Tuesday, November 30, 2004

the mall sucks

One shopping trip into the season and it's clear the mall sucks.

Monday, November 29, 2004

the great firewall of china

....Mao and Zheng started CNBlog.org, China’s first online discussion forum about blogging technology and culture. They soon gathered a small but devoted group of participants, many of whom went on to develop the technology that makes blogging possible for China’s half-a-million bloggers....But the government also fears that uncontrolled online information will cause the regime to collapse. Since 2000 China’s police force has established internet departments in more than 700 cities and provinces. The net police monitor websites and email for “heretical teachings or feudal superstitions” and information “harmful to the dignity or interests of the state”. Since 2002, all internet service providers have had to sign a self-censorship pledge before they can operate. Perhaps the most effective component of government control is the “Great Firewall”, which protects the nine gateways connecting China to the global internet. Its main function is to prevent surfers in China from accessing “undesirable” web content.

...read it all: The 'blog' revolution sweeps across China, New Scientist, 29 November 2004

Saturday, November 27, 2004

watching a slow wave of black death

If men had wings and bore black feathers,
few of them would be clever enough to be crows.

-Rev.Henry Ward Beecher

It's an HIV/AIDS plague for corvids. Smart birds; can they remain unaware of their mortality in an epidemic that kills all but three per hundred? Meanwhile, people who consider the victims pests - or worse - await their elimination.
Crows are steeped in fearful myth, like wolves and rats. Those who know crows well love and respect them for their intelligence, curiosity and social skills, their devotion to family, even their sense of humor. But most see crows as pests, a sort of invader from the underworld, as baby killers and noisy hoodlums. They're a nuisance, or even followers of Satan. Because of this antipathy and their own resourcefulness, the population of crows has swung wildly over the past century.

Persecuted as vermin from the 19th century until fairly recently, the American crow, and its larger cousin, the northern or common raven, has been driven down and, in some areas, extirpated. But since World War II, as pressure on them has eased, and sprawling human settlements have created the tree-dotted open space the American crow prefers and the food-littered landscape both crows and ravens appreciate, crow populations have soared, perhaps even surpassing their numbers before European colonization. ("Crow" refers both to specific species, like the northwestern crow, and to any of the 52 species of mostly black crows and ravens around the world.)

A recent study by John Kelly and Katie Etienne of the Cypress Grove Research Center and Jennifer Roth of the Point Reyes Bird Observatory has detailed the rise of crow and raven populations around the Bay Area. Their findings confirm increases in populations since 1950, with growth accelerating in the 1980s and 1990s.

....Crows are apparently particularly susceptible to West Nile, but it's not clear whether their relatively large size and inclination to live near people have meant that disproportionately high numbers of their bodies have been collected as indicators of the virus' spread, or whether West Nile is frighteningly deadly across a wide spectrum of bird species. (Sick birds seek secluded places, where they die unseen. It's thought that even the 57,000 dead crows collected between 1999 and 2002 may represent only a fraction of the crows killed by the virus.) So it's unclear whether crows are particularly susceptible to West Nile or North American birds (and perhaps other animals) are generally under siege by a pandemic.

Research by the Audubon Society showed that only 3 percent of crows have antibodies for West Nile, so there is the potential for a 97 percent mortality rate. This is so high as to seem alarmist, except that when 32 crows were experimentally infected, only one survived. Also, in 2002, in a carefully studied crow flock in Oklahoma, the virus arrived and six weeks later, 33 percent of the birds had died. (Cold weather seems to suspend the virus, although it overwinters.) The following summer an additional 72 percent of the remaining flock died. And while the virus spreads to humans only through mosquito bites, crows can apparently contract it through contact with infected flock mates or infected carrion.

....Crows haven't yet begun to die in large numbers in the Bay Area. Given the spread of the virus, this will probably begin to happen next summer.

...read it all: West Nile virus' spread threatens Bay Area crows: Birds show high susceptibility -- toll may emerge next year by Rob Lee, San Francisco Chronicle, 27 November 2004

Friday, November 26, 2004

giving thanks for fried turkey

Get it while it's hot.


...recalls the Women's Armed Struggle slogan spray-painted on a concrete support under the BART tracks near old Grove St. in late-1970s Berkeley. [photo: Wooster Collective]

It's never been quite this bad, even at its worst, in our house, another reason to give thanks. Reminds me of the succesful but lovable crusty old oilfield guy who came to holiday dinner one time at my mother's place in Oklahoma, on seeing all the sons and sons-in-law gathered, seemed a tad disappointed: "All these strong young men, and not a single fist fight."

Lots of leftovers!

Poor table manners lead to stabbings
WORCESTER, Mass. Nov 26, 2004 — A man was charged with stabbing two relatives after they allegedly criticized his table manners during Thanksgiving dinner.

Police said the fight broke out Thursday when Gonzalo Ocasio, 49, and his 18-year-old son, Gonzalo Jr., reprimanded Frank Palacious for picking at the turkey with his fingers, instead of slicing off pieces with a knife.

Palacious, 24, described by police only as an uncle, allegedly responded by stabbing them with a carving knife.

He is charged with domestic assault and assault with intent to murder, Detective Sgt. Thomas R. Radula said.

Police said Ocasio Jr. suffered stab wounds to the chest, back and right side. A nursing supervisor at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center said Friday she had no information on his condition. His father was treated for a stab wound in his arm. [Copyright 2004 The Associated Press]

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

Lots to be grateful for today. A house full of people, great food, lots of music - piano trio Zu Kang, Laurence, Chris performed Mendelssohn and Debussy; Watson played Bach, Chopin, Gershwin as beautifully as I've ever heard him play. Shi Yue played "Thanksgiving" by George Winston on the piano. Qing Tao sang Chinese folk songs.


Wednesday, November 24, 2004

50 writing tools

Fifty Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark.
At times, it helps to think of writing as carpentry. That way, writers and editors can work from a plan and use tools stored on their workbench. You can borrow a writing tool at any time. And here's a secret: Unlike hammers, chisels, and rakes, writing tools never have to be returned. They can be cleaned, sharpened, and passed on.

Each week, for the next 50, I will describe a writing tool that has been useful to me. I have borrowed these tools from writers and editors, from authors of books on writing, and from teachers and writing coaches. Many come from the X-ray reading of texts I admire.

That was back in April, when Clark started the series. His orientation is towards news writing, but I recommend this series for writers in general, at all levels of experience and expertise.

no longer left behind (UPDATE)

23 November: After reading about the tens of millions of Americans who have purchased novels in the Left Behind series - presumably, some of them helping to elect Bush earlier this month - I decided to investigate.

A hundred pages into the first volume, I'm more convinced than ever that I possess the basic writing skills to produce a best-selling novel. Whether I'll come up with an idea as compelling - the book relentlessly pushes the reader's panic button about finding oneself on the outside looking in when all the Kool Kids go to Heaven - remains to be seen.

It's a page turner, and the more pages I turn, the more unintentional laughs it tickles out of me.

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS DISCLAIMER: I checked my copy out of the local library, choosing not to support this particular branch of the Christian movement with my hard-earned dollars.

24 November: New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof takes on Left Behind authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins in his column today, criticizing them because the novels "enthusiastically depict Jesus returning to slaughter everyone who is not a born-again Christian. The world's Hindus, Muslims, Jews and agnostics, along with many Catholics and Unitarians, are heaved into everlasting fire: 'Jesus merely raised one hand a few inches and . . . they tumbled in, howling and screeching.'"

Kristof reports that the authors "both e-mailed me (after I wrote about the "Left Behind" series in July) to protest that their books do not "celebrate" the slaughter of non-Christians but simply present the painful reality of Scripture," and notes: "I accept that Mr. Jenkins and Mr. LaHaye are sincere. (They base their conclusions on John 3.) But I've sat down in Pakistani and Iraqi mosques with Muslim fundamentalists, and they offered the same defense: they're just applying God's word."

I'm quite a bit deeper into the "novel" now, where the going gets tougher through page after page of fundamentalist Christian proselytizing.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Silicon Valley Media Watch officially launches

...and I'm editing it. SiliconValleyMediaWatch.com is a sister site to SiliconValleyWatcher.com where I'll continue contributing. I'll also be helping my partner in this venture, Tom Foremski, roll out more sites and work to take the project to the next level with paying sponsors and, perhaps, investors.

In my introductory column, I note that 10 years ago this month I introduced Blaster magazine at the Comdex show in Las Vegas. What a strange journey this past decade has been. With SVMW, I feel I've ended one phase and entered another, and that feels good.

Monday, November 22, 2004

everywhere but in the US

World revulsion against the US attack on Fallujah reached a crescendo during the past five days, with significant street protests breaking out in the Middle East and Latin America. Turkey, Palestine and Libya in the region, and Chile in the New World saw thousands of angry protesters come out against the US.

...read it all: Large Protests Against Fallujah Campaign, Mosque Killing: US Hated From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli by Juan Cole.

the chilling story behind the shocking video

Kevin Sites talks about videotaping the Marine who shot and killed a wounded Iraqi prisoner in Falluja.

WWW, Amazon.com, Google, blogs, RSS…where is it all taking us?

This video from the future (2014, to be precise) offers a plausible-sounding prediction, and a warning that cuts deep: Googlezon & EPIC

Gotta admit, I like the part where Microsoft fades from view and a new generation of freelance editors takes its place.

the saga continues

After countless calls to Comcast over the past few months complaining about service outages, I received my first call from Comcast a while ago. All it took was having a letter published in the paper (see go fight city hall, posted earlier today). They're promising a four-month credit to my bill; we'll see if that happens as promised.

I couldn't help telling the nice lady - she was nice - that it's easy to give the squeaking wheel a squirt of grease, but what about the people out there - and they are out there all over this metropolitain area - who have experienced the same crappy Comcast service but who did not persist and who have not published letters in the newspaper? Those are the customers who will defect to a competitor in a minute, without a glance backward, when a reasonable alternative to Comcast's internet service comes along. I also took the opportunity to point her to my book, Firebrands! Building Brand Loyalty in the Internet Age, where I explain these concepts in detail.

go fight city hall

The San Francisco Chronicle finally, in yesterday's paper, published my letter (scroll down) to the Business section in response to a puff piece about Comcast a few weeks ago. I wouldn't have edited it quite the way they did, but I'm happy to see it in print all the same:
Comcast Net service is a public disgrace

Editor -- Regarding Todd Wallack's article, "Comcast upgrade on track" on Sept. 30: Here in El Cerrito, we've suffered Comcast Internet outages on an almost daily basis since it took over from AT&T, and customer service is terrible.

Comcast consistently delivers misleading information.

I see Comcast trucks and workers working on the cable lines in our neighborhood when Comcast Internet service has gone out. I ask and learn that what they are doing is causing the outage -- but when I call Comcast, they swear that nothing is going on and suggest the problem is with my computer.

Comcast does not offer to credit my account for service outages and gives confusing, conflicting information about how to claim a credit.

Comcast uses a voice-mail system that appears to be designed to make people wait so long that they will give up before reaching a human being. I've often had to wait up to 45 minutes on hold.

Comcast charges a premium price for Internet service -- nearly $50 a month -- yet fails to deliver this service consistently. That's like going to the grocery store, paying the bill and not being able to take the groceries home to eat.

I hope you will look more deeply into Comcast's poor delivery of Internet service. In my opinion, it's a consumer rip-off and a scandal.

This morning, I got a phone call from a guy who lives not too far from our house, who had the same problem. He gave me the name and telephone number of a Comcast guy who was able to provide a three-month credit. I'm going to see if I can get the same.

And, I suspect the Chronicle headline writer may have had problems with Comcast, too. I didn't write that headline, nor did I use the word "disgrace" in my letter.

eliminate the middleman

Many years ago, I spent the winter cabin-sitting for friends who were taking a long-overdue and well-deserved vacation. At the end of Salmon Creek Road in the hills outside Garberville, California, I made myself cozy during that drizzly season, feeding log after log into a pot-bellied stove against the chill. Feeding meal after meal of hay and grain to an old sway-backed horse, too, which I would watch pass through, regular as clockwork, in the corral outside the cabin's picture window. Along with the regular shovel-and-bucket clean-up, I grew to resent the horse. Those glistening, reproachful eyes. We were both trapped.

As I watch unread books continue to pile up on the already-bulging shelves of my personal library, and empathize with all those authors, struggling and otherwise, cranking out more all the time, news of a potential breakthrough:

From Computers as Authors? Literary Luddites Unite! by Daniel Akst, in today's New York Times:
Consider the beginning of a short story dealing with the theme of betrayal:

"Dave Striver loved the university - its ivy-covered clocktowers, its ancient and sturdy brick, and its sun-splashed verdant greens and eager youth. The university, contrary to popular opinion, is far from free of the stark unforgiving trials of the business world: academia has its own tests, and some are as merciless as any in the marketplace. A prime example is the dissertation defense: to earn the Ph.D., to become a doctor, one must pass an oral examination on one's dissertation. This was a test Professor Edward Hart enjoyed giving."

That pregnant opening paragraph was written by a computer program known as Brutus.1 that was developed by Selmer Bringsjord, a computer scientist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and David A. Ferrucci, a researcher at I.B.M.

....What you just read is the work of StoryBook, "an end-to-end narrative prose generation system that utilizes narrative planning, sentence planning, a discourse history, lexical choice, revision, a full-scale lexicon and the well-known Fuf/Surge surface realizer." Believe it or not, that description was written not by a computer but by the humans who created StoryBook, Charles B. Callaway and James C. Lester, who are computer scientists.

Bring on the computer! Let me gleefully take a shovel to the novels in their piles! Banish the author's reproachful eye forever from my imagination!

Sunday, November 21, 2004

a disgusting way to memorialize JFK's assassination

Just in time for the anniversary of JFK's assassination, Reuters reports:
A new video game to be released on Monday allows players to simulate the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

The release of "JFK Reloaded" is timed to coincide with the 41st anniversary of Kennedy's murder in Dallas and was designed to demonstrate that a lone gunman was able to kill the president.

"It is despicable," said David Smith, a spokesman for Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, the late president's brother. He was informed of the game on Friday but declined further comment.

....Traffic Games said the objective was for a player to fire three shots at Kennedy's motorcade from assassin Lee Harvey Oswald's digitally re-created sixth-floor perch in the Texas School Book Depository.

Points are awarded or subtracted based on how accurately the shots match the official version of events as documented in by the Warren Commission, which investigated Kennedy's assassination.

Shooting the image of Kennedy in the right spots in the right sequence adds to the score, while "errors" like shooting first lady Jacqueline Kennedy lead to deductions.

Each shot can be replayed in slow motion, and the bullets can be tracked as they travel and pass through Kennedy's digitally recreated body. Players can choose to see blood by pressing a "blood effects" option.

Players can view the motorcade from a number of angles, including the perspective of filmmaker Abraham Zapruder and a view from the "grassy knoll" where some conspiracy theorists believe a second gunman was stationed.

But I guess it's a great way to reap blood money profits and raise a new generation of cold-hearted snipers.

a paradoxical game plan

I continue to find Maureen Dowd's columns too cute by at least half, but her conclusion today is right on, regarding the muscle-flexing Bush Administration: "It's a paradoxical game plan: imposing democracy abroad while impeding it here."

Friday, November 19, 2004

e-peace music project

Send a peace poem (text only and in English to avoid the problem with different ASCII codes, not because we think that English is the only language in the universe!) Know that some of the poems will become the lyrics for songs composed by Mohammad Iqbal Behleem. Send also a text to introduce yourself as poet, writer or artist Send a picture of yourself if you like that Send also a photo or postcard from your home town or city All contributions will be published and each participant will have his own page on the website magazine with poem, introduction, personal photo and hometown image Mohammad Iqbal Behleem will in addition to that compose music around a certain number of the contributed poems. The links to these songs will also be put on the site. [E-Peace Music Project]

Sounds like a great project, and I love the spirit behind it. At the same time, the first thought that ran through my mind when I read this (at Rhizome.org's Net Art News) was the memory of an old college dormitory acquaintance, "Potato-head" Bert, who wound up being shunned because he was just too cosmic, and because of his habit of reading his poetry whether invited or not. On receiving polite compliments for a performance, he would say, "I've got reams of this stuff in my closet."

they don't mellow with age, they rot

The presidential election results are starting to stink real good. Right here in my back yard, "Researchers at UC Berkeley released a statistical analysis Thursday that shows, they say, that President Bush may have received at least 130,000 extra and unexplained votes in Florida counties that used electronic voting machines," the San Francisco Chronicle reports today.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

sad but true

Not a single major voice has been raised in the American media against the ongoing destruction of Fallujah. While much of the world recognizes something horrifying has occurred, the US press does not bat an eye over the systematic leveling of a city of 300,000 people.

...read it all: US media applauds destruction of Fallujah

database imaginary

Database Imaginary:
Databases drive culture. 33 artists take us on an imaginative and subversive ride. The artists presented in Database Imaginary use databases to comment on their uses and to imagine unknown uses. The term database was only coined in the 1970s with the rise of automated office procedures, but the 23 projects in this exhibition - which includes wooden sculptures, movies and telephone user-generated guides to the local area - deploy databases in imaginative ways to comment on everyday life in the 21st century. Using newly inflected forms of visual display arising from computerized databases, the works seem to raise questions about authorship, agency, audience participation, control and identity.


Lisa Jevbratt/C5 | 1:1 Interface:Every: "Working with a database of all possible Internet Protocol (IP) addresses from to, Jevbratt used a robot crawler to catalogue over 200,000 of the sites. She created a number of interfaces to the results and Every assigns a pixel of colour to each IP address, mixing red, green and blue according to the octets (or parts) of the address."

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

democracy is on the march

This is great: US and Iraqi forces are said to have beat up doctors in Falluja General Hospital, arrested a doctor who was helping a woman patient deliver a baby, kept Red Crescent humantiarian aid for civilians out of the city, while dogs and cats are eating dead bodies in the streets. The video of a US Marine killing a wounded and apparently defenseless prisoner in a Falluja mosque will no doubt help the US win hearts and minds, too, as US broadcasts of the disturbing footage make their way through the Iraqi grapevine. Three cheers for Bush league democracy!

Monday, November 15, 2004

how to defeat al-qaeda

Defeating the Jihadists: A Blueprint for Action, co-written by Richard Clarke (the white-haired guy who apologized to the victims of the 9/11 attacks at the televised commission hearings) and other experts, is available in .pdf format, free. The publisher's description:
The international jihadist network of radical Islamic terrorist groups is far more extensive than just al Qaeda, and it has conducted twice as many attacks in the three years since September 11, 2001 as it did in the three years prior to that date. Defeating the Jihadists: A Blueprint for Action (Century Foundation Press, 2004), assesses the nation's successes and failures on homeland security and calls for a stronger, more effective strategy for dealing with jihadists, including al Qaeda. The report offers a detailed action plan for neutralizing the international movement at the core of worldwide terrorism. The report also describes the nature of the jihadist threat; provides comprehensive profiles of the various jihadist groups; and offers a rationale for the effort and money that would be needed to make the plan a success. The plan presented in the report builds on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and serves as a road map for winning the war against the jihadists.

The report's authors are Richard A. Clarke, Glenn P. Aga, Roger W. Cressey, Stephen E. Flynn, Blake W. Mobley, Eric Rosenbach, Steven Simon, William F. Wechsler, and Lee S. Wolosky—all experts on various aspects of national security, intelligence, counterterrorism, military operations.

cephalopods for Bush

Read all about it. Global warming = more tasty squid. Assuming humans can survive to eat them.

Looks like they're picking up some bad Bush habits, too, judging from this headline: Peru Seizes Cocaine Haul Hidden in Giant Squid.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

you know things are getting out of hand when...

Captain America is going to fight with US forces in Iraq.

From Biff! Bang! Pow! Captain America enlists to fight for Bush in Iraq in today's Sunday Herald:
Mark Millar, chief writer for the New York publishers Marvel Comics and outspoken opponent of Bush and the war in Iraq, has created a year-long series imagining American soldiers pushed to the extreme – as the Persons Of Mass Destruction. Its most controversial aspect is a storyline in which Captain America is sent to Iraq.

The first of the monthly comics, Ultimates 2, will be published by Marvel across the world at the end of this month. It is being tipped to cause a huge debate, as Millar’s opposition to the war has already inspired hundreds of patriotic American comic readers to sign an online petition to have him sacked. But his right to free speech has been backed by the board of Marvel, and he states that Bush is “the most terrifying threat to the West since the Third Reich”. This series will include characters such as Ultimate Hulk, X-Men stars, Daredevil, Captain America and The Defenders, enlisted as supersoldiers, and has been drawn by Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary, and coloured by Laura Martin.

Millar said the series is just ahead of reality; he believes thousands of Americans fear being enlisted, while the country is trying to create an all-powerful military.

....“There’s a lot of fear right now that, as the scope of Bush’s plan gets wider, civilians are going to be drafted again. In fact, the draft offices were prepared last year for such an eventuality and there are a lot of nervous under-25s.”

Millar, who wrote the series earlier this year, said that in this universe, the President expands his power. “Bush’s second term prompts him to get a little more ambitious with his foreign policy and the remit for these superheroes, and so he decides to start using what he calls Persons Of Mass Destruction, ” said Millar.

But the results threaten the world, as these supersoldiers defuse nuclear facilities in Iran and North Korea, and China becomes an enemy. Superpeople are the new power superseding the nuclear arms race.

Millar, who has sold the ultra-violent story, Wanted, to Universal Pictures and the tale of a second coming, Chosen, to a major Hollywood name, said supersoldiers are no imaginary threat. “They’re more precise and far more deadly [than nuclear weapons] and so you see individual states developing their own supersoldiers to fight a war unlike anything we’ve ever seen before,” he said.

“This, of course, is all ripped from the headlines. The US military have already developed soldiers who can be on full alert for two weeks without sleep and are very close to creating the conditions where wounded troops can repair their injuries with a healing factor. Science fiction is always just 10 minutes into the future.”

They can use some superhero help over there in Quagmire City - 55 dead US soldiers in the past week, according to Antiwar.com.

Too bad Captain America can't get over there right now to help the suffering civilians in Fallujah. According to a Guardian report, "large numbers of wounded civilians were evacuated to hospitals in Baghdad," many if not all of them injured by the overwhelming force applied by US troops in their largely futile effort to kill insurgents who have left the city to fight elswhere in Iraqa. At the main hospital, the Guardian reports, the injured can look forward to treatment "with nothing but bandages." I guess that means no anaesthetics or medications. I suppose that slipped through the cracks as US war planners plotted this nightmare.

Tom Engelhardt observes, in an essay well worth reading in its entirety:
But American exceptionalism -- the deep belief that our motives are uniquely pure, our goals singularly above reproach -- means that descriptions of our actions don't fit any of the language categories in which we put those we fight. This is essential to our war coverage -- and largely unexamined. When, for instance, our planes destroy or our troops capture a clinic or hospital, as we did in our first and second acts in Falluja, the reporting on this may be grim -- patients and doctors rousted from hospital rooms, thrown on the floor and handcuffed -- and yet because Americans have done this, there will be no mention of the Geneva Conventions which such an act almost certainly contravenes. (The Fourth Geneva Convention contains this clear passage: "Civilian hospitals organized to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.") Similar acts -- the dropping of 500, 1,000 or 2,000 pound bombs in major urban areas (sometimes to kill a single sniper) or the turning back of men trying to flee Falluja (because we have no way of telling whether they are civilians or fighters) -- lead similarly down a steep but unacknowledged path to Hell.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

UPDATE: priorities

UPDATE: CBS has fired the producer responsible for interrupting CSI with news of Arafat's death. This is absurd.

12 November 2004
CBS has apologized for interrupting the "whodunit moment" of the popular crime detection drama, CSI, with news of Arafat's death on Wednesday night. ABC and NBC waited until the end of their prime-time programs before broadcasting the news. No news yet about the impact the interruption may have had in CBS's ratings battle with competing networks "in the midst of the all-important November sweep."

Friday, November 12, 2004

the conspiracy theory of a lifetime

Move over Warren Commission Report, here comes Re-Open 911. Click here to download a 30-second video for the campaign.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

51/48 : Bush/Kerry

by jwz

war is OK but not the F-word

Amazing, but perhaps to be expected in the current "values" climate: some ABC affiliates are afraid to show the movie Private Ryan, not because of the graphic scenes of combat violence (the kiddies get a more or less bloodless version of that with the evening TV news), but because characters in the movie use the F-word as they try to come to grips with the war. Al's Morning Meeting at Poynter Online has the most details of the many versions of this story floating around the web today.


Frank Rich is good on the red state/blue state "values" story in this morning's New York Times:
If anyone is laughing all the way to the bank this election year, it must be the undisputed king of the red cultural elite, Rupert Murdoch. Fox News is a rising profit center within his News Corporation, and each red-state dollar that it makes can be plowed back into the rest of Fox's very blue entertainment portfolio. The Murdoch cultural stable includes recent books like Jenna Jameson's "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star" and the Vivid Girls' "How to Have a XXX Sex Life," which have both been synergistically, even joyously, promoted on Fox News by willing hosts like Rita Cosby and, needless to say, Mr. O'Reilly. There are "real fun parts and exciting parts," said Ms. Cosby to Ms. Jameson on Fox News's "Big Story Weekend," an encounter broadcast on Saturday at 9 p.m., assuring its maximum exposure to unsupervised kids.

Almost unnoticed in the final weeks of the campaign was the record government indecency fine levied against another prime-time Fox television product, "Married by America." The $1.2 million bill, a mere bagatelle to Murdoch stockholders, was more than twice the punishment inflicted on Viacom for Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction." According to the F.C.C. complaint, one episode in this heterosexual marriage-promoting reality show included scenes in which "partygoers lick whipped cream from strippers' bodies," and two female strippers "playfully spank" a man on all fours in his underwear. "Married by America" is gone now, but Fox remains the go-to network for Paris Hilton ("The Simple Life") and wife-swapping ("Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy").

None of this has prompted an uprising from the red-state Fox News loyalists supposedly so preoccupied with "moral values." They all gladly contribute fungible dollars to Fox culture by boosting their fair-and-balanced channel's rise in the ratings. Some of these red staters may want to make love like porn stars besides. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) An ABC News poll two weeks before the election found that more Republicans than Democrats enjoy sex "a great deal." The Democrats' new hero, Illinois Senator-elect Barack Obama, was assured victory once his original, ostentatiously pious Republican opponent, Jack Ryan, dropped out of the race rather than defend his taste for "avant-garde" sex clubs.

....Mr. Murdoch and his fellow cultural barons - from Sumner Redstone, the Bush-endorsing C.E.O. of Viacom, to Richard Parsons, the Republican C.E.O. of Time Warner, to Jeffrey Immelt, the Bush-contributing C.E.O. of G.E. (NBC Universal) - are about to be rewarded not just with more tax breaks but also with deregulatory goodies increasing their power to market salacious entertainment. It's they, not Susan Sarandon and Bruce Springsteen, who actually set the cultural agenda Gary Bauer and company say they despise.
But do read it all.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

bro' Dan gets some press

My brother, Dan Millison, is quoted in an Agence France Press story at Channel News Asia today about the challenge of greenhouse gas emissions in China: China facing increasing pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

Construction workers go about their chores as a factory cooling tower emits gases in Beijing; photo and caption from ChannelNewsAsia.com
BEIJING: China's share of greenhouse gas emissions is expected to exceed the world's biggest polluter, the United States, by around 2020 and pressure is mounting for Beijing to do more to limit global warming, analysts say.

With Russia's ratification this month of the Kyoto Protocol, the UN pact on climate change will finally come into force and attention will turn towards China, the second biggest emitter in the world, they said.

The United States has refused to ratify the protocol but China, having made a commitment, will be held accountable, environmentalists said.

"They have to do their best and step up development of renewable energy," said Lo Sze Ping, campaign director for Greenpeace in China.

"The Chinese government is not ambitious enough. It can do better."

China is a Kyoto member but as a developing country does not have to meet specific targets for cutting emissions.

In negotiations to begin in 2005 on the next phase of commitments for Kyoto Protocol signatories, developing countries will likely be asked to commit to clear anti-pollution targets, even if the requirement will not be as high as that of industrialized countries, experts said.

"China is the second biggest energy consumer in the world, accounting for 10 percent of global consumption ... China's active participation in combating climate change is of crucial importance," said Khalid Malik, the United Nations resident coordinator in Beijing.

China's emissions now account for 13 percent of the global total, compared with 26 percent for the United States, according to estimates.

With a population of 1.3 billion people, China's per capita emission rate is much lower than that of the United States, Europe or other developed countries.

China argues industrialized nations should take the lead as they generate more greenhouse gas per capita.

"China doesn't want its emission volume to be higher than the United States, but you have to look at our population size. You must look at how much per person," said Gao Guangsheng, a deputy director-general of the National Development and Reform Commission.

China is experiencing nearly double-digit annual economic growth. Its goal is to quadruple its gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020. As the country industrializes, its energy consumption is expected to rise significantly, and with it, pollution.

"The priority is to satisfy our basic demand. The economy must develop. China has 1.3 billion people and we have to live," Gao said.

Experts and activists said China's argument was legitimate, but there was still much more the country could do.

China still relies on coal for about 75 percent of its energy. Coal-fired power plants account for a majority of the pollution China emits.

The amount of renewable energy it generates, meanwhile, is less than one percent of the total.

The government has pledged that by 2010, 10 percent of energy capacity will be provided by renewable energy.

Greenpeace believes China can make better use of renewable energy sources such as small hydroelectric plants; methods that use agricultural waste to generate energy and wind power.

But instead of moving towards those energy sources, China is building hundreds more polluting coal-fired power plants and has plans to build nuclear power plants.

"Many people want to invest in wind farms, but they can't get loans," Lo said, blaming the problem on "bureaucratic inertia."

"Government officials are not confident in new technology, unwilling to change policies."

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, China must also increase energy efficiency, said Dan Millison, an environment and energy specialist at the Asian Development Bank's Manila office.

"China uses at least three times as much energy per unit of GDP than OECD (the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries," Millison said.

"As of 2000-2001, China's economy was eight times more energy intensive than Japan and three times more energy intensive than the US; also three to four times more than Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and South Korea."

China is also aggressively expanding the automobile market, mimicking the United States.


kicking butt

What's Bill Gates doing with that finger?

Here's a column I wrote today for SiliconValleyWatcher.com:

I've got a bone to pick with Bill Gates, or at least an observation to make, in response to a quote attributed to him in today's Good Morning Silicon Valley email newsletter.

The newsletter, published by the San Jose Mercury News and bylined John Paczkowski, is well-written and generally a fun, informative read.

In today's issue, Paczkowski recalls, "Speaking at The World Economic Forum in January, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said he regretted not investing more in search technology over the past few years. 'Google kicked our butts,' he said."

It's probably impolite to point out just how far Microsoft has lagged behind the technology leaders, almost since the company's earliest days, when Gates bought up a pre-existing operting system and turned it into MS-DOS.

By the time Gates had used family connections to approach IBM and seal the fortune-making deal of a lifetime, to put DOS on the IBM PC, Apple was already working on the Mac and a graphical user interface, which Microsoft later ripped off for Windows.

Microsoft has always been more interested in market share than technology leadership, and it has played fast and loose to win, to the point of stretching or even breaking the law in some cases.

I had the chance to meet Bill Gates back in the early '90s, when I was the US West Coast Correspondent for Japanese megacorp Softbank. Together with a handful of reporters, I spent a couple of hours sequestered with Gates at a barbecue on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, in the context of a press and analyst dog-and-pony show.

"Rumpled professor" is the kindest descriptor I can apply to his personal appearance; he's cleaned up very nicely since he got married.

But he hasn't changed the macho approach to business that was immediately obvious on that occasion. That evening he was going on, and on, and on, about Apple and how they were going to, yes, kick Apple's butt in the then-current litigation over Microsoft's appropriation of Apple's graphical user interface intellectual property.

Steve Ballmer talks the same way, I also learned when I met him that weekend. Based on Ballmer's recent comments about Apple iPod users being thieves, he doesn't seem to have changed his ways in the interval.

Paczkowski notes that Microsoft has invested some $100 million in its search engine technology, with the hope of catching up with and overtaking Google.

But I'm wondering if Gates's violent metaphor betrays an obsession with physically beating a competitor that, in this case at least, may have gotten in the way of actually building a better solution for customers. That, as everybody knows, is the way a company can actually win new customers and keep them loyal.

Paczkowski: "Matching wits with Google is no easy task though, and it remains to be seen whether Redmond's offering will be competitive with Google's. Certainly, the preview version of the engine is unimpressive. 'From what I've seen, the technology is still pretty unremarkable," SearchEngineWatch.com Editor Danny Sullivan told PC World. [Microsoft hasn't] been savvy in terms of search optimization.' "

But that won't stop Microsoft, I'm sure, from trying to kick some Google butt in return for the butt-kicking Gates perceives he's received.

Now I'll reveal - if you regular readers haven't figured it out already - that I'm a Mac partisan and have been ever since I first used a Mac not long after it came on the market.

The first time I met Steve Jobs was at the grand Next, Inc. launch back in 1988. His famous "reality distortion field" was vibrating at a particularly high level that day, with a huge crowd of reporters from all over the world treating him like a rock star.

I don't want to get too hung up on personal hygiene in my comparison of these two personal computer industry giants, but suffice to say that when I got up close to Jobs, it was obvious that he had recently washed his hair. And his spectacles were free of fingerprinted smudge.

But, what I really like about Jobs is that his motivation has always been to create the best possible technical solution, with cutting edge industrial design.

He invested $7 million of his own money in Next - $7 million in 1985 dollars. (Successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs say, "Never, never, never invest your own money." Of course, some of the most astonishing success stories have resulted when entrepreneurs have ignored this advice. Including, I'd argue, Jobs' investment in Next. As I've written here before, the Next system is today's multimedia, Web-ready personal computer at an affordable price point thanks to manufacturing advances in the past 16 years.)

Obviously Jobs has made compromises along the way. It is clear, however, that his ambition has never been to dominate the market and "crush" all possible competitors, with buggy software that's always at least a couple of years behind the best.

A metrosexual approach to personal computer design, in other words. Or, to use a more topical metaphor: the "blue state" of personal computers, compared to Microsoft's swaggering macho "red state."

(The photo is from news.google.com, where it currently sits next to a headline about Microsoft going after Google's market.)


No results found for: "Linux." Did you mean: "Windows" by John Paczkowski, Good Morning Silicon Valley, 10 November 2004

Next Computer, Wikipedia article

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Bush Wins!

From Bin Laden Sought Bush Victory by Antonia Zerbisias:
He has barely been mentioned since Tuesday when the U.S. media began framing the election results around "morality" - a genteel way of saying middle America hates homos - instead of the fear factor that drove most of the campaign.

Behold Osama bin Laden, star of the most effective ad all year for the Bush-Cheney ticket. It debuted two Fridays ago, on the eve of the vote, in time to mute talk of the missing explosives at Al Qaaqa and to wipe out coverage of the impending collapse of the necessary overhaul of American intelligence agencies. Its appearance could not have been better managed if George W's chief political strategist, Karl Rove, had planned it.

....Bin Laden knew that making fun of Bush would goad the electorate into supporting him - especially in a climate where it's a virtue to be hated by the Europeans, the United Nations and others who are not American
I'm not sure how to credit the photo. I read about it in Zerbisias' article; he says he found it at myblahg, which credits it to Rising Hegemon, but I didn't find it there...

more "news" = voter ignorance

From On Media and the Election by Robert W. McChesney:
This election has been marked by a staggering amount of voter ignorance. Polls show that voters -- especially Bush supporters -- were grossly misinformed about their candidate's position on a broad range of issues. Surveying supporters of the President, a University of Maryland PIPA/ Knowledge Networks poll found:
  • 72% still believe that there were WMD's in Iraq.

  • 75% believe that Iraq was providing substantial support for Al Qaeda.

  • 66% believe that Bush supports participation in the International Criminal Court.

  • 72% believe that he supports the treaty banning land mines.

The catch? None of these statements are true.

How do we know who our candidates are and what they stand for when the media fixates on polls, controversy and spin instead of the issues? How do we have meaningful elections when people don't know what they're voting for? Our Founders understood this; that is why they inscribed freedom of the press into the First Amendment of the constitution.

Our media are responsible for giving us a balanced inspection of all claims, careful fact checking, and reasoned analysis. But that was all but abandoned in this presidential campaign. And it is exactly what we would expect. As a result of media consolidation and pressures to cut costs, media corporations have gutted investigative journalism and hard-hitting analysis. Hence we get hours and hours of coverage of the baseless and idiotic "swift boats for truth" story, and barely a look at what the actual policies of this administration are, and how they affect the people of the nation and the world.

The complicity of our major media in subverting public discourse runs even deeper. The handful of enormous media corporations that own most of our major local TV stations and networks raked in $600 million from presidential TV ads alone, shattering previous records and subjecting voters to half-truths and distortions from both sides. Political ad revenues now constitute well over 10 percent of commercial broadcasting revenue, up from less than three percent in 1992. Overall, federal elections cost $3.9 billion this year, representing a near 30% increase since 2000.

An iron law in commercial broadcasting is that you do not do programming that undermines the credibility of your sponsors. The result: more political ads and little-to-no critical journalism that exposes the spin and lies in these TV ads. A more brash insult to our intelligence can hardly be imagined. This also explains why the corporate media giants are as enthusiastic about campaign finance reform as the NRA is regarding gun control.

Lastly, media companies have a conflict of interest; they benefit from seeing the re-election of George W. Bush and his industry-friendly policies. Viacom owner Sumner Redstone made it clear when his CBS was enmeshed in "Rathergate" that he was a supporter of the president -- because the president would allow Viacom to get much larger and face less competition.

Bloggers can take up part of the slack . . . but only if they become citizen journalists, taking care to publish accurate information that wins the trust of readers. Voters will also have to put pressure on elected officials to do what they can to stop or mitigate media consolidation.

what the Democrats need to do next

This is a reworked version of an email I sent to Josh Marshall of the always interesting Talking Points Memo earlier today:
Enjoyed your article today, and agree with your conclusion:

"All joking aside, I don't think either side in the Blue-State/Red-State face off has a monopoly on unkind views of the other, though given the 51%-48% it is a more pressing concern for those on the Blue parts of the map."

Obviously, there are some intolerant people on both sides of this divide. But, since we're really talking about mostly "purple" states, where Bush and anti-Bush voters live near one another, if not precisely next-door to each other, a dialogue must begin, at a grassroots level, if the country is going to avoid pulling itself to shreds.

(Here I quoted the "connect & communicate" blog entry I wrote on Sunday.)

From a partisan political point of view, the Democrats need to listen carefully not only to Bush voters and try to see their point of view, so that the Democrats can field candidates and put together programs that help to meet those needs (assuming they want to win some of those people - I wouldn't worry about the hidebound, intolerant ones - to the Democratic side). Democrats also need to listen very carefully to their party members and Democratic-leaning voters who didn't come out and vote this time, or who may have voted for Bush because they think he can protect them from terrorism better than Kerry or because they don't like abortion or for some other reason, in order to understand their point of view and find ways to meet their needs with candidates and programs.

At one level this is a marketing problem, which I view in the framework I helped to develop for a book I co-wrote a couple of years ago called Firebrands: Building Brand Equity in the Internet Age. The essence of the book is that brand-building at heart is the process of building loyal, trusted, long-term relationships with individual customers, by finding out what they need but aren't getting, then figuring out how to give it to them in a way that satisfies those unmet needs, keeps them coming back for more, and makes them refer the solution to their friends, family, colleagues, etc.

Great brands, in this view, don't come down from on high, imposed on customers by companies that cook them up; instead, they are formed as companies and organizations (including the Republican and Democratic parties) solve problems for people, earn their trust and loyalty - then the brand becomes the mark by which people recognize the source of a particular, satisfying solution/experience/product/service/etc.

What is the Democratic Party brand?

No matter what liberals or progressives think of Bush voters, it seems obvious to me that at some level Bush is meeting their needs, no matter how much Bush's actual policies and programs may work against their economic interests. They must feel that they get something from the Republican "brand" that they can't get from the Democratic Party. These needs probably work at a deep psychological and emotional level, and they may not be easy to understand, but it's necessary work, at least where swing voters are concerned. Find out what it is that Bush is doing for them and there's a fair chance of figuring out a way they can get that from the Democrats. There are some smart people in marketing and advertising who know how to do this, if the Democratic Party officials can't figure it out on their own. (They could read Firebrands, too.)

Online is the place to implement this approach; that's also where Democrats can connect with younger voters. The Kerry web site was a good beginning, but Democrats could do so much more. (I'm not familiar with what the Dean campaign did online, I was a bit preoccupied in the earlier part of the campaign season.)

They can start using the Web and email to supplement other methods for proactively identifying and contacting voters who are likely to resonate with the Democratic Party platform.

They can use email and Web sites to ask people what they need (from a political perspective) that they aren't currently getting - from Democrats and Republicans - and use that feedback to fine-tune Democratic Party programs and messages.

They can then use the Internet (along with other media) to educate potential voters about these programs and messages, put them in touch with each other and with specific candidates ((online communities work when properly developed and sustained), invite them to events, make them feel wanted and valued (for something above and beyond their ability to contribute financially), and help them get out to vote when the time comes, so that in the end they will vote and will elect Democratic Party candidates.

This is not rocket science, and it's not original - other folks have undoubtedly suggested something similar and have probably implemented some of it. MoveOn.org is one organization I know a little bit about that is doing some of this online community building and melding it with flesh world events and interactions.

The key is to listen very carefully to people and figure out how to meet their needs better than the other guys. Telling people what they need, or trying to scare them onto our side, won't work. Writing off 51 percent of the voters (assuming that the rumors and suspicions of systematic vote counting fraud don't turn out to be true) doesn't sound like a winning strategy, either.

Monday, November 08, 2004

no carrots, all stick

From No Carrots, All Stick: Blinkered Bush Set to Blunder Again in Iraq -- and Iran by Dilip Hiro:
With Vice-President Dick Cheney describing the presidential election result as "a broad, nationwide victory," secured on the platform of an unapologetically hard-line foreign policy, the world should expect more of the same from President George W. Bush and his administration in the "war on terror" he declared on September 12, 2001.

Specifically, this means Bush, Cheney, and their coterie of neoconservative ideologues will continue to visualize the ill-defined war on terrorism in purely military terms, and deploy the Pentagon as their primary instrument to win it. What that undoubtedly translates into is: an immediate assault on Falluja in Iraq to destroy a bastion of insurgents resisting the occupation of their country, and ratcheting up pressure on Iran under the rubric of "countering Tehran's nuclear arms ambitions."

This will take place in a context in which anti-American feeling, already rife in the Muslim world, is rising yet again in the wake of a recent report from Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. It concluded that some 100,000 Iraqi civilians had died between March 2003 (when the Bush administration with its British allies invaded Iraq) and September 2004; that the largest number of these deaths were caused by the unleashed air power of the invading and then occupying armies; and that women and children had suffered most.

In other words, the invaders may have managed to kill up to a third as many Iraqis in a year-and-a-half as President Saddam Hussein did in his 24-year dictatorial rule. This comparison led the Riyadh-based, pro-government Saudi Gazette to ask rhetorically, "If this is a war on terror, then who are the terrorists and who are the terrorized?"

Time to organize and stop this war.

10 X 10

10 X 10 is an interesting new news site that assembles a 10 X 10 grid of news photos with links to the stories they illustrate. Say the site's developers:
10x10™ ('ten by ten') is an interactive exploration of the words and pictures that define the time. The result is an often moving, sometimes shocking, occasionally frivolous, but always fitting snapshot of our world. Every hour, 10x10 collects the 100 words and pictures that matter most on a global scale, and presents them as a single image, taken to encapsulate that moment in time. Over the course of days, months, and years, 10x10 leaves a trail of these hourly statements which, stitched together side by side, form a continuous patchwork tapestry of human life.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

connect & communicate

The more post-election analysis I hear and read, and the more I think about my own experiences here on the "blue" coast and with family and friends in "red" states like Arizona, Texas and Colorado, the more I see the need for people on both sides to listen to and talk with each other. Half the voters in the US can't be "wrong" or "stupid" or whatever you want to call the people who voted for Bush (if you didn't) or against Bush (if you did). The need for connection and communication at a profound level won't be satisfied by the current news media however, judging from their performance in the run-up to the election. This is something that will have to happen at a grassroots level. I don't know which organizations and institutions will be best suited to cilitate such a project. But, I feel certain that until it does, increasing numbers of people on both sides of the political divide will feel frustrated. One reason I'm starting a new blog, Compassionate Christian, is to spotlight some of news and analysis coming from the liberal, social justice-oriented Christian movement, with the hope that this may in some small way help to break down negative and hurtful stereotypes and promote mutual understanding.

Bush will now celebrate by putting Falluja to the torch

The headline says it all in this Guardian op-ed piece by Robin Cook. True or not, it's how they see us now in so many parts of the world.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

wanted: white male fundamentalist southern homophobe to lead Democrats to victory in '08?

Does the Democratic Party really have to nominate for President in 2008 a southern man who speaks cornpone, opposes gay marriage, carries a gun, hates the rest of the world except for the countries that grovel on their knees for US approval, and prays in public? Sounds like that's what the party is thinking in the wake of this week's defeat.

Friday, November 05, 2004

17 reasons not to slit your wrists

Michael Moore offrers 17 Reasons Not to Slit Your Wrists. Numbers 14 and 15 are especially good:
14. Bush is now a lame duck president. He will have no greater moment than the one he's having this week. It's all downhill for him from here on out -- and, more significantly, he's just not going to want to do all the hard work
that will be expected of him. It'll be like everyone's last month in 12th grade -- you've already made it, so it's party time! Perhaps he'll treat the next four years like a permanent Friday, spending even more time at the ranch or in Kennebunkport. And why shouldn't he? He's already proved his point, avenged his father and kicked our ass.

15. Should Bush decide to show up to work and take this country down a very dark road, it is also just as likely that either of the following two scenarios will happen: a) Now that he doesn't ever need to pander to the Christian conservatives again to get elected, someone may whisper in his ear that he should spend these last four years building "a legacy" so that history will render a kinder verdict on him and thus he will not push for too aggressive a right-wing agenda; or b) He will become so cocky and arrogant -- and thus, reckless -- that he will commit a blunder of such major proportions that even his own party will have to remove him from office.

All aboard the Whistleblower Express!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

where is the opposition press?

If Jay Rosen is right, in this meaty essay, the time is ripe for an opposition press to expose the mendacity, greed, stupidity, and Keystone Kops inefficiencies of the Bush Administration, a bull market for left wing journalists.

Sounds good to me. Rosen's also predicting that MSNBC or CNN will position itself for liberal viewers as Fox News has done for right-wing Christians.

reality sinks in

I spent yesterday afternoon at the hospital, watching Bush claim a mandate in a waiting room with several other people who couldn't watch without muttering under their breath and swearing at the Tube.

"It's like we live in a different country," one nurse behind the registration desk said. "We didn't elect Bush. We had a landslide for Kerry here."

One thing I want to study more is the east-west split among California voters they were talking about on election night - apparently the north/south, liberal/conservative dichotomy is no more. The state rips in half, red and blue, east and west.

Pity the rest of the planet. Reading in Financial Times this morning that except for Israel and perhaps Russia, the other countries feel the world is a more dangerous place with Bush leading the U.S.

An FT editorial this morning warns:
The fact is that a hard-nosed nationalism that has been ready to wreak collateral damage abroad and infringe civil liberties at home in the perceived defence of US interests has now been democratically endorsed. That poses a challenge to America's friends as much as to its adversaries. They need to think hard about how they pursue their own interests in this new world.

But FT's front page headline speaks to a deeper, and more disturbing truth, revealing the group that stands to benefit materially from the Bush victory in the way that right-wing Christians benefit by seeing their exclusionary, patriarchal, warmongering "moral values" imposed on others : "Markets back the winning ticket". And, on page four: "Boost is likely for business-friendly initiatives."

Follow the money.

I posted the "I Voted - I Vomited" illustration at the top of the OnlineJournalist.org home page as a way of helping to move the grieving process along, and will take it down when appropriate. But, as the morning sun sweeps away the night's rain clouds, I take hope from the feisty spirit of an elderly friend, who writes in an email this morning:
I will march with you, as I did during the Vietnam War. We need to make life as difficult as we can for Bush while he wrecks the economy (think of how our debt is being financed!), the environment, the government (these tax cuts are about shrinking the government as much as anything), social security, medicare, the Supreme Court.....We have many creative people who will be able to think of all sorts of ways of creating trouble.

the rise of the "persuasion industries"

photograph from PBS

I met Doug Rushkoff through contacts in the San Francisco rave community back in the early '90s and had the opportunity to invite him to write a regular column for a short-lived publication I conceived and edited, Blaster, the first lifestyle magazine for "screenagers" (people who grow up using a computer mouse and videogame joystick). He went on to New York University, fame & glory, and is back with a new PBS documentary The Persuaders. From the PBS description of the program:
FRONTLINE takes an in-depth look at the multibillion-dollar "persuasion industries" of advertising and public relations and how marketers have developed new ways of integrating their messages deeper into the fabric of our lives. Through sophisticated market research methods to better understand consumers and by turning to the little-understood techniques of public relations to make sure their messages come from sources we trust, marketers are crafting messages that resonate with an increasingly cynical public. In this documentary essay, correspondent Douglas Rushkoff (correspondent for FRONTLINE's "The Merchants of Cool") also explores how the culture of marketing has come to shape the way Americans understand the world and themselves and how the techniques of the persuasion industries have migrated to politics, shaping the way our leaders formulate policy, influence public opinion, make decisions, and stay in power.

Considering the way that Bush and the Christian Right have hypnotized at least 50 million Americans, Rushkoff's documentary sounds like required viewing.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Kerry concedes defeat

Time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. First job for me: try to explain to an angry 17-year-old why Bush's victory is not a signal to leave the US and start over again somewhere else. Why it's important to stay and find ways to heal the wounds Bush has inflicted and will inflict.

We can stop the war.

We can stop Bush Administration injustice.

. . . . if we continue working together.

it was only a nightmare

Bush hasn't, yet, been officially declared President.

The situation looks grim.

Time to start the anti-war protests - national and international - and other direct action to influence the government, assuming the "democratic process" fails to remove Bush from office.

We've made great strides in communications and organization. Approximately half of the people in the U.S. are firmly opposed to President Bush and his policies. Let's build on that strength.

Two words: civil disobedience.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

win or lose, Bush or Kerry: stop the war

Scientist Stephen Hawking Decries Iraq War:
Britain's most famous scientist, Stephen Hawking, condemned the U.S. led invasion of Iraq (news - web sites) as a "war crime" and said Tuesday it was based on lies.

The physicist spoke at an anti-war demonstration in London's Trafalgar Square timed to coincide with the U.S. election. Protesters read out the names of thousands of Iraqis and coalition troops killed since the March 2003 invasion.

"The war was based on two lies," said Hawking. "The first was we were in danger of weapons of mass destruction and the second was that Iraq was somehow to blame for Sept. 11.

"It has been a tragedy for all the families that have lost members. As many as 100,000 people have died, half of them women and children. If that is not a war crime, what is?"

Hawking, the best-selling author of "A Brief History Of Time," was joined by other public figures. Similar events were being held in Spain, Italy, Australia, the United States and Iraq.

"Our message to the U.S. is that the war is illegal and unnecessary, and we want our troops to come home," said Andrew Burgin, a spokesman for demonstration organizer Stop the War Coalition. "We also want to highlight the enormous number of Iraqis killed in this conflict who are so often ignored."

In Trafalgar Square, hundreds of spectators holding candles or placards opposing President Bush (news - web sites) listened as speakers read the names of the dead while their images were projected onto a large screen.

One group of students from London's Imperial College waved anti-Bush signs, hoping to send a message to U.S. voters.

"If enough people show up tonight at the demonstration, I think a few more voters might notice what we're saying," said Emma Thomson, a student from Scotland who said she was able to cast a vote in Pennsylvania because she was born there.

Early exit poll data shows Kerry ahead just about everywhere. The feeling of optimism grows.


Regime change in the US.

Monday, November 01, 2004

what role did the FDA play in the vaccine crisis?

Good question, predictable answer. I pray we vote Bush out tomorrow and get things back on the right track.

day one

I've begun my NaANoWriMo novel. Only 50,000 words to go.