Life is a Mystery

31 August 2008 . Comments Off

FFR: Quarkbase

Quarkbase looks like a good way to do a whois plus extras.

29 August 2008 . Comments Off

Conventional Thoughts

On the last night of the convention we discovered the DNC’s own stream of the proceedings. I had just bought a cable to connect Mary’s laptop to our projector in the attic, so we bought pizza, pulled up the screen, installed Silverlight (gasp, I’d refused during the Olympics, but could not resist it for the convention), and turned on the stream. It turned out to be an amazing DVD-quality feed with zero commercials and zero talking heads. I can hardly believe how different this felt from the usual broadcast.

Here we had super high-quality video projected on our screen without any filtering other than someone who was selecting camera angles to show. No voiceover, no titles, not even the names of presenters put up on the screen. We just saw and heard what folks there saw and heard. It felt like we had a box seat at Invesco field. We rolled out the pizza, settled in, and enjoyed the evening.

What an evening it was, too. We were amazed as we watched the stadium fill. Amused by the wave that started going around the stands. Impressed by speaker after speaker, from Al Gore to Barney Smith. The sun slowly set and the setting became more and more dramatic.

It was getting late when Barack took the stage. By now the colors of the set had become a rich glowing complement to the color of his skin. What an incredible image. I was worried that the bar had been set too high, how could anyone satisfy expectations after all this buildup? Obama’s just a person at a podium, he has to be nervous. Look at the crowd. Understand the moment in history. How could he not be frozen by this?

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But of course, he wasn’t. He was steely, devastating in his critique, exquisite in his call, carrying the banner we have all handed him with such grace and elegance that my fears melted away. Can anyone really watch Obama in action and not know that he is ready to hold this office in trust for us all? I have never seen anyone more “presidential.”

Again it struck me how consistently Obama treats this as our campaign. Again the references were to “this campaign,” as they have been from the beginning. The chant repeated over and over was not much “Oh-Ba-Ma” but more often “Yes We Can!” Think of that, “we” can. Bill Clinton gave a terrific speech at the convention the night before, but there was a small moment that illuminated the political gap between he and Obama for me with a floodlight. Take a look at this video of Clinton’s speech, jump to just before the 15 minute mark on the clock. From the transcript:

AUDIENCE: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

CLINTON: Yes, he can, but, first, we have to elect him.

For Clinton and most politicians it is about what they can do for us, it is “my campaign” and “my qualifications.” McCain is stuck there in his critique of Obama as unqualified and a celebrity. But Obama rarely makes it about himself, he makes it about all of us. The celebrity of this campaign is not Barack, it is the movement that is audacious enough to believe we can elect him as our voice in the highest office of the land.

Last night Barack was my voice. He expressed my hope, he showed some of my anger, he named some of my dreams, he showed he cares for my people. I want my country back, I want my government to serve the people of this land, not the corporations. Barack has offered himself as a tool of that transformation. May the task not crush him because, God help us all, I intend to take him up on that offer.

28 August 2008 . Comments Off

Invesco

Yesterday I fretted about the poor design of the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Today a story in the NYT explains:

Mr. Obama’s aides had hoped to upend the traditional convention style. But the prolonged primary fight with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton left the convention in the hands of the party’s career planners. Their flashy stage design, which has been likened to an arcade, had none of the look or feel of the more spare style of the Obama brand.

None of the look and feel for sure. Where did the idea of moving the final night to Invesco come from?

Peter Gage, one of the Obama planners, said he studied photographs of Kennedy’s speech at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the only other such address to be held in an outdoor stadium in the modern television era. Mr. Gage said the circular stage in Denver was inspired by Kennedy’s.

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28 August 2008 . Comments Off

FFR: Election Map 2.0

This will be a fun site to come back to on election night. Daily Kos is working up an interactive election map that is looking pretty awesome.

27 August 2008 . Comments Off

I have a bad feeling about this…

There’s a bit of a dustup about the set design of Obama’s mile high acceptance speech location. If this picture that’s been making the rounds has any hint of truth to it, then I can only gasp in horror.

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A few months back I gushed about how nicely team Obama had framed his visit to the Excel center in Saint Paul. The warm colors, the sea of faces surrounding the candidate, the amazingly integrated it all left me eager to see what they could do with the national convention.

So far, the convention has been a design bust as far as I’m concerned. The DNC logo projected behind the speakers is awful, poking them in the head and shoulders with its sharp N. The logo on the front of the podium is even worse, combining the harsh DNC with a lopsided 08 that looks wrong in every way. I will grant that the rest of the “blossom” at the front of the convention is very nice, when cameras open up a wide enough shot, but 98% of TV time is spent either on the awful close up or the drab rest of the hall.

So I had some hope that at least Thursday’s night down the road at the football stadium would give the team a chance to bring back the warm, engaging, people centered look of the Saint Paul event. Then I saw the picture above. It reminds me of the worst graphical misstep of the primaries, that silly Obama presidential seal. You remember…

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Now they will give us an Obama capitol or White House? An Obama monument? What Obama needs is to be surrounded by people, to be conducting a movement, body surfing a wave. Enshrining him prematurely is the last thing we need. As Indy would say: “I have a bad feeling about this.”

27 August 2008 . Comments Off

FFR: Compact Calendar

Need a calendar for planning purposes? Consider basing it on the compact calendar template David Seah created. This looks like a great way to fit a year onto a page, with plenty of room to describe events.

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27 August 2008 . Comments Off

Dymaxion Map

Ever since I saw it as a kid, Buckminster Fuller’s dymaxion map (the Fuller Projection) made more sense to me than any other map of the world. We have had a wonderful print of the dymaxion map framed and slowly fading on our wall for decades.

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You can buy copies or play with this new online puzzle version.

24 August 2008 . Comments Off

FFR: Zapproved

Something to look at the next time I need a group to make a decision: Zapproved. This is a free net facilitated kind of voting.

23 August 2008 . Comments Off

Fair use more than a defense?

The EFF won the dancing baby case at the district level. As you may recall, the EFF argued in this case that Universal music should consider whether a particular use of a copyrighted work is “fair use” before they issue a DMCA “takedown” notice. The court:

A good faith consideration of whether a particular use is fair use is consistent with the purpose of the statute. Requiring owners to consider fair use will help “ensure[] that the efficiency of the Internet will continue to improve and that the variety and quality of services on the Internet will expand” without compromising “the movies, music, software and literary works that are the fruit of American creative genius.”

Of course, it is very likely that Universal will appeal. Support the EFF!

21 August 2008 . Comments Off

FFR: Geocaching

Nathaniel and I had fun geocaching a few weeks back on a field trip to Fort Snelling State Park. Mary’s new iPhone made for a great geocaching tool.

Eric Celeste / Saint Paul, Minnesota / 651.323.2009 / efc@clst.org