Friday, April 17, 2009

Tools: Site's Expert Volunteers Answer Questions Free

Trying to figure out how to set up an Excel spreadsheet to crunch some city hall data? Can't understand a coroner's report or scientific paper? Surf to A volunteer expert there just wrote a Macro in Excel for me that will save me hours of time. I got my answer back in under an hour and a half, and it was free. Amazing. (Thanks, Tom Ogilvy. You rock.) This site has thousands of top experts in numerous fields waiting for your questions. You can also check out a database of previous answers and seek out specific experts based on reader ratings or their profile. The site claims there's no catch (though when you ask a question you are prompted to sign up for various commercial offers; these you can decline). I've just included these folks on my "Search" resource list in the links column on the right.

TAGS: tools, Web 2.0

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Awards: Ridenhour Prizes for War on Terror Whistleblower, Vietnam Exposé

Journalists and whistleblowers who exposed warrantless wiretapping, Vietnam-era massacres of civilians and U.S. constitutional violations in the war on terror were recognized in the sixth annual Ridenhour Prizes. These awards, established by the Nation Institute and the Fertel Foundation, celebrate truth-telling and investigative journalism in honour of late Vietnam vet whistle-blower and investigative journalist Ron Ridenhour. I first saw something on the latest awards at the blog of the Project on Government Oversight, an interesting D.C.-based nonprofit that works to expose government corruption and waste.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Depression 2.0: Your Guide to Bailout Gloom

Can't keep all the multi-gazillion-dollar bailouts, caved-in banks and failed policies straight? Was it this complicated during the '29 Crash? Don't get depressed about trying to figure out Depression 2.0. Check out ProPublica's nifty new Bailout Guide webpage. It includes search features for specific institutions and states, updated items on who got how much, in-depth features on the programs, links to other stories at other sites and "a breakdown of every taxpayer dollar spent."

Depression 2.0: $100B Hedge-Fund Bailout May Skirt Law

The Obama administration's $100-billion bailout of hedge funds skirts U.S. law in order to keep regulators from shutting down insolvent institutions, says this report from Mother Jones. "Now take a deep breath and let's boil it all down," writes Zach Carter. "Our treasury secretary hopes to circumvent laws enacted to protect the economy by subsidizing a bunch of multimillionaire investors—ostensibly to help regulators fulfill their most basic job description—in a bid to prop up bankers who cooked their books to support a gambling binge and still refuse to admit they lost. Or maybe they haven't. In a game thus rigged, there are only two sure-fire losers: you and me."

TAGS: investigations, marketfinance

Monday, April 13, 2009

Interesting: Nuclear Dumping Gave Rise to Somali Piracy

Amid the fast-growing Somali piracy epidemic, here's a different take from Johann Hari writing in The Independent. He writes of a little-known crisis of nuclear and chemical dumping that has exacerbated the woes of this already-afflicted nation. The dumping prompted Somali fishermen to take to speedboats to dissuade - and "tax" - the ships depositing barrels of waste from Europe off-shore, Hari writes. And so were the pirates born. Hari also provides some interesting context on pirates of yore.