min]
Happy Political Clusterf*ck Day (U.S.)! In one corner: the first federal government shutdown since 1996, born of the House GOP/Tea Party faction's crusade to delay, defund, and destroy Obamacare (and the Democratic Senate and President's resolve to not do that). "Continuing resolutions" have ping-ponged between the two houses, fighting over language to cancel healthcare reform (plus a few other items, such as the implementation of Mitt Romney's entire economic agenda). National parks are closed, contractors are hamstrung, and 800,000 federal workers furloughed until Speaker Boehner drops the "Hastert Rule" and passes a bill the other branches can agree to. In the other corner, heedless of the chaos (though not without glitches of its own): the official rollout of the Affordable Care Act and its state insurance exchanges. The portal at Healthcare.gov is your one-stop shop for browsing, comparing, and purchasing standardized, regulated insurance coverage with premium rebates, guaranteed coverage, and expanded Medicaid for the poor (in some states). A crazy day, overall -- but peanuts compared to what might happen if the debt ceiling is breached in 16 days. [more inside]
If the Federal Government shuts down on October 1st, the DC city government is supposed to shut down as well. In a bid to keep the city functioning, Mayor Vince Gray has declared all city employees "essential." Non-voting Rep Eleanor Holmes Norton and the DC GOP are also petitioning Congress to keep the city open. The District's budget comes from local taxes, but needs Congressional approval to spend it's own money.
Xtranormal (previously on Metafilter) is the animation website that launched with the slogan, "If you can type, you can make movies." Millions of cartoons were produced, and a few of them were very popular. The software was even used to create animation for TV shows (such as a recurring segment on Fox's Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld) and commercials. But in recent months, the company made a series of controversial decisions and began showing clear signs of trouble. They stopped allowing users to monetize their videos on Youtube. They stopped posting new assets, shut down their user forum and blog, and frustrated users by becoming increasingly non-communicative. The site was hit with serious technical problems that made publishing movies almost impossible, and these issues went unfixed for months. Finally, on June 28th, the company announced that it was shutting down the site. "As of July 31, 2013," reads an announcement on the company's Facebook page, "Xtranormal will be discontinuing current subscriptions, points plans and existing services. Please use your existing XP points and publish and download your movies before that date." Strangely, there has been very little coverage of the site's imminent demise. [more inside]
Predicting Google Shutdowns. "In the following essay, I collect data on 350 Google products and look for predictive variables. I find some while modeling shutdown patterns, and make some predictions about future shutdowns. Hopefully the results are interesting, useful, or both." Gwern exhaustively analyzes Google products past and present with an eye to establishing what's not long for the bitverse. tl;dr? Results.
This weekend, the busiest freeway in the United States, Interstate 405 in Los Angeles, will close for bridge demolition to allow for a northbound carpool lane. The stretch handles 375,000 cars on a typical day and up to 500,000 on the weekends. This event has been dubbed "Carmageddon." [more inside]
Last fall, Minnesotans elected a Democratic governor who pledged to tax the rich and a majority Republican legislature who swore by no new taxes, period. Their first major task? Craft a budget for the next biennium that addressed a projected $5 billion shortfall. Months passed, no agreement was reached, and this morning at midnight, the Minnesota government shut down. Citizens on both sides are not pleased. [more inside]
Claude Shannon and Marvin Minsky collaborated to create the concept of The Ultimate Machine, a device capable of shutting itself off after activation. Out of the numerous and often transparent homages to the invention, a new variant has emerged, with more rigorous defenses. [via]
Days after Google Video announced the impending death of Google Video, prompting jscott to start archiving as many videos as the Archive team could and a subsequent Metafilter post on the best of Google Video, it turns out that Google has relented and removed the deadline. It will also be migrating the videos over to Youtube.
As discussed over the weekend, in less than two weeks the millions of videos uploaded to six-year-old erstwhile YouTube competitor Google Video will no longer be viewable. Though a download button has been added to each video page for easy back-up, that will only be available though May 13th, and the company will not be offering transfer service for users with YouTube accounts. The search giant has been slowly winding down the service over the years since their billion-dollar buyout of YouTube, controversially revoking purchased content (with a refund) in 2007 and disabling new uploads in 2009. The shutdown is a big blow to the web video ecosystem, as Google Video was one of the few major services to allow free hosting of long-form video, including the content for many popular MetaFilter posts. But all is not lost! Reddit users have organized a virtual potluck to share the most interesting and unique videos not available anywhere else, and the Archive Team, preserver of doomed web properties like Geocities (previously), is partnering with Archive.org to back up as much content as possible. In that spirit, click inside for a list of some of the most popular Google Video-centric content posted here over the years. [more inside]
Will there be a government shutdown? Everything seems to hang on GOP riders. But it affects more than the federal employees and contractors. For example, National Parks will close. And so will DC services. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton tells Congress off, while DC residents wonder what are we going do with all our trash?
Yahoo to shut down Del.icio.us, other sites. After a series of layoffs, Yahoo announced internally that a number of Yahoo products would be shut down, and others merged into existing features of the Yahoo main site.
The Scholar Ship, an international floating university stewarded by top universities in Morocco, the United Kingdom, China, Australia, Mexico, USA, and Ghana, have temporarily suspended all voyages due to lack of funds - mainly caused by the withdrawal of main sponsor and initiator Royal Caribbean International. The program ran two voyages in 2007 and 2008 before shutdown. Alumni and prospective students on Facebook and Ning are busily sourcing options to revive the organization, while Semester at Sea is offering spaces to students who were accepted for the now-cancelled voyages. [more inside]
Scour Exchange shuts down tomorrow morning. The fastest, most reliable source for peer-to-peer video sharing went bankrupt weeks ago, and is finally killing its service permanently. (Guess I'll have to start paying for movie tickets again.)