Sunday, December 26, 2010

How To Deal With Zombies During the Holidays

Merry Christmas, Ye Denizens O' the Internet

Merry Christmas, all!

I'm sitting, watching the Kansas City/Tennessee game on television with my brother, his wife, and my father at the moment. My brother has his computer on his lap...well, actually...passed it on to his wife. And last night I must admit that I played a lot of Civilization IV on the computer as well...listening to nephews argue about the Wii...and later my sister and father argue about the Wii Party games. That sound like modern American Christmas to anyone else? Really, I was probably just ducking out of the 'crazy' more than being obsessed with a game.

But obviously we do live more and more of life online...via a video screen...living vicariously through sports shows, movies, video game adventures, etc.

Here is an interesting blog photo from earlier this year. I think they meant the title to be "Until the Internet do us part: how to socialize, be funny, and make friends?"

Until the Internet do us part
http://koolnews.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/until-the-internet-do-us-apart/

Reminds me of local coffee shops. :-/

Bonus thought: How do they superimpose the graphic on the football field on the television?
http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/question225.htm

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Last Night's Lunar Eclipse

I watched this in the sky while I was doing system upgrades for clients last night. It was pretty amazing to see! If you missed it, there was someone from Gainsville, FL kind enough to post a time-lapse video of the event. Enjoy!

Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse from William Castleman on Vimeo.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Colossal Kno Tablet

This new tablet concept is being aimed at students to replace essentially everything that a student would normally carry. No more books, no more binders of paper, no more laptop, and no more backpack. It is a bold idea, and from the demos that I can find on YouTube about this device, I think that they have the right idea.

Kno Movie from Kno, Inc. on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Misinformation Abounds Concerning National Policy

...especially (but not limited to) from Fox News.

According to a recent study managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, misinformation and misperceptions about public policy are disconcerting in the general public on both sides of the fence...both from people who identify with Republicans and Democrats.

For example, this is from a study in 2003 concerning misperceptions about the Iraq war:

Misperceptions about the Iraq war by network television

I've talked to a number of people in my area that believe that NPR is filled with liberal propaganda, but in their reporting, which is generally authentically investigative in nature, seems to inform the segment of the population with the least number of misperceptions. This seems to hold true for this newest study. In contrast to NPR or PBS, Fox News has the most misperceptions, but the most opinion/editorial content too. Perhaps that is also telling.

The new study, which again also finds viewers of Fox to have the most misperceptions about national affairs and public policy, does find that people who voted for Democrats also have their misinformation too. For example, these where found about Democratic voters:

  • 57% believe that the US Chamber of Commerce spent large amounts of money raised from foreign sources to support Republicans. This was never substantiated with any proof.

  • 56% believe that Democrats did NOT favor giving TARP funds. In reality there was a lot of bipartisan support for TARP, a plan devised under the Bush Administration.

  • 51% believe that President Obama did NOT increase troop levels in Afghanistan. Actually he did.


So...everyone knows that my editorials here are more progressive in nature, so just being forthright about misperceptions that exist on what would be perceived as being my leaning. But honestly, the numbers from persons who primarily watch Fox News are startling:

  • 91% believe the stimulus legislation lost jobs (it actually prevented substantial job loss, and also created some jobs)

  • 72% believe the health reform law will increase the deficit (it is actually deficit neutral, and in the future will provide a reduction)

  • 72% believe the economy is getting worse (it is actually slightly improved)

  • 60% believe climate change is not occurring (overwhelming majority of scientists who study climate believe it is changing)

  • 49% believe income taxes have gone up (in reality 97% of households received addition tax cuts)

  • 63% believe the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts (it actually did with earned income tax credits)

  • 56% believe Obama initiated the GM/Chrysler bailout (it was initiated by the Bush Administration)

  • 38% believe that most Republicans opposed TARP (it was mostly favored by Republicans in the Senate, and slightly opposed by Republicans in the House, but overall it was favored by Republicans)

  • 63% believe Obama was not born in the U.S.,or that it is unclear (his birth was announced in a local paper in Honolulu, HI, his live birth recorded in state birth records, and received the only kind of reprint of a birth certificate that Hawaii Dept. of Health offers)


The study does make it clear that these misperceptions cannot be merely based on what source you get your national news from though, as exemplified by this mention of the lowest levels of misinformation by news source:

  • most economists who have studied it estimate that the stimulus legislation saved or created only a few jobs or caused job losses: MSNBC, 65% misinformed

  • among economists who have estimated the effect of the health reform law, more think it will increase the deficit: Public broadcasting (NPR or PBS), 38%

  • the bank bailout legislation (TARP) was passed and signed into law under Pres. Obama:
    MSNBC, 38%

  • the US economy is getting worse: Public broadcasting (NPR or PBS), 34%

  • the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts: MSNBC, 34%

  • the bailout of GM and Chrysler occurred under President Obama only: MSNBC, 32%

  • since January 2009 the respondent’s federal income taxes have actually gone up: MSNBC, 27%

  • it is unclear whether Obama was born in the US—or, Obama was not born in the US: Public broadcasting (NPR or PBS), 24%

  • when TARP came up for a vote, Democrats were opposed or divided: Fox News, 21%

  • when TARP came up for a vote, most Republicans opposed it: CNN, 28%

  • it was proven that the US Chamber of Commerce was spending foreign money to back
    Republicans: Fox News, 23%

  • most scientists think climate change is not occurring or views are divided evenly: MSNBC
    and public broadcasting (NPR or PBS), both 20%


They continue by pointing out that though new sources are a large part of where we get our information, political candidates, political advertisements, editorials, and elected politicians are a big part of the equation.

Full study available here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Recap of Anti-Tax-Cut Arguments

Rachel Maddow has a good recap of Bernie Sanders' 8.5-hour presentation against the Obama/GOP tax-cut compromise, Jim Demint's arugments against, and Michelle Bachman's arguments. She also comments with Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) on the mathematical nonsense of the GOP and Tea-Party proposals.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Sen. Bernie Sanders Explains Why the Obama/GOP Tax Compromise Is Bad

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-CT), just in the first video, explains a number of things that most Americans probably don't realize about the national budget deficit, the national debt, tax breaks, average incomes, and the estate tax (the supposed death tax). This is a great couple of videos, and full of information that ALL Americans should know.

On the history of the deficit, tax-cuts, and "the death tax" (12 minutes) - Dec 10, 2010



On income inequality, the corporate bailouts, and executive incomes (13 minutes) - Dec 1, 2010



From Ezra Klein's blog, showing the tax-cut proposal's refunds per plan. You'll quickly see problem on with breaks for the top-earners.

Tax plans in one graph

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The DREAM Act Vindicated in House Debate

Representative Howard Berman (D-California) puts the controversy about the DREAM Act in perspective. The Republicans are grossly misrepresenting this bill, and trying to punish a group of people who have done absolutely nothing wrong, aside from being born of parents that immigrated illegally to this country. It is wrong to punish these people, brought here as children, for their nationality of birth. This bill would give these people the opportunity to be citizens of the country they have grown up in, this United States of America...if they will educate themselves at a college or serve in the military. Either way our nation benefits.

From The Daily Kos and C-SPAN:

Chrome OS and the Chrome Notebook

Long video...but worth it if you are interested in the Chrome Notebook.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Google's Chrome OS Notebook

These are just a couple reasons why I'm pretty excited about what Google is doing:

What is Google Chrome OS?



Using a Chrome Notebook



Chrome Notebooks: Speed



Google Chrome OS UI Concept Video

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Unlearned Lessons of Reaganomics

It is a dreadful thing for anyone to repeat mistakes in the hope that this time the mistake will actually work out. The old axiom applies here, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Our nation has already been fooled twice by the dysfunctional economic theory of 'trickle-down' or 'suppy-side' economics. The first was in the form of Reagan's tax plans, or Reaganomics, which were called "Voodoo Economics" by his own Vice-President (George H. W. Bush). The second was in the economic policies of George W. Bush.

They didn't accomplish what they were promised to accomplish either time. But the Republicans in congress are touting it yet again as the solution to our country's woes. What trickle-down economics has been successful doing is making the wealthy wealthier, and on the backs of all of rest of this nation's people in deficits and debt. Make no mistake...none of that money trickles down.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Time for the Democrats to go on the offensive

President Obama and the Democrats have been singing the tunes of compromise with the Republicans over and over again....acknowledging this 'adult conversation' that the Republicans say they want to have about the budget and other issues. But over and over again the Republicans speak out of the other side of their mouth and say how there will be no compromise and how their mission is the takedown of the Obama Presidency. Things look a lot like this:

No compromise.

It is past time to go on the offense, as U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) suggests. Democrats need to learn the lesson of what the agenda of the Republican Party truly is. They aren't at all shy about it.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

How do you know when your church is too over the top?

When your advertisement for your Christmas services say "crazy music production", "face melting lasers", or "freestyle dancing"...that's when.
:-/

Christmas UNplugged Ad page 1

Christmas UNplugged Ad page 2

Did I mention the "face melting lasers"? Ummm...Merry Christmas?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

WTF TSA

Adam Savage of Mythbusters had to go through the full body scanner, only for the TSA to miss the two 12-inch saw blades that he had in his jacket pocket. More of the mounting evidence that the full-body scanners see you naked really well, but aren't very good at spotting actual dangers.

So...they saw his junk, and missed saw blades. He mentions that his junk is offended by that. He uses profanity in this clip...just FYI.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Warren Buffett Says that Trickle-down Economics Doesn't Work

This is a very telling video from ABC News in which billionaire Warren Buffett states that tickle-down economic theory doesn't work and hasn't worked.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Philip K. Howard Interview on The Daily Show

Philip K. Howard talks with Jon Stewart about many of the problems that exist in the government today, and why neither party is offering good solutions but rather playing to their partisan garbage. Good stuff.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Philip K. Howard Extended Interview
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

20 Things I Learned About Browsers and The Web

Google just released a cool little online-book that talks about all sorts of topics about The Internet and how web-browsers work in very approachable language for those that may not understand all the lingo used by people talking about The Web. Great resource! Pass it on!

20 Things I Learned About Browsers and The Web

http://www.20thingsilearned.com/

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Republicans want an adult conversation to say, "Because I said so!"

People apparently still aren't onto the Republican strategy of not actually answering any questions about anything, but instead just regurgitating the talking points they were told to say by Republican leadership. Too bad the "adult conversation" the Republicans want is the one where they tell everyone "You are going to do this! Because I said so!" :-(

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
[Adult Spin]
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tomorrow: National UnFriend Day!

Tomorrow, November 17th, is National UnFriend Day! UnFriend the people who are not really your friends. A person cannot have hundreds (or thousands) of actual friends. Remember when you had to actually ask someone how they were or what they were up to? If you were really going to keep up with every person you've ever known, you would have found a way to do so without Facebook...but you didn't. They aren't your friends. Time to remove all those who are not really your friends.

I've been away from Facebook and nearly all the social networking sites for quite some time (Twitter, Orkut, MySpace, etc.). I appreciate all of my short list of real friends who actually have my phone number. So, since I'm not on Facebook, what will I be doing tomorrow? Tomorrow I will be dropping Google's site newsfeed, called "Buzz", that has been posting my comments, postings, videos and pictures when I make changes in Reader, Picasa, or Youtube. Tomorrow...the Buzz feed goes away.

More on National UnFriend Day...and how Facebook is actually retaliating to make it more difficult to un-friend someone:

Friday, November 12, 2010

Jon Stewart's Full Interview with Rachel Maddow

Posted this on Google Reader a while ago as well, but posting it here too just simply because this is a great interview and Jon has a lot of very insightful things to say about the media and news in our society today.

Friday, November 05, 2010

The Empty Chamber of the U.S. Senate

I was watching the program "Need to Know" on PBS tonight, and happened across a segment that I felt was quite telling of the state of the U.S. Congress right now. I've often mentioned to friends that our own congress needs to be quite a bit more like the British House of Parliament, where they have 'lively' debate, and have what is spoken contested or answered on the spot.

The reality is that most debate in the U.S. Senate, for example, is just a hand-full of people for the benefit of the C-SPAN cameras and the public record. But otherwise there isn't actually a room full of Senators listening to debate or speeches on the legislation that is being discussed. No...Senators (and Representatives too) are all too busy to participate in that kind of wasting of time, otherwise know as discussion about a bill they will need to vote on.

George Packer from the New Yorker shares his thoughts and experiences with the U.S. Senate:

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.



Click here to watch this segment on PBS.org

The Self-Contained Right-Wing Conservative Media Universe

This is something that has come up over and over again, and it is an issue that has been addressed everywhere from the comedic Jon Stewart to the press room at the White House. Fox News and other conservative pundits create quote a non-existent news item, and then they all cite each other as media sources where the issue is becoming big news.

I was listening to an interview with Senator-elect Dan Coates from Indiana by Robert Siegel where he says that everyone feels that the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is not something they want and needs to be repealed. Siegel points out that Democrats point to polls that show that at least half of the American public doesn't think that it needs to be repealed. Coates states that everyone he's spoken to does. This is another example of these self-contained conservative news.

Rachel Maddow has further very pointed examples, including some very ridiculous new reports:

National Unfriend Day

Mark you calendars, because November 17th is National Unfriend Day. It is the day to remove all those people on Facebook (and dare we say Twitter, Myspace, etc.) who are not really your friend.



Sadly I can't participate, since I'm not on any social network (unless you count Buzz....sigh....). But all of you can! Unfriend all those people who really aren't your friend, but just someone you know of or used to know of.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Monday, November 01, 2010

Comments for Missouri Voters on Prop A

This has been a frustrating number of months approaching the election, which is tomorrow, November 2nd. Perhaps for not any of the reasons that are obvious necessarily. But I feel like there has been a gross amount of misinformation spread around, and VERY little effort to correct the narrative. But before I get into that, Missourians, here is where you can look up your polling place (sorry rest of the country...you'll have to Google yours):

https://mcvr.mo.gov/elections/pollingplacelookup/

Well, right into the frustrations in the present narrative promoted by Republicans, Tea Partiers, and conservative talking heads...it seems to me that there is a very angry and paranoid view of things in the U.S. contributing to the 'collapse of American values' and other similar fictitious notions.

Proposition A will be on the ballot tomorrow for Missourians. It will basically require city populations to have to vote on measures to institute an earnings tax, similar to what Kansas City and St. Louis currently have. On the surface this would seem to be a no-brainer, just as many of the commercials are portraying it...of course you want people to have decision power over what taxation is added to them. But first you have to know what those earnings taxes presently pay for, and if the voter culture here is something that it makes sense to allow them to govern those decisions via a vote. In Missouri the general opinion is that ALL taxation is wrong and bad, and that any service that there is should be individually purchased and paid for, rather than provided for by taxation.

I really don't believe that many people actually understand how for that notion would go though. Do you really want to pay for all the utility lines and streets right in front of your home? What if the neighbors on either side of you don't maintain their utility lines or the street? Are you going to pitch in the extra? What about police and fire protection? Are you going to pay for those? What if your neighbor doesn't pay for fire protection and their home...15 feet from yours...goes up in flames? Are you going to pay extra when your insurance company charges you more if your neighbors don't pay for fire or police protection because you are a greater liability to their profits? What if people don't maintain the streets to your place of employment?

Most people don't even consider how interconnected most of the services we have in our society are. They just think of themselves and the fact they don't like all the places their taxes are going, or just simply think that taxation is not constitutional. Kansas City's City Manager has neatly broken down generally how the removal of the earnings tax will affect Kansas City here. A lot of it is fire and police protection. But there is some tourism and general services in the mix too. Imagine if you would want to head to Kansas City for the weekend if the museums or the zoo lost a good portion of their funding and couldn't remain open by ticket sales alone. What about if all the St. Louis renewal of the downtown area stopped, or if the they could no longer keep the St. Louis arch, or the zoos open because of lack of funding in the tourism budgets? Both cities stand to lose much more than merely the money from an earnings tax. They may also lose money from visitors and tourism in the process as well.

It makes more sense to vote 'no' on Proposition A, and let the people of Kansas City and St. Louis go to their city councils to make sure the city is responsible for the monies they take in with that tax, as well as the budget in general. If the people want a voice in their cities...voting 'yes' on Prop A is the passive aggressive version of action. Better to take a truly active approach...vote 'no' and get involved in your city and let the city council hear your voice in person. Nothing Proposition A has to offer will in reality be good for any community in Missouri, much less Kansas City or St. Louis, which are the only two cities that have the earnings tax in the first place.

Monday, October 25, 2010

In Memory of Paul Wellstone

I saw a couple articles from Ezra Klein about U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone from Minnesota today. This is the eighth year after his death in a plane-crash along with his wife and daughter, and five other people. He was one of the only politicians that I've met in person, and one of the only that I felt was actually worth listening to.

This interview was done in October 2002 in Minneapolis shortly before he died:



An introduction to Paul Wellstone, created by his children's Wellstone Action foundation:



Wellstone speaking against going to war in Iraq:



An example of one of his campaign commercials:



I highly recommend his book, "The Conscience of a Liberal: Reclaiming the Compassionate Agenda".

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Grassroots Tea Party? No...welcome to the Plutarchy.

The Tea Party keeps stating to date that they are made up of groups of concerned citizens that are upset about the way they see government going. All the while their movement has events and speakers appear that are funded by big-money taking advantage of the relaxing of campaign finance laws in many cases.

Similarly with the Republican party...they have classically accused the Democrats of pandering to the interests of special groups and PACs for the sake of cash. But looking at last election's funding...the Democrats raised most of their money from many small public donations. This election cycle is much like that in regards to funding. However, the Republican party and its interests in campaigning against the Democrats have been funded by just a few millionaires and billionaires, or large corporations with specific interests that now have no limits to the amount of cash they can donate.

Is this a move to have America become a Plutarchy...e.g. government of the few privileged people of wealth? Or were we already nearly there in the first place?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bank of America and GE Paid $0 in Taxes

In 2009, Bank of America's reported net income was over $6.2 Billion. GE's net income was $11 Billion. However, because tax loopholes, they paid a net of $0 in taxes. They aren't the only corporations that move their money offshore and exploit various loopholes to do this...or even to get a net refund.

For as much as Republicans and other conservatives talk about needing to lower the corporate tax rate...companies like Bank of America and GE seem to be doing better than fine. How does it feel, as an individual, to find that you personally have paid more in taxes than one of the larger companies in the U.S.?

Check out Rachel Maddow's take on this issue:

What did Wall Street do with their bailout?

What did Wall Street do with their bailout?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Friday, October 08, 2010

Christian Pacifism

Christian Pacifism is defined as Christ believers using to pacifist and non-violent means to enact change. Milestone Church is presently doing a series on Christian pacifism called "Inglorious Pastors" prompted by another series by the same name from the church that Bruxy Cavey pastors. Josh Crain of Milestone explains how the church has strayed from being pacifists as early as Constantine imposing what became Catholicism as the state religion in the early 4th century.

Great series so far! Here is the intro video for the series, and the link to the podcasts.

Inglorious Pastors from Milestone Church on Vimeo.



http://www.themilestone.org/teaching/inglorious/

Friday, September 24, 2010

Detour Into the Countryside

On my way to Des Moines this weekend there was an accident on I-35 with an ammonia spill that shut down the interstate, and caused them to evacuate the area 1/2-mile around the spill. I had heard of the spill on the radio while driving into Kansas City, so I had to find a route around the spill area.

20,000 pounds of fertilizer spill near I-35 in Mo. (AP)

What I found on my detour, though, was really beautiful country. It made the detour well worth it.

Map of my detour



 

 

Anyone else remember Pamida?

(more photos)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Friendships and Frustrations

I've often written about my thoughts on friendship, and what I would consider to be its demise in American society in general. That generality is that I don't personally believe that what most Americans consider friendship to be is actually a friendship, but rather just a favored acquaintanceship. Others from elsewhere in the world will have to comment on whether or not this is the case often times in other societies. I also won't delve too deeply into the defining all the differences, but in general (and please note that I'm speaking in general), friendship trust in ways that acquaintances do not, and friendships require maintenance and time spent that acquaintances do not.

Another defining difference between genuine friendships and acquaintances is whether or not, and to what degree, that relationship can handle conflict and frustration. Everyone has arguments and most people have had instances where they have seen a relationship of whatever sort damaged or dissolved over an argument or some underlying frustration. A strong relationship, such as a marriage, often endures many arguments over time and stays together to work things out, assuming there was no irreconcilable offense such as adultery or something of that nature. And a friendship should be similar in the respect of working things out, aside from a grievous offense that no relationship would be healthy to remain with.

If your friendship when confronted with a frustration becomes an issue of one person having a problem and the other being both blameless and uncompromising, then you likely don't really have a friendship with them. Especially if your friendship doesn't survive an argument about common things that just need a bit of understanding and honesty...then likely you have mistaken an acquaintance for being your friend.

Again, there is nothing wrong with having acquaintances, favoring some of them over others, or facing the realities of frustrations with relationships we have. My primary point is to make it clear that there is the possibility of close relationships that are not spouses or 'significant-others', and that acquaintances shouldn't be mistaken for those close relationships. No offense meant to any acquaintance that I or anyone else may have, as in this life we need you too, but the differences between what an acquaintance is versus what a friend are so often not understood, thus precluding in most cases the notion of what genuine friendship even is, and usually removing that from the table of what relationships a person can have.

My hope is that we wouldn't sell ourselves short with relationships in the short time we have on this dirt-ball in space.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Repost - Thnks Fr Th Mmrs: The Rise Of Microblogging, The Death Of Posterity

Thnks Fr Th Mmrs: The Rise Of Microblogging, The Death Of Posterity
by Paul Carr on Aug 22, 2010
http://www.paulcarr.com/thnks-fr-th-mmrs-the-rise-of-microblogging-the-death-of-posterity/

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare
- W.H. Davies, Leisure


A little over a week ago, I closed down all of my social media accounts, with the exception of Twitter, which I locked. The explanation I gave was that, in an age when everyone and their dog is sharing every aspect of their life, being a digital recluse is the new "Internet famous".

Since then, some people have criticized my logic – pointing out that if I really wanted to be a digital recluse then I'd close Twitter too. By drawing attention to myself for becoming a semi-hermit, am I not just trying to have my social media cake and eat it too?

Perhaps. The truth is that there were numerous reasons for me wanting to dial down my use of social media, but presenting numerous arguments in one column is the kiss of death to a columnist. The neo-narcissistic benefits of locking Twitter were what finally made my decision, and so that was the reason I gave. The others would keep.

This morning, though, Leo Laporte wrote a hugely revealing blog post and, in doing so, artfully proved the misquoted maxim that the medium is the message. In short: Laporte discovered last night that, due to a glitch in Google Buzz, several weeks of his updates had failed to reach either Buzz or Twitter. The kicker? Not one of his tens of thousands of followers had noticed, or cared.

Leo's response was a vow to turn his attentions back to his blog – a place where people visit specifically to read about Leo, and where they email in the hundreds if he skips an update. By contrast, he argues, people on Twitter are so busy broadcasting their own updates that they're unable or unwilling to listen to others'.

But, while I certainly agree with Leo's reasoning for abandoning Buzz and going back to macro-blogging, it was another – almost throw-away – line in his post that chimed most loudly with me.
"I should have been posting [on his blog] all along. Had I been doing so I'd have something to show for it. A record of my life for the last few years at the very least. But I ignored my blog and ran off with the sexy, shiny microblogs."

Reading that line, I instantly felt Leo's pain. When I was researching my most recent book – which mainly focusses on the events of the past three years of my life – I spent several days going back through my blog archives, plus Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and the rest – to remind myself of details and events that may have been missing from my more traditional notes. What I found – or rather didn't find – shocked me.

Throughout my earlier archives, I was able to find lengthy, sometimes surprisingly personal, posts – recounting the highs and lows of starting companies, making and losing friends, leaving London, beginning to travel around America and Europe… and countless other published episodes that backed up, and enhanced the contents of my private notebooks. But then, as I clicked forward through the archives to more recent years, something odd happened. At a certain point, the number of posts in each monthly archive dropped off a cliff, particularly where details of my personal life were concerned.

The reason, of course, was that I'd started to use Twitter for that kind of personal stuff. Unperturbed, I moved my research attentions away from my blog archives and over to my Twitter archives – and that's when I started to panic: for all the dozens of updates I wrote each month, there was absolutely no substance to any of them.

"I am learning a lot about pens." reads one update from last year. What does that even mean? "Ok, that's quite enough of all this. I'm going out", reads another. Enough of all what? And where was I going? Of course, the fact that I'm a particularly boring tweeter doesn't help, but look at anyone's Twitter account and it's the same story – 140 characters simply doesn't give enough depth or breadth to commit events, memories or feelings to the permanent record.

I'm one of the lucky ones: I hand-write a lot – and I mean a lot – of notes. Recalling personal experiences is what pays my rent so I have dozens of Moleskine books full of memories to look back on. I also have a similar number of published columns and a couple of memoirs to refer to if my recollection gets patchy.

Others aren't so fortunate. A decade or so ago, a new generation who would previously have kept diaries instead started to set up blogs. Sure those blogs may have been twee or self-absorbed or clumsily written or emo or just plain boring – isn't that the joy of a diary? – but they at least required the writer to take the time to process the events of their life, and the attendant emotions they generated – before putting finger to keyboard. The result, in many cases, was a detailed archive of events and memories that they can look back on now and say "that was how I was then".

And then along came micro-blogging – and, with a finite amount of time and effort available, the blog generation turned into the Twitter (or Facebook) generation. A million blogs withered and died as their authors stopped taking the time to process their thoughts and switched instead to simply copying and pasting them into the world, 140 meaningless characters at a time. The result: a whole lot of sound and mundanity, signifying nothing.

To argue for a mass switch back from Tweeting to Livejournaling (or Bloggering, or Movable Typing…) in the interests of the permanent record is as ridiculous as campaigning for everyone to abandon instant messaging and return to letter-writing. The fact is people are busy (or lazy, depending on your view of humanity) and for the vast majority, immediacy will always trump posterity.

But for those of us who have had reason to look back at the past few years – like me writing my book, or Leo having "woken up to a bad social media dream in terms of the content I've put in others' hands" – the realisation is slightly terrifying: by constantly micro-broadcasting everything, we've ended up macro-remembering almost nothing.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Formulaic Church Service

Anyone seen this before in real life?



update: had to change the video as the original was removed from Vimeo

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Republicans Promoting Voodoo Economics Again

Republicans during this next election cycle are returning to promotion of "Voodoo Economics", which is the notion that tax cuts, especially for the wealthy, equal economic growth as well as the tax cuts even being a non-impact on the deficit. This while historically having been debunked with TWO (count 'em) in the past 30 years, both with Ronald Reagan's track record and George W. Bush's record economically, in Reagan's case in debate against George H. W. Bush, and in Bush's case by his own economic advisors. Amazing that they would run on on this platform. Be aware that Supply-Side Economics (or Reaganomics, or Voodoo Economics...pick a name) does not work, as economic growth under such policies does NOT out-pace loss in revenue from taxation, which leads to bigger deficits...just like out-of-control spending does.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Orlando, FL - Day 5

I'm actually making this posting while my wife, girls, sister-in-law, and nephews are down at the Universal Boardwalk and Universal Studios. I'm sure the boardwalk is packed, just like it was yesterday. I had a nice time relaxing at the resort instead.

I got pretty burned today, as did my oldest daughter. I'm hoping that it is just red and not going to peel...but that is the price of being in the sun too long. I did have fun swimming with the possible crocs in the lake. :-) It is probably unlikely they would let people swim there constantly if they believed that their lake had a crocodile population in it, but still the idea of it freaks me out a bit. You can see by our photos that it didn't stop us from swimming, apparently.

We take off for the airport tomorrow early, and will be back in Missouri by late morning. It has been fun, but I'll enjoy being home again. Thanks for the fun, Florida!

Photos from today:
http://picasaweb.google.com/unconfused/20100717#

Orlando, FL - Day 5 - quick update

Friday, July 16, 2010

Orlando, FL - Day 4

Today's destination: Universal Studios, Orlando! We got a late start to the park today, which is actually a good thing because you avoid most of the mad-rush to the major attractions at the park. We didn't really wait for more than 30 minutes to anything there for the whole day, except for the roller-coaster called "Rock-It" for which we waited for about 60 minutes. It was the best time I've had at a theme park, honestly.

My favorite attraction at Universal Studios was The Simpsons ride, though I realize now that I didn't take a photo of that attraction at all. It was a multimedia sort of ride, where you get in a rollercoaster car, but it just raises into a room with a huge screen that encompasses your field of vision, and the car moves with the action. It is fantastic though how well it convinces your body that you are actually moving. Great ride!

I'm looking forward to my 'day off' tomorrow where I get to just kick back by the pool and relax (i.e. no theme parks!)

Photos for the day are here:
http://picasaweb.google.com/unconfused/20100716#

You can see videos from today, or any of my others here:
http://www.youtube.com/user/unconfused

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Orlando, FL - Day 3



Day 3 here in Orlando was quite a bit more lazy than our previous two days since I've been here. We slept in, once we woke the kids did a t-shirt painting activity here at the clubhouse, and then once we had some lunch we got on the road for Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island (click for map) which are both near Dunedin, FL just west of Tampa. I have a lot of videos for this blog entry.

Our first stop was Caladesi Island State Park, which is only accessible via boat. We took a ferry. It was nice to just lazily walk along the beach, look for shells, and have the waves rush in by your feet.



After the last ferry came back from Caladesi Island, we drove up Honeymoon Island to the north beach there had some dinner and enjoyed that beach. Of course the gulls wanted in on our food.



The ocean was beautiful here as well, and there were quite a few cool shells to be found here too. We'll be bringing back quite a few!



We rushed to a clubhouse to change into dry clothes, and got caught by huge rainstorm. I took an opportunity to try to move the car closer while the rain seemed to let up a little, but instead as I was getting into the car the wind caught the car-door, and I got hit in the forehead by the corner of the door. So, now I have an interesting souvenir from our travels...a possible scar in the middle of my forehead.





We figured we would just have to make a dash to the car and take off, because the storm didn't seem to be letting up. Sure enough...as we headed back into Dunedin the rain did lighten up significantly. Oh well. It was still a very nice day at the ocean.

Here is the link to today's photos:
http://picasaweb.google.com/unconfused/20100715#

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Orlando, FL - Day 2

Today we set off pretty early in the day to Universal Studio's Islands of Adventure. We successfully avoided the toll roads on the way and got to the park during the first hour of it being open. The crowds were already pretty intense and we waded through people just to get to Islands of Adventure, which is a 1/2-mile from the parking ramp. Here is a link to the map of the area:

Universal Studios - Islands of Adventure and surrounding area

Of course everyone's first destination was the Harry Potter area...but as we passed Poseidon's Fury and rounded into the Jurassic Park area...we could see the line just to get into the Hogsmeade's area...which was roughly 1/4-mile in length. We overheard one gentleman say that they were 7-hours from getting in!!! That was a bit discouraging at the time, though we couldn't have known his estimate was not at all accurate. There was a long line nonetheless, so we didn't get in it then, but moved on to enjoy the rest of the park.

My favorite areas were the Marvel Superheros area and Hogsmeade, which we did easily get into later in the day. The Marvel area had a great ride called The Amazing Adventures of Spider Man. It was 1/2 a ride, 1/2 a 3-D multimedia presentation...but excellent. In Hogsmeade we did the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride (also 1/2 ride, 1/2 multimedia) and the Dueling Dragons rollercoaster. Both of these were also excellent.

While in Hogsmeade we had to try the butterbeer and the pumpkin-juice. :-) It was pretty expensive, but was a nice part of the whole experience. And it made for a nice break to sit down and just rest. The whole Islands of Adventure park is a 1-mile loop, which was circled at least 5 times during the whole day. My feet hurt, needless to say. It was a fun day, but tiring...so I was glad to get back to the condo to shower and rest!

Link to all the pictures in today's photo album:
http://picasaweb.google.com/unconfused/20100714#

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Orlando, FL - Day 1


Jumped on a flight this morning on Allegiant Air to Orlando, FL.  Nice airline overall.  They don't offer any extras...no free beverage...really expensive bag checking, which prompted me to bring my lunch on the plan, and carry-on my luggage.  But the seats were comfortable and the flight-attendants were nice.

Didn't end up doing too much today...I painted a sand-dollar with the kids. It was fun....really....it really was.

After a little bit of dinner we set off to see Cocoa Beach. But we took off way too late and figured out that the sun would have set before we ended up getting there...so we nixed that idea and took a detour through the "Kissimmee Historic Downtown" where we found Pure Magic Ice Cream. Fantastic place and I definitely recommend their ice cream if you are here. Check out this video of them making our ice cream:



Tomorrow we head off to Islands Of Adventure!

update: forgot to add a link to this day's photos -
http://picasaweb.google.com/unconfused/20100713#

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Research 2000's Data Called Into Question by The Daily Kos

In a past article I know that I've referred to and reposted a survey posted by the Daily Kos from a group called "Research 2000".  The Daily Kos has called the the polls from Research 2000 into question based on additional statistical research and comparison to other polling data.  Research 2000 had enjoyed a good reputation in political circles for polling data, but Markos Moulitsas points out that Research 2000 even when given the opportunity to validate their polling data has refused to do so, and therefore he doesn't believe he can trust any of their data.

I know that I've posted Research 2000's poll concerning Republican voter.  I will, in light of this, retract my trust in that polling data.

Here is more on the issue from the Daily Kos:

BP: Record Profits -- No Cleanup Strategy

Over the past 3 years, BP has made record profits of over $58-Billion. During this same time they have spent only $27-Million on research into safer drilling. But even worse is that they defer all their spill-cleanup research to another company...which turns out DOESN'T DO spill-cleanup research at all.

And BP is currently in charge of spill-cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico. See any problem there?

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Friday, May 21, 2010

If you drive, follow traffic laws...please.

I'm sure that everywhere you may go in the United States, you'll find lots of people who don't follow the traffic laws that exist when they drive. But here in Springfield, MO I'm shocked that I see either an accident or near accident every day. And it is impossible to not see nearly constant traffic violations. I've driven in numbers of cities from Minneapolis, MN, Des Moines, IA, Vancouver, BC, Chicago, IL, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, and Detroit, MI...and none of them are as problematic as Missouri in general.

So, this is a list of things that drivers should be aware of to help with the driving problem...not just here...but anywhere.

  1. Understand right-of-way or priority at a stop-sign.  In the case of a stop-sign typically you give priority to the first person stopping at the intersection.  If two vehicles stop at the same time, yourself and a vehicle to your right...the person to your right has priority.  If two stop at the same time, yourself and a vehicle to your left...then you have priority.

  2. Come to a complete stop at a stop-sign.  No rolling stops...or just slowing down.  Stop signs mean that you need to come to a complete stop regardless of other traffic or pedestrians at the intersection.  Coming to a complete stop also helps with understanding who has priority at the intersection.

  3. Yielding on merging lanes is important to the flow of traffic on main trafficways.  If you cannot merge into traffic, then you need to yield to it.  Never force someone to slow the flow of traffic to let you squeeze in.

  4. FOLLOW POSTED SPEED LIMITS.  That is a hugely important one...and not just for safely concerns, but also for the flow of traffic itself.  Most roads or trafficways will only accommodate so much traffic in the first place, and speeding almost always makes congested traffic worse.  This issue is the worst on roads with stop-lights every few blocks.  What happens is that a bunch of people speed in their vehicles to beat the next light and end up putting more cars in an area of road than it can accommodate effectively, so congestion occurs, which is what drivers (in their mind) were trying to avoid by speeding.  Speeding usually ends up being a counter-productive action...both in terms of safety to yourself and other drivers, but also for efficiently getting from location to location.

  5. Don't tailgate.  Follow the 3-second count rule between you and the vehicle in front of you.  Pick an object on the side of the road...like a telephone pole or a sign.  As the vehicle in front of you passes it, start counting (one-thousand one, one-thousand two, one-thousand three).  If you pass the object within that time, then you are too close.  Huge numbers of accidents are caused by people tailgating when the vehicle needs to stop suddenly and there isn't enough space to react to that and also stop.

  6. Stay in your own turning lane.  This might seem like an obvious rule, but nearly every day here I see people at intersections with designated lanes for turning turn into someone else's lane, causing the other lanes to have to brake suddenly to not run into the stay driver.

  7. If there is a single turning lane turning onto a road with multiple lanes, turn into the nearest lane.

  8. USE TURN SIGNALS.  Another neglected, but very important communication tool in your vehicle.  This is important to tell other drivers where the heck you are going.

  9. The turning lane on a street is NOT a merging lane.  If you cannot turn into a traffic lane on a street, it is NOT acceptable to turn left into the turning lane and accelerate to merge into traffic.  That is for people attempting to get out of traffic to turn off the street only.

  10. At stop-signs and stop-lights there is typically a thick white line painted on the road.  This is the place where the front of your car should be stopped at.  I've seen people stop one and two car-lengths from the stop-line.  Likewise this is important not to pass just because you are turning from the stop...and wander into the pedestrian cross-walks.

  11. When turning left at a green-light without an arrow, do NOT enter the intersection until you are able to safely make the turn.  If you are waiting for that opportunity, you are not to enter the intersection.

  12. The shoulder of a road is NOT a turning lane.  Don't use them as such.

  13. Employ patience.  If you can't drive 45 MPH on a road because the person ahead of you is only driving 40 MPH...that shouldn't be a big deal.  You will only lose perhaps a portion of minute in the city from that little annoyance.  Get over it and just be patient.  Same with highway driving...as there have been numerous times when the road is two-lane at 60 MPH where I'm passed, though it was very dangerous to do so....and I end up right behind them in the next town on that road.  So, they endangered people around them for no gain to even their drive (obvious endangerment is only a detriment to everyone else too).


Anyone else have driving tips or annoyances they would like to share, along with the appropriate response to those issues?