Monday, December 15, 2008

Knowledge Building Concept

The concept of Knowledge Building begins with the first layer in a stack. Each layer contains different types of content. The first layer is commonly known as the Header. The Header contains specific information such as the Name of the Content or a Description. Successive layers below the Header are known as the Body. The Body contains general information such as a List of Content Recipients or Attachments. The last layer, known as the Details, contains the relevant information like a list of Authors, or the time of the last update.

A simple example of Knowledge Building can be found in an internet message. A message is defined by its Subject, and commonly contains a Body of text (though not necessarily as in the case of Twitter). Messages also contain other general details, such as a shared file or a list of recipients. Finally, the Details of a message include the date it was sent, the size of the message, and so forth. This model not only applies to email and "Tweets," but blogs and instant messages as well.

The process of Building Knowledge requires certain Controls like the ability to Create Content or Add and Edit existing types. Other Controls include the ability to Send Content, or Find Items within the Content. Permissions, defined in the Details, can also include the ability to Remove specific Content or Delete everything, including the Header -- effectively removing Knowledge from the System.

The final component of Knowledge Building, apart from the Header, Body, and Controls, is the Menu which displays each of the layers. These layers, or Sections, can be Grouped and Sorted in a variety of ways. The most common Menu identifies the individual Section types, though Content may also be sorted Alphabetically, by Rating, Popularity, or Revision Date.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Message from the Queen

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

(You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas , which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour,' 'favour,' 'labour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-ise.' Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels.&nbs p; (look up 'vocabulary').

2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ''like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S.< /SPAN> English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u'' and the elimination of '-ize.'

3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist,then you 're not ready to shoot grouse.

5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.

8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nati on on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth - see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.

11. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).

12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America . Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

13. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.

14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Obama Hates White People

Being an Independent is difficult in the upcoming elections. It seems like all of my Liberal friends have jumped on the Obama train, leaving the rest of us to feel like dirty Socialists who'd rather watch the world collapse than believe in something America desperately needs right now: Hope. But whenever I turn a phrase and tell them that Obama hates white people, their hope quickly turns to rage.

The funny thing is that I started off supporting Obama long before the primaries, and was easily the first one registered to his website on my block. My interests carried me to my regular haunts, such as, which listed the top campaign contributors in the order they fell off the Presidential nominations: McCain, Clinton, and in the number one slot: Obama.

While the majority of Americans raged against the bailout, it seemed as though a thick fog blocked the news that Obama was urging his fellow Congressmen to sign the $700B+ bill at the taxpayers expense -- only to cheer him on as he railed against McCain for voting the exact same way! And now, every earmark that Obama added to the bailout becomes yet another symbol of Hope for America?

What I see most clearly are the events of 9/11 that inspired America to retaliate, at any and all cost to their education, their economy, or their overall well-being in a time of great adversity. I see the Democrats using the financial crisis as yet another reason to abandon our personal freedoms, without making mention of everything we lost during the previous administration.

I can only hope that others realize the same shock doctrines being used against us once more, and ask that anyone who believes in Democracy to vote Independently in 2008. If you're fiscally Conservative, vote Ron Paul. If you're a true Independent, vote Nader. There are other options, all you need to do is look outside the Two Party system and Vote Independent. Why? Because...

Obama Hates White People.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Ben Bernanke: Economic Terrorist

It was a sunny morning in the White House. Soon after the President had his first sip of coffee a Courier entered the Oval Office. He sat an envelope down on the desk and promptly exited the room. The President opened it slowly and pulled out the letter inside, which read:

"Give us $700 Billion or we will destroy yr Governmentz."

At the top of the Hill stood Ben Bernanke, telling Congress of the Horrors should they fail to act. Come layoffs and unemployment, failing economies across the great oceans, and catastrophes much like those he has studied throughout his career -- SHOULD WE FAIL TO ACT: The American Way of Life, as we know it, will end.

And the moral of their story is that Barack Obama wants to protect Main Street from Wall Street. As the beloved Son of the Democratic Party, America will forgive his decision to place our children into indentured servitude, for our Generation will certainly not have the funds to support the bill.

But our story is much different, for we the people of the United States of America do not give in to Terrorism. Ben Bernake is an Economic Terrorist. He is guilty of Extorting the US Government out of $700 Billion taxpayer dollars.; he is guilty of Corporatism; he is guilty of Racketeering; he is Guilty and MUST BE CHARGED.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Civil Access

Civil Access is as much a Human Right as Civil Rights are in a Civil Society. Civil Access is our ability to read and write our Civil Information such as our Social Security Number, our Contact Information, as well as the sum total of every detail our Government stores that pertains explicitly to us.

That is Civil Access, and it should be viewed not only as a Right, but as a Reality that you assumed you had all along. That is what makes the Internet Banking Challenge such a wonderful meme, as it illustrates specific limitations in our own government such as the ability to view my tax account.

The best part of the Internet Banking Challenge is that most if not all of it already exists on the web. By that I mean that the debates, decisions, and contact information of our city officials is already available on the Internet. Opening the doors between this information and the public is one of the accomplishments of the Great Ralph Nader.

As for my own accomplishments, I plan to squat on until I find the time to illustrate the framework for a Civic Access Portal. I see this not only as the first step in achieving a truly Open Government, but more importantly, a realistic step into our current form of Government. (Note the US on the back of the domain name. And please feel free to contact or comment to get the thoughts rolling!)

The Internet Banking Challenge

Last night I drove down to see Ralph Nader speak in Cincinnati, Ohio. I had seen most of his motivational speech on the Internet when they webcast live from the RNC, but at the end of the question and answer session I had the opportunity to ask for his thoughts on Open Government. He called himself an Open Candidate. Looking back at his track record with the Freedom of Information Act, etc., I can see his point.

But I think Ralph Nader, a man who is certainly wise beyond his numerous years, missed the point about Open Government -- in much the same way that many of us miss the point about Open Government. What IS Open Government? Answer: A Government founded on the principles of Open Source software development. WTF does that mean? You want us to use Open Source software? Can do. VOTE FOR RALPH NADER!

My gf and I got home and dumb o'clock in the morning and talked until half past stupid about Open Government. Somehow our ramblings lead me to compare Open Government to Online Banking, as it not only made for a wonderful example of the online access, but connected to places in the real world through public centers, telephones, and snail mail. In short, it was something people were familiar with.

So here's a challenge to anyone with an Internet bank account: DO NOT ACCESS your online account for FOUR YEARS. Furthermore, do not enter a banking institution more than ONE PER YEAR. And finally, NO ATMS. If you've got an emergency? USE THE PHONE.

That should give you a glimpse into your level of Civil Access.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Open Intelligence

I've got a hella long stretch ahead of me to convert an enormous folder full of Silverlight controls over to the new design scheme (due in 2 weeks, I might add). As a Designer, imagine the unbearable: measuring 26 pixels high, 20 pixels for the text (12pt user interface font regular), 6 pixels down, 2 pixels up -- and that's just to correct the header MULTIPLIED BY god knows how many subcontrols. And then, of course, there's the actual skinning of each element individually. In two weeks.

And two steps into the process (after measuring the block headers, apparently) I realized the simple effect reducing a block header size had on the overall appearance of the page: The content visually jumped out ahead of the headers! And when I saw the content jump out at me I realized that I was building a more "intelligent" interface. Not the kind to fear (as in the "Artificial Intelligence" sense), but in the "learning" sense of the word, as it shows you what you seek to know.

This is when I hit my tangent: Wondering how we have come to fear the intelligence of a machine? Shouldn't we simply look at our computers as something which extends our capabilities? To look towards a point in time at which the machines no longer need us is to imagine a human species that no longer needs its planet. Life without trees wouldn't necessitate a Google search for trees. They'd be more of a Wikipedia entry that rarely gets updated as little happens in a world that no longer exists.

In today's world, our technology is transforming into a global network. The corporations are enforcing "network policies" to enforce their restrictions on our rights. This mentality is the atom bomb of our generation -- with great power in the hands of a select few -- power that could begin vast global wars and end whole countries by shutting down their electrical grid, destroying their knowledge base, thus sending their civilizations back into the dark ages with one strike.

I'm glad to be doing my part to open this knowledge from the very beginning of the Web 2.0. While our software works to keep its content safe from those who haven't gained appropriate access, it also promotes sharing amongst its users, and a sense of community throughout the digital reflection of their work days. But I'm even more happy to see my interface shaping out to an "Open Intelligence" that will hopefully one day rule the world! :D

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Checking Out Flock (Once Again)

I remember hearing about the concept of a Social Browser more than a year ago when I discovered Flock. At that point it mainly felt like Firefox with a crazy looking skin, but that was what simply rumbled under the hood.

Flock's big idea was to integrate all of these "Web 2.0" tools into a common framework. In other words: when you wanted to post a blog you'd click the Post Blog button (a cool little quill on the toolbar). If you didn't have an account set up, Flock would direct you to a common list of blogs. The same would go for email, pictures, and even friends on your favorite social network. In theory, anyways.

The first few releases of Flock accomplish little more than a list of Firefox add-ons (along with a really cool skin). But the cool list of add-ons didn't include my personal list of add-ons, making it unnecessary to go through the hassle of learning another browser -- especially when Firefox already accomplished everything I required from my browser.

Just moments ago I noticed I noticed the link at the bottom of Digg that lead to the new version of Flock. After a quick installation I was up and running, and discovered that integrating all my favorite add-ons was easier than setting up Firefox. For example, to write this blog all I needed to do was hit the scribe button (described above) and here you have a very review of Flock that can be summarized in a word:

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Quest for the Holy Blue Ball

My week began with a journey into another dimension that I've yet to fully escape. After scrawling some sigils on the whiteboard that barely represented an Internet profile I chanted for two hours about online relationships and game theory. At first it felt as though I had simply experienced a memory dump, but slowly I began to see the energy that we share amongst ourselves. It was then that I realized that I was on a Quest to find the Holy Blue Ball.

To be honest: I've already discovered the Holy Blue Ball. I say Holy because it looks like a loosely bound ball of brilliantly blue rubber bands of light -- or more precisely, the faint shadow of a Holy Blue Ball (heretofore referred to as the Ball). I have no idea where the Ball came from. What I do know is that when I visualize the Blue Ball and shape it into a thought, I can then attach the Ball to an email or a blog and share my experience with the viewer.

Note the key word above: Experience. Imagine reading a series of sentences exchanged between two people. Now, imagine the last argument in your relationship. This experience is what connects the ephemeral world of art and ideas with the tangible world we live in. Without the experience we simply have a list of words that have no meaning beyond their definition. This Experience is the Blue Ball of Light that we shape and share through communication. Or, at least, it used to.

As it happened, when the process of transmitting information required a recording device -- such as paper and pens, audio recordings, et al -- these records were then passed on to their respective recipients. Not much changed when computers came online. Documents were written and sent to the right people, who filed the paperwork until it was necessary to retrieve it. Then things got lost; others, stolen. And Bureaucracy set in and the world went to Hell because nobody loves paperwork.

What is missing from the equation above is that Ball of Light. There is no community; no network. There is simply lines of data processed by drones. The entire point of communicating, to share an experience, has been lost to a paradigm that favors efficiency over quality. Without sharing experiences with one another we have no quality to offer. Thankfully, we have social and peer-to-peer networking to thank for turning our old operating systems into new cooperating systems.

So here's the question: What is this Blue Ball of Light that I hold in my hands? I know that it can share experiences with others across a variety of mediums, and helps to create a bond of community between those who witness it. But what is it called, and how simply can it be described so that everyone says: "Of course I know what you're talking about! Why would anyone communicate without it?"

(Any and all feedback would be greatly appreciated.)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Collaborative Documentation for Dummies

Given the fact that our world largely remains dependent on the details written on pieces of paper, it is easy to see how this model was initially applied to the world of computing. When we received a piece of paper on our desk we immediately typed the information into a computer form and sent it to someone else for approval -- at first, by transferring them to a portable disk, ultimately relying upon the Internet to pass along the relevant data.

The problem is that this method of transferring documents not only runs contrary to the principles of the Internet, but creates countless points of inefficiency along the way. The originator could mistype the details written on the paper, the recipient could fail to see the message. With so many copies of the same information floating around the network it becomes difficult to track the end result, or to ensure that outside parties receive these results as accurately as possible.

Looking at the data in a stream of information is a more accurate depiction of the Internet as its creators intended it to be: a distributed network where every bit of knowledge flowed freely, so that if one node in the network collapsed, the others would pick up the slack. Some call it Socialism, while others call it the Electrical Grid. When you're talking about pieces of paper with bits of information that gets passed around the network: I call it Collaborative Documentation.

Unfortunately, Collaborative Documentation sounds very clinical, and hardly begins to capture the effect of sites such as YouTube, where "Collaborative Documentation" has produced an information and entertainment collective unlike no other. The same goes for Wikipedia, which has begun to transform both knowledge and education as we once perceived it in the hands of accomplished scholars. Collaborative Documentation is a major shift -- strangely enough -- in the most minor of ways.

I say 'minor' due to the size of the changes required to shift from the 'document transfer' perspective to collaborative documentation. The process is identical, as the same people are required to sign and pass the details as before, but instead of storing the document locally, you distribute it across the network so that anyone can access the information at any time, given the proper permissions.

The biggest changes would occur to the user, who is transformed from a single login name and password to a fully functioning entity on the network -- complete with a list of personalized responsibilities and an array of results, along with connections to others in the network. At once, it seems as if the simple act of acknowledging the actions of the user gives life to a network of 1's and 0's.

Which leads me to believe that if something so integral to all living matter exists in the activity of Collaborative Documentation, then a concept less clinical is necessary to capture its meaning. Just as blog and email have risen to the level of recognition as to be easily understood by the masses, so too must these documents and forms transform to become part of a shared experience.

(If you've got any ideas for a word or two better than Collaborative Documentation, please let me know!)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Draft Lessig for Congress!

I phased out during one of the presidential updates on NPR while driving home from work, and dreamt about running for office under the banner of the Open Party. In my head I formulated the perfect website with American colors describing all the changes to the way our government works. I watched little videos showing voters how easy it was to see where there money was going and how to elect a change in the amounts. Everywhere the taglines read: "A vote for the Open Party is a vote for YOU!"

The plan was to run for a local post like a school board member or possibly the mayor of a small town who puts the open technology in place which allows the residents to directly control their laws and finances. Once that complicated little line becomes razor clear the media and Internet stardom would act as a catalyst to carry the Open Party into Congress, and then maybe -- just maybe, The President: The Man who would offer states complete control over their economies, and give the United States back to the American People. It's a mighty big plan.

But not for the likes of Lawrence Lessig: The Man who created Creative Commons, and sits on the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Software Freedom Organization. A God of the Open Movement! Lately he's hit the news by exploring a bid for Congress -- thereby skipping the whole small town mayor route and diving directly into the major leagues. And while the Open Party may not have a shot at the Presidency in 2008, we might end up with a President who is very enthusiastic about modern technology.

The catch is the illustrious Dr. Lessig isn't sure if he wishes to run in the special election. In the true spirit of the Open Movement he is asking all of us to show our support for his campaign. This means that each of us have to blog about it, join the Facebook group, Digg the articles, and email the links to our friends. This is such an important moment for the Open Party -- even if the party is simply a figment of my imagination. The changes to our software is real, as are the changes to the spread of information and file sharing.

Isn't it time we change the Government?

Tell Lawrence Lessig you support the Open Party.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Am I Jaa or Nix?

A short time ago I overheard that someone was looking to purchase the domain for Am I Hot or Not? Up until then I hadn't considered the site to be anything more than legendary. To be sure, the value of knowing whether one is hot or not was of little concern to the vast majority of us -- with the exception of AOL, who immediately began adding the feature all across their network. But the simple concept of 'yea or nay' became apparent on the Internet, thanks to a bunch of guys who liked looking at hot chicks.

This small step in the evolution of The Information Highway is an important one, as the ability to define a simple value of 'yes' or 'no' underlies the construction of all knowledge -- in our minds, in our debates, in our governance of societies. Connecting this process to simple thumbs up/down controls on the web extends the model beyond ourselves into the social wealth of the masses. But with all the examples of Am I Digg or Reddit? on the intertubes, none have clearly stated exactly how much that 'social wealth' is worth to the masses.

To put it more clearly: Google makes a certain amount of money every time you look at one of their ads. When you click on something, they make even more money. Your views hold a certain value to not only Google, but everyone in the advertising industry, including Rupert Murdoch who purchased MySpace for an obscene amount of billions. They came to that dollar amount by counting the number of times people looked at something on their website. Views have a value to everyone except the viewers themselves, who are typically subjected to more crap at their expense.

This is where a quote from the creator of Jaanix inspires me to believe that someone is on the right track: "Unlike predecessors [Jaanix] is not a democracy, but a marketplace where your attention is the new currency." For what is Democracy but a system of checks and balances controlled by a relative few who ultimately manipulate the system towards their own interests? But Jaanix, by contrast, tells you how much your views are worth, and compensates you accordingly. Or, at least, it could, should it follow the path of the "new currency."

One would do well to remember that we're living in the 21st Century, where knowledge is key and the value of the currency is fluctuating based on information: who values what, how many of us agree, et cetera. What you and I know is the monetary unit of 2008; it's how we earn wealth and who we trade it with. Converting our knowledge into cash is simply another step in turning our views into points. Scrap the dollar! There is no more gold backing our credit! All hail the mighty viewpoint!

Once the model makes sense it is easy to see how all of these points add up: I earn a certain amount every time I contribute, to varying degrees depending on my effort. Should I dig up something original I get a certain amount. Should I simply comment on it I get less, and for the easiest task of voting I get the smallest amount. All of this adds up to an account which offers even greater visibility of higher value to those submitting to the site.

All in all, I see this model providing the foundation for much of what the owners of Digg and Reddit (and even Pwnce) are attempting to accomplish: What are people talking about? What are they interested in learning more about? Websites? Products? You name it. You share it. You create communities of like-minded people to do it. That's the real magic of the Web 2.0. Now, let's hope that Jaanix can see the value, and present it clearly to the rest of the world.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Cooperation Project

Howard Rheingold talks about the coming world of collaboration, participatory media and collective action -- and how Wikipedia is really an outgrowth of our natural human instinct to work as a group. As he points out, humans have been banding together to work collectively since our days of hunting mastodons.

Rheingold hopes to promote the Cooperation Project in an effort to transform the way we think about the problems we currently face in Health Care, etc. He released a paper titled the Technologies of Cooperation, along with the Institute for the Future, that discusses these ideas in further detail.

Monday, February 4, 2008

SIGNAL FIRE by Snow Patrol

The perfect words never crossed my mind,
'cause there was nothing in there but you,
I felt every ounce of me screaming out,
But the sound was trapped deep in me,
All I wanted just sped right past me,
While I was rooted fast to the earth,
I could be stuck here for a thousand years,
Without your arms to drag me out,

There you are standing right in front of me (x2)
All this fear falls away to leave me naked,
Hold me close cause I need you to guide me to safety

No I won't wait forever(2x)

In the confusion and the aftermath,
You are my signal fire,
The only resolution and the only joy,
Is the faint spark of forgiveness in your eyes,

There you are standing right in front of me (x2)
All this fear falls away to leave me naked,
Hold me close cause I need you to guide me to safety,

There you are standing right in front of me (x2)
All this fear falls away to leave me naked,
Hold me close cause I need you to guide me to safety,

No I won't wait forever(x3)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Life on Terra

A recent episode of Life on Terra, that focused on the islands of the South China Sea, ended with a powerful statement: "If we were to lose our biodiversity, we would lose our culture. If we were to lose our culture, we would lose our identity." While it is easy enough to imagine indigenous or rural cultures losing their identity with the loss off the natural environment, its more challenging to see how these effects would affect our own identity: the American identity, which has become merely a byproduct of Capitalism.

This, of course, is the real threat to the biodiversity of such cultures as those in the South China Sea, as well as mainland China, along with other continents such as Africa and South America, which houses the majority of biodiversity on planet Earth. To Capitalism, these are merely resources to manufacture and produce vast concrete structures to nurture the Economy. As the shipping lines expand around the globe, the life which once shared the environment increasingly becomes the property of the select few who profit at the expense of our world.

To save ourselves from the ultimate wars over the finite resources of our planet, we need to learn to see ourselves as something other than Capitalists. Ultimately, the goal of exchanging goods and services is not to profit, it is to accomplish the American dream, where every man and woman is afforded equal rights: to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Struggling to survive in order to finance and endless war on Terrorism is not the American way. It is the way of the Capitalist, and it is destroying our world.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Disposable Heroes

The PBS special on Yao Ming is an inspiring tale of a Chinese man who became a legend in American Basketball. The "dramamentary" follows him from a young boy living in a world where celebrity culture has yet to become the norm, and international sport stars are paid the same as everyone else. In Ming's rise to fame in the United States, he appeared in commercials for a variety of corporations, at times, selling laptops with the aid of a midget who barely made up it to his knees. In the end, it was Yao's translator who shed the most tears as the US watched one of their brothers return to China, the land of the Communists.

So captured by the story, I searched the web for any information to learn more about the plight of this wonderful icon. The top of the search results led me directly to the NBA, where I found a wall of statistics beside another brick of advertising, but nothing about his current situation in life. So I narrowed by search to include PBS, and found an old article from The Journal Editorial Report which preceded a second article on Star Wars entitled Excessive Use of the Force. (This is a funny coincidence as the CW showed a legal drama featuring Mark Hamill directly after the Yao Ming story. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.)

The brief article on repeated many of the same points from the show, but ended on a different note: "I'd also like to give [an award] to the reformers in the Chinese economy who, like Yao Ming, are standing for individual efforts and, even in Communist China, the free market." Who better to serve as a poster boy for the free market than a Chinese basketball star -- the antithesis of the Communist worker who could never dream of earning $14 Million dollars a year. It's that very dream which drives the heart of this economy (even though it is an absolute lie to inspire the 80% who own 1% of their country).

It is wonderful to see the promise of Mark Hamill directly afterwards, showing us that fame indeed lasts but 15 minutes -- or five minutes should you rise to Internet stardom without a representative to keep you in the know. And in the meantime, the rest of us starve for temporary iconography extolling the battle of Good vs. Evil in the stars with massive wars against the Fascist regimes such as Soviet Russia and Socialist China. We see a better promise in the man who sells his soul to the Devil of temporary fortune and elusive fame -- at the low, low cost of $19.95 a month!

Bread and Circus indeed. We're paying for Products and Circuses this time around without realizing our contribution. Instead we sit on our asses in front of the television which was crafted by these terrible Socialists for ten pennies an hour (less for the jeans we're sitting in). We would challenge ourselves to find something created in the United States that we can actually afford -- apart from the images from the NBA which earns billions of dollars annually from our Free Market economy. Tell me this Democracy works anywhere else and I'll show you the modern definition of slavery in South America, in China -- everywhere that produces the American Dream.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Today Was a Really Good Day

I'm excited to announce that I signed an offer letter today for a job that I'm really excited to do -- and nearly doubles my salary to boot! I'll be working for a medical software company which received a few million investment dollars; developing the front end for their bread-and-butter: an application that helps medical practitioners more effectively monitor their patients services "from the womb to the tomb" (so the C.E.O. sayeth).

What excites me most (apart from the salary and the opportunity) is the team that I'll be working with. I initially received the offer from an old manager of mine who had secured a position as their C.T.O. He told me that he was putting together a "Dream Team" composed of a developer I worked with in the past, along with a few other guys the developer knew. After meeting with some of them for lunch, I really felt that we clicked, and knew that the "Dream Team" would be able to knock the company's expectations out of the park.

All of this times so nicely as my current position was becoming a dreadful task. The company is securely set in their ISO-9000 ways that require every soul in their chairs for a regimented amount of time, with "Casual Fridays" and a vision that wasn't able to see past their 50 years of experience. Working to make the War Machine more effective in Iraq was a blow to my moral compass as well. It will be nice to actually help people live. Myself, included.

The greatest thing of all that made today a really good day is that I finally caught a glimpse of my future. I saw myself trapped in the same old house where the same old things happened over and over again. To change the outcome I needed to change. Within the next few months I will finally have the opportunity move down South, start working on the house to sell, and buy that little farm I've always dreamed about. Other things will change as well, but I won't tack that on at the end of the blog.

I will say this, however: Here's to a Really Good Year!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Lagest National Guard Deployment Since WWII

While I watched the news last night a short story ran on Channel 2 wishing the Ohio National Guardsmen “Good Luck!” as they deployed to Kuwait. After researching the story online I found that the deployment of our National Guard is the largest since WWII, with 1,600 men and women headed to Texas for training, then on to Kuwait, with some continuing the journey to Iraq.

Here’s a link to the only report I was able to locate online.

I hope that I am merely overlooking the local news coverage of the enormous sacrifice made by so many of our local Guardsmen. For Ohio to simply send their children off to war without a single protest is lamentable. Without questioning their duty as National Guardsmen to the State of Ohio, it is doubtful that anyone has questioned the need for a record number of our own in Kuwait.

As it happens, Bush is headed over to the Middle East for another round of “Peace Talks,” because we all know Bush is a man of Peace. And just when the troops are secretly surging once more, with the President meeting with all of his Middle Eastern Allies, we learn from Reuters that Iran has made the first aggressive move towards the U.S. Navy.

Gulf of Tonkin, anyone?

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Open Party

While watching a copy of Charlie Wilson's War (brought to me by the good folks at the Pirate Bay) I wondered if it were possible for a young man to simply drive a couple car loads o' Negroes down to the voting booth and steal an election, just by telling them the other guy had killed your dog. It's a nice racist tale about how ig'nunt them collard folks can be, but today's voting population -- as disparately finite as they can be, both amongst colored folk and The Man -- think the Democrats are gonna give it all away, and the Republicans are gonna keep it for themselves.

As far as the system being rigged: I do declare that we've done it to ourselves (Or more plainly put, they've branded the two concepts and sold it to us hook, line, and sinker). The consider a third alternative is to fear the depths of Fascism or Communism, or any other ism cooked up by intellectuals that don't know a damn thing about how life really works. But you do. And that's what really counts. When it comes to hot button issues like abortion and border security, they tell us what our options are and then sort them out between the two parties. At least that's what we're told.

In reality we end up with an idealist who works on the part of the Corporations -- not matter which party they come from. Conservatives and Liberals alike will admit that the system is being rigged by big money lobbyists that buy the fat bastards anything they want to pass their legislations. It's called Corruption, and we all know it is eating our Government from within. But what we don't all know about is 'Open Source' (aside from what we've heard of Linux or Firefox, that developers can download the code and use it for free).

The 'Open Source' methodology is more than a philosophy for programmers. 'Open Source' implies a system that enables everyone to contribute. The practice of opening your system and allowing others to participate affects more than software code. For example, Wikipedia is a type of 'Open Source' which pertains to information, and allows anyone to read and revise any article, assuming you have permission from the community at large. is another aspect of 'Open Source' that allows the user -- not to download and edit the code, but to contribute their own stories, effectively editing the front page as a community.

Imagine the practice of Open Source being applied to our Government. Instead of going to the polls every few years to vote for another criminal to steal your money, you do away with the middle man and directly represent yourself. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call Democracy. Not Representative Democracy. (That is what we call a Republic.) Real Democracy. Now that we've reached the 21st Century the concepts created by our Roman Forefathers is within our reach! But first, we must replace our Republic with a Democracy by supporting the Open Party.

At the moment, the Open Party is simply an idea held by hundreds, if not thousands of people around the globe. Attempting to explain the idea leads us back to the same hot button issues: "What do you think about border patrol? Are you gonna raise my taxes?" The process of explaining how each and every American can participate directly in their city finances or other governing principles simply bores anyone to tears. But that's all part of the process. You have an idea -- simultaneously, as it happens, with hundreds of other people you've never met -- and eventually, figure out how to tell it.

Would you?