Life is a Mystery

22 September 2008 . Comments Off on Obama’s revised tech plan

Obama’s revised tech plan

There has been some concern today over last week’s significant revision of the Obama technology plan. I encourage you to read the plan and compare it to McCain’s plan. Two things immediately stand out for me: (1) Obama clearly supports net neutrality and (2) he makes a stronger case for how government will use technology to become more open. Well, actually, he did make a stronger case in the old plan. I hope that remains the case even though many wonderful details were eliminated in the new version.

Update: It turns out that most of those details are still available in a detailed PDF version of the plan. Whew!

22 September 2008 . Comments Off on Trick or Vote

Trick or Vote

My sister asked me for an Obama pumpkin design. I found a few on the net, but none of the logo. Recreating the logo on a pumpkin seemed simple enough, so I created a template. Maybe it can be part of your very own trick or vote campaign. Enjoy!


21 September 2008 . Comments Off on Sell out

Sell out

Why are we so eager to sell our future? Why do we want to bail out bankers who robbed our country with money that belongs to our children? I am utterly baffled by the $700B bailout being proposed by the US Treasury. It seems a bald attempt to pay off friends of this corrupt administration. I’d rather let them crash and burn. Either way this is going to hurt me, quite a lot, I imagine. This plan does not in any way guarantee success, demand reform, or allow the public to participate in any “upside” win downstream. On the other hand, it does hand Treasury a blank check and puts their actions above the rule of law. “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.” Haven’t we had enough of that already. I say “no!” to this outrageous money grab. Let’s look for an alternative. Let failure be failure and let’s pick ourselves back up again. Not to mention, let’s prosecute some of the robbers for what they’ve done.

19 September 2008 . Comments Off on RA: Football

RA: Football

Nathaniel shared this refrigerator art with me the other day. I don’t know how he got the idea to play tackle football, but he seems to be loving it. He looks a bit scary with all his pads on!


19 September 2008 . Comments Off on Oshkosh Puzzle

Oshkosh Puzzle

Each morning I get the front pages of a set of papers assembled for me by a script I wrote a few months back. I’ve picked hometown papers (Minneapolis, Cleveland, Oshkosh, Boston, Vienna) plus a few big names (NYT, WSJ). I just glance at these to get a sense of the world around me.

The last two days, the Oshkosh paper has really puzzled me. We are going through the biggest financial meltdown in at least the last 20 years and there is no mention on the front page. Even Vienna talks about it. Not Oshkosh. I knew small town America could be isolated, but this seems downright weird. Does anyone have any idea why? Is the paper owned by some odd breed of conservative who does not feel like Wall Street woes have an impact on small town folk?

Note, today they devote almost the whole front page to a McCain/Palin rally, still not a word about the massive bailouts in the offing.

Here are my front pages for Thursday and Friday (warning, these are large files, around 5MB each). See what I mean?

16 September 2008 . Comments Off on In case I don’t get published

In case I don’t get published

I usually end up in conversation with like minds, people I more or less agree with. I find it harder and harder to find civil conversation with folks who disagree. Better than reading the rest of this post might be reading this summary of issues for undecideds at Daily Kos. (Thanks, Mary!)

Over the past few weeks an email thread started by my brother-in-law has brought me into contact with someone who supports Bush and McCain, and this has forced me to hone my arguments in a whole new way. We’ve been going at it for weeks, so the thread is getting very long. It’s also long because neither of us is exactly terse! In any case, for the record and in case anyone else is interested, I’m going to copy portions of this thread below, just read on to see one conversation between R and D in this campaign. Read the rest of this entry »

15 September 2008 . Comments Off on Peace Plate

Peace Plate

I’ve been curious about CafePress for a while. Now I’ve created my first item there. Take a look! It’s a license plate frame based on the Italian peace (pace) flag.


12 September 2008 . Comments Off on Blink


My favorite episode of Dr. Who is also one that reveals a world I don’t want to live in. “Blink” imagines a race that cannot move unless you look away. When unseen, they can move, and they are evil. The strategy for dealing with them? Don’t blink. Of course the problem with staring at them all the time is you can’t get anything else done either.

Lucky for me, I know that Dr. Who is fiction. Revealing, but fiction. Unfortunately there are some who think an unblinking focus is the right way to operate in the real world.

Here’s something I saw today that scares me (hat tip to Andrew). It scares me because I have been frightened by Bush’s style of decision making: minimal consulting, quick deciding, full steam ahead, never reconsidering. I fear that is how we got into a war with a country that was not an active threat to us and why we stayed in it so long. When McCain made his VP pick after only meeting Palin once, with minimal vetting, I began to see the same dynamic in his decision making process and I quake in my boots (well, sandals, actually). Then Palin answered a question for Charlie Gibson last night about her own process when considering the offer for the ticket to seek the second-highest office in the land…

GIBSON: And you didn’t say to yourself, “Am I experienced enough? Am I ready? Do I know enough about international affairs? Do I — will I feel comfortable enough on the national stage to do this?”

PALIN: I didn’t hesitate, no.

GIBSON: Didn’t that take some hubris?

PALIN: I — I answered him yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can’t blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we’re on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can’t blink.

So I didn’t blink then even when asked to run as his running mate.

Is anyone else frightened by leaders who are “wired in a way” that they “can’t blink”. Who charge ahead without making sure they have some basic grasp of the lay of the land? Did you catch her answer on the “Bush Doctrine”? Here was a vice presidential candidate who didn’t even know that her current president had articulated a dramatic new foreign policy doctrine that justifies preemptive war. The doctrine that was the foundation of the war in Iraq, the “mission that we’re on,” and she had no clue.

Is anyone else afraid of what this impulsive decision making style will do if given another four years to become our calling card around the world?

Sure, Obama is deliberative to a fault sometimes. But he has demonstrated such a great ability to assemble good minds around him. McCain mocks his consulting “three hundred experts” before making a decision, but this kind of consultation and open process, one that allows a picture of the real world to emerge before decisions are made based on false assumptions, this is what I feel is so vital for our country today.

7 September 2008 . Comments Off on Facing Facts

Facing Facts

An email exchange got me rolling this morning and I thought I’d share it here. It started when Mary quoted the Wikipedia to illuminate Barak Obama’s community organizing accomplishments.

After four years in New York City, Obama moved to Chicago to work as a community organizer for three years from June 1985 to May 1988 as director of the Developing Communities Project (DCP), a church-based community organization originally comprising eight Catholic parishes in Greater Roseland (Roseland, West Pullman, and Riverdale) on Chicago’s far South Side.[12][14] During his three years as the DCP’s director, its staff grew from 1 to 13 and its annual budget grew from $70,000 to $400,000, with accomplishments including helping set up a job training program, a college preparatory tutoring program, and a tenants’ rights organization in Altgeld Gardens.[15]

Her respondent replied…

Thank you for your response by sending the info from Wikipedia. I will make an attempt to look into it. As you know, Wikipedia, is kind of a community organized “encyclopedia” is not the last word on anything because anybody who reads it can make changes in its content. There is no final word in Wikipedia. I’m sure that you have other more reliable sources that you could send me. In the meantime I will assume that what you sent me is accurate.

As far as your other remark about “executive experience” is concerned, perhaps we should have an understanding of the definition of terms. An executive is someone who makes decisions and is ultimately responsible for those decisions which effect numerous people. The ultimate executive in the country is the president; in a state is the governor; in a city is the mayor. Every executive has a sign on his desk, whether he or she likes it or not, THE BUCK STOPS HERE. Obama has not had that kind of experience yet. Obama has a public voting record of what he did as a state senator. We all know how he voted on 130 occasions. An executive does not have that luxury.

The commander of a large air wing does have to make executive decisions on a daily basis.

Actually, I’d suggest that the Wikipedia is one of the most reliable sources you can reference. It is well “policed” by it’s community and has strict rules on citation. Especially controversial articles, like the Obama article, get especially good attention.

The passage Mary quoted includes citations for all its facts from Who’s Who in America, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the New Republic, the Boston Globe, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, to name just a few. You are welcome to indulge in “data free research” (as my mom calls it) to form your opinions, but if you want a bit of data, the Wikipedia is not a bad place to start, as long as you don’t allow it to become your exclusive source.

As to executive ability: I’d agree, the good executives have a sign like “the buck stops here” on there desks. The better execs even mean it. But I’d say that one of the most “experienced” execs in the country would be George Bush, and he is anything but a buck-stops-here kind of guy. He’s more a blame-the-other-guy kind of executive. His excuses range from “poor intelligence” to “evil left wing media” and he wriggles out of any blame for any mistake. No decent exec is going to avoid making mistakes, but the best seek out strong insight into the reality of the situation around them and own their errors when they make them, adjusting strategy as required. “Experience” does not tell you much about how one will perform in an office like the presidency. Besides which, McCain has no more executive “experience” than Obama, so the point is rather moot. In fact, in the one executive role we can compare side by side, how they run their presidential campaigns, it is pretty clear that Obama is by far the more gifted executive.

I believe the more urgent point is which candidate is really willing to look at the world as it really is and find the best course for America in that world. The Bush administration has operated as though the lies it tells itself and us will become truth through repetition. Then they make decisions based on those lies which end up being incredibly wrong-headed. Fiction does not become truth through repetition. McCain seems happy to do the same, and his latest decision (Palin) is just more of the same. He can repeat as often as he like that she is qualified to be president, but you have to have pretty big blinders on to buy that fiction. If you like living in a fairy tale world where America is always number one and the rest of the world always bends to our will even if the message is being carried by a gifted hockey-mom who believes we are on a mission from God, by all means, vote McCain, he’s your man.

But if you think we need to adjust our world-view a bit, to consult real experts in foreign policy, to be nimble on our feet when dealing with real foreign power, ready to adjust strategy and consider alternatives, then you should be considering the qualities Obama has displayed during this long campaign and career. He is not afraid to face the real world, he is not afraid to draw the “best and brightest” around him, he is not even afraid to change is mind and choose the best path that presents itself at a given time. He will build a real “administration” not just a White House desperately managing a message. He will bring new blood to Washington that will help guide our government to a wiser course. He does not propose to do this alone, this campaign is not about him or McCain: it is about us and how ready we are to roll up our sleeves, face the real world, and work to change the course of our country.

We can start by facing facts, like those in the Wikipedia.

5 September 2008 . Comments Off on Retweeting the Revolution

Retweeting the Revolution

Fascinating: a tweeter named @notq who became a defacto hub of information for protesters, medics, and media during the RNC convention this week turns out to have been doing his work from Arizona. This story shows both how twitter is growing in importance as a communication mechanism during ongoing events (not just for conferences anymore!) and how people far removed from physical events can take on critical roles in our networked world.

Eric Celeste / Saint Paul, Minnesota / 651.323.2009 /