Monday, December 31, 2007

Open morning

Golden sunshine, heavy with promise, cuts across the mist rising from the cold flowing Ohio river of December's last day.

The last day brings a host of last things...

Sitting at the breakfast table across from The Saint (my wife, who must be a saint to have put up with me these past 25 years). Fresh coffee, a two egg omelette, three sausage links and two slices of buttered toast. It won't be the last time sitting across the table...but it will likely be the last of the cardio-challenging breakfasts.

Inexorably the river flows...

Off to the office - yes, working on New Years Eve... I could have taken a vacation day - but there are those last sniggling year-end-roll-over issues that Information Systems Administrators need to watch over. So working today isn't really a bad thing - I would have been called in anyway. Besides, it is very quiet today... everyone else, well, almost everyone else opted to take the vacation day...

...and the river flows...

Open afternoon

I broke the mirror of my life
and cut myself
trying to pick up the pieces

...and the river flows...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Open Darkness

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan - Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated...

I am heart broken.

I did not know Ms Bhutto. I did not know her political views. I did not know her social views. I did not know her religious views.

I believed that in an open and democratic process Ms Bhutto represented the possibility of change.

I believe that Ms Bhutto was singled out as much for her gender as for any other value she may have held or supported.

I believe that Pakistan _and_ the world has lost an opportunity to grow.

We, as a world society, are less for this atrocity.

Open Travesty

Pakistan's Bhutto killed by bombing

(Agencies)
Updated: 2007-12-27 22:09

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan - Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday in a suicide attack that also killed at least 20 others at a campaign rally, aides said.


Pakistan's former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto wears a shawl presented by her supporters, a gesture of respect, during her visit to Peshawar, Pakistan, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2007. [Agencies]

Open Taxes

As we approach the tax season the disparity of who pays more taxes will again raise its attention grabbing head. And as a group we howl... Beth-who-does-not-blog-yet, knowing my penchant for moral puzzles, sent me this link

BUSINESS | December 25, 2007
Professor Cites Bible in Faulting Tax Policies
By DAVID CAY JOHNSTON
The work of a professor at the University of Alabama Law School has prompted some other scholars to scour religious texts to explore the moral basis of tax and spending policies.
I found this to be an interesting read as well as a fearless assertion in light of the author's criticism leveled at her home state. Without offering the specifics the gist of the article is that there is a disparity between how much the poor pay and how much the wealthy pay in taxes.

Formal notation: There is a disparity between the amount of taxes paid by the wealthy and the amount paid by the poor.

[Firestorm Alert]

The issue of the disparity between the amount of taxes paid by the wealthy and the amount of taxes paid by the poor IS A SMOKE SCREEN!!!

It effectively prevents us from focusing on the real issue.
Changing my tax rate by a couple of percentage points either way will not affect my personal economic standing significantly. Changing the tax rate for the wealthy 10's of percentage points will not affect my personal economic standing significantly!

This disparity issue only serves to obscure what will actually affect my personal economic standing: Government Spending. What is the government doing with the taxes that it is taking from us, albeit inequitably.

Here... is this really good stewardship of our taxes?

Cost of the War in Iraq
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To see more details, click here.

480 BILLION as of this writing... Those monies invested in Education and Health Care would have a significant effect on my personal economic situation.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Open Weave

If you have read me before you know that I have taken a big gulp of the Google-Aid. So you won't be surprised at all to hear that I was an early adopter of the Google Browser Sync extension for Firefox. Across platforms my Firefox experience is [almost] the same. Now I should mention that this extension is just a bit idio-sync-ratic. I mean, I have lost my bookmarks once or twice but... seems that backups abound on the other platforms so... only a little blood, a little harm, so only a little foul.

Caveat: Google is a search engine. It is intent on acquiring data and then drawing conclusions, specifically merchandising meta-data.

Mozilla enters the sync-ronicity fray offering ...

The general idea is that by utilizing a Mozilla online services backend, users can store data such as bookmarks and history. That data can be synchronized with their local browser or even multiple browsers.
...

According to the Mozilla Labs blog post announcing the Weave effort, one of the goals of the project is to, "ensure that it is easy for people to set up their own services with freely available open standards-based tools."

Mozilla also expects the Weave effort to grow into a social effort, enabling a user's online hosted data to be shared and accessed by friends. The group also plans to build out tools and APIs so that developers can expand and utilize the platform.

- InternetNews
Just what we need...
  • YASN - Yet Another Social Network
  • "a user's online hosted data to be shared and accessed by friends" ??? Maybe someone from F*ceB00k will give them a call and explain the facts of life to them. Sheeeeesh!
  • ...and just what will Mozilla do with this wealth of meta-data? To whom will they sell my personal information?
I don't know what better fits this situation: 'Better the devil you know' or 'Out of the frying pan, into the fire'.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Open meaning

This all started for me when Jeremy at too many topics, too little time. pointed me at ...

sean cubitt's blog

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Crisis in the meaning of meaning

Meaning was the once-natural sequence of being, knowing, interpreting, judging, willing and acting . It is this sequence which no longer operates as it did in earlier times.
...
(Please read the entire post - it is well worth it. -Papa)
Which in turn prompted me to reflect on an article that Beth (who doesn't blog, yet) pointed my way from ...

Notebook

Sat Dec 01, 2007 at 01:40:42 PM PST

...

I had thought we had decided as a nation that internment camp was a monstrous thing. What foolish thought; it needed only a new era, and someone new to exhume it and give it the kiss of diplomacy, and now even that is a reasonable pair of words to utter.

Truth, though, seems the coldest word of all. We have decided that truth does not mean truth, and from that atomic alteration, all the other words reorganize themselves in seismic shifts. If truth does not mean truth, then journalism does not mean journalism, and law does not mean law, and freedom does not mean freedom, and equitable does not mean equitable, and every other word can be decapitated as well, left on the ground like so many fallen soldiers in an unexplainable war. Is one of our presidential candidates secretly a Muslim, and hiding it from us? Who cares, if the accusation can be made? Does a new law have a claimed effect? Who cares what the facts themselves might say, if there is someone to dispute the point?

Meaning doesn't. Truth isn't. Law does not mean law. Freedom does not mean freedom.

So am I surprised at all when ... From the Desk of David Pogue

The Generational Divide in Copyright Morality

...

In an auditorium of 500, no matter how far my questions went down that garden path, maybe two hands went up. I just could not find a spot on the spectrum that would trigger these kids' morality alarm. They listened to each example, looking at me like I was nuts.

Finally, with mock exasperation, I said, "O.K., let's try one that's a little less complicated: You want a movie or an album. You don't want to pay for it. So you download it."

There it was: the bald-faced, worst-case example, without any nuance or mitigating factors whatsoever.

"Who thinks that might be wrong?"

Two hands out of 500.

...

I don't pretend to know what the solution to the file-sharing issue is. (Although I'm increasingly convinced that copy protection isn't it.)

I do know, though, that the TV, movie and record companies' problems have only just begun. Right now, the customers who can't even *see* why file sharing might be wrong are still young. But 10, 20, 30 years from now, that crowd will be *everybody*. What will happen then?

Finally I stumbled upon this offering from Winston Rand...

The Appearance of Governance…

The world is governed more by appearances than realities, so that it is fully as necessary to seem to know something as to know it. — Daniel Webster

Then again, some who neither seem to know anything, nor actually know anything, like to pretend play to be king. They are most dangerous when they really begin to believe that they are above the law of the land, that the Constitution is just a “damned piece of paper”, that they infallible since their words and deeds are directed by their god, and that their own wants and needs come before the wishes of the people they are supposedly governing. Do you know of anyone like that?

I have done justice to no individual contributor in citing these works. I suppose if anything I have used their lanehartwell images and included them in this textual montage...to further my own personal objectives.

Each in their own rite speaks to a form of cultural or social disintegration.

In my simplistic view this is a harbinger of great catastrophe. I believe that as societal and cultural values disintegrate a pervasive fear grows. It is the fear that has served as the foundation for worst of our human atrocities. This fear is not substantial or palpable but just the reverse. This fear is a societal and cultural vacuum, the very absence of values.

History is clear that horrendous things have risen up to fill such vacuums of fear. The Inquisition, Witch Hunts, Racism, the Holocaust, Apartheid, Ethnic Cleansing, Terrorist Extremists, and my personal favorite; the "War on Terror". In each case oppression has been the method of resolution. In each case violence has been the tool.

When we as a society and culture surrender the meaning of our language we surrender the meaning of our thinking. Effectively we cannot think. Without the power of our intellect to mitigate the irrationality of our fears we can only react. Unscrupulous and unsavory "leaders" down through history have leveraged this reaction at each turn usually to increase their own power and wealth.

How then can I prevent this disintegration? How can I insure the meaning of my words? How can I safeguard the effectiveness of my thinking? I can do so by bonding my words to my being. My words mean who I am. In turn my life is the manifestation of the meaning of my words. I am charged with the responsibility of upholding the meaning of my words. I am responsible for my actions that are predicated on the meanings of my words.

My word is my bond.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Open Stuff.com



... the Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

Open Searching

"...Searching for freedom, dignity, justice, equality, Shura and all the remaining Islamic values which are missing.. for Raghad and Khitab (his daughters)."

Fouad Al Farhan

Saudi Arabia added yet another accolade to its freedom of speech record by arresting its first blogger. Fouad Al Farhan, considered by many as being the dean of Saudi bloggers for being among the first to blog in his country using his real name, has been arrested in Jeddah. No further news is available for the reasons for his detention.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Open Protocol

This Mary Jo Foley announcement may well have the greatest impact of all time on Free/Libre Open Source Software...

December 20th, 2007

Microsoft and Samba finally come to terms over Windows protocols

Posted by Mary Jo Foley @ 12:49 pm

After years of public disagreement over ensuring interoperability between their respective software, Microsoft and Samba have come to terms. And not surprisingly, each vendor is offering quite a different spin on the licensing agreement they unveiled on December 20.

Microsoft and Samba finally come to terms over Windows protocolsIt took an intermediary, the Protocol Freedom Information Foundation (PFIF) — a non-profit organization created by the Software Freedom Law Center — to hand off the Microsoft protocol documentation that Samba said it needed to make its Unix/Linux file/print sharing products work properly with Windows.

According to a press release issued December 20, Samba is paying Microsoft a one-time sum of 10,000 Euros, after which the PFIF will make available to the Samba Team, under non-disclosure, “the documentation needed for implementation of all of the workgroup server protocols covered by the European Union decision.” (The EU decision to which this refers is the Microsoft’s loss of its appeal to overturn the European Commission’s 2004 antitrust decision against the company.)

Not surprisingly, Samba and Microsoft had quite different spins on today’s news.

The cynic in me wonders just how much Microsoft will change the protocol when they release MinWin. (I so much so wish for a level playing field and a sense of fair play.)

Open Exposure

Lane Hartwell has turned a great exposure possibility into a "I won't give your work another look" instance.

Let us get a grip on this situation. If...IF... a Hartwell image was being used to create an income stream for a separate party then I can understand Lane's objections. In the instance of the Bubble video there was no attempt to capitalize on the work of any given individual.

I see this as a litigious moment. "I can raise a stink because the letter of the law supports my sanctimonious position." Let common sense take a back seat to my egotistical "concerns".

So here is the laughable part of this whole thing.... if... IF Lane Hartwell had acknowledged the use of her photograph and... AND... didn't make a whiny mess... people would have surfed to her site in droves. Perhaps evens spending a few dollars on her photography.

As it stands now... "I won't give your work another look" regardless of the quality - you see, I can stand on the pinnacle of principle too. (But I won't lose any money on the deal. So sorry.)

Open Blogging (Pt. 2)

In the previous post Open Blogging I echoed a couple of reports about Zhai Minglei. He is a Chinese blogger/publisher who was "visited" by authorities. I became a little concerned when I couldn't find any more information about his circumstances. Then I came across this report posted at Civic China. ..

December 2, 2007

Short Update

Filed under: china, censorship, current events, ngo, personal, politics, blogs — Peter Marolt & Sophia Ong @ 12:21 am

According to the latest post on his Blog named “One Man’s Paper” (一个人的报纸), Zhai Minglei has safely returned home. For now.

After copying it, the authorities have also returned his harddisk.

Mr. Zhai spent long hours trying to convince the police that Minjian has done nothing illegal whatsoever.

We hope that this effort will reach the right ears and eventually bring about some positive development!

...and I am prepared for the worst. This is the price to be paid in struggling for freedom of speech and media freedom. - Zhai Minglei, November 29, 2007

Open Commentary

The Accidental Russophile mentioned...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Putin Announced as Time Magazine's "Man of the Year"

Perhaps not-so-surprising announcement regarding Time Magazine naming Vladimir Putin as their "Man of the Year" for 2007. Reuters has the story of one of the more negative sounding pronouncements of "Man of the Year" in recent memory.

Whether you like the "Man of the Year" or not you have to respect the man...
To commemerate the occasion, I'm sharing the following Putin cut-out figure. Now you too can have a little Putin, Man of the Year, watching over your desk!
I am folding mine now.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Thirty-one Bullets?



Ali Shafeya Al-Moussawi

Born December 16th, 1984. Killed on December 14th, 2007.

... Ali Shafeya Al-Moussawi was a contributor to the video blog, Alive in Baghdad. He was killed while at home, during a raid by the Iraqi National Guard in his street. Ali took 31 bullets between the chest and head and died immediately. Ali was not the only victim of that raid. Hussain, his neighbour, was found dead. Hussain's brother and nephew have disappeared too.

Ali is survived by his mother and sister. Alive in Baghdad are collecting donations to help the family with the funeral costs.


Thirty-one Bullets?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Open Frustration




Perhaps you have noticed this red block in the sidebar. Originally I was pleased to support the fight against Breast Cancer by displaying a well designed campaign logo/poster design by the Manderin Design group. I finally decided to find out what became of the excellent design and why the block turned solid red. Much to my dismay I find that the Manderin Design group has not renewed it's domain registration - which is tantamount to dissolution of the business. A sad day.

The battle against Breast Cancer remains. The logo is gone, the fight goes on.

[Spelling correction - Mandarin Design]

Friday, December 14, 2007

Steroid Baseball and Jackass 2.5

Wikipedia asserts...

"There's a sucker born every minute" is a phrase often credited to P.T. Barnum (1810 – 1891), an American showman. It is generally taken to mean that there are (and always will be) a lot of gullible people in the world.
However, when Barnum's biographer tried to track down when Barnum had uttered this phrase, all of Barnum's friends and acquaintances told him it was out of character. Barnum's credo was more along the lines of "there's a customer born every minute" — he wanted to find ways to draw new customers in all the time because competition was fierce and people bored easily.
Emphasis mine...

Whether you characterize them as 'suckers' or 'customers' H. L. Mencken hit the proverbial nail on the head... "
No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."

Just as sure as Paramount Studios is releasing Jackass 2.5 somebody will get the bright idea to sanction Steroid Baseball. Just look at what the entertainment industry has done with rasslin'.

Coming soon to a television stadium near you... Step right up ladies and gentlemen, see the mighty Slugger with the 42" biceps... He can hit that pill a country mile, step right up!


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Open w00t

December 12, 2007
'w00t' Crowned Word of Year by U.S. Dictionary


"w00t," an expression of joy coined by online gamers, was crowned word of the year on Tuesday by the publisher of a leading U.S. dictionary.

Massachusetts-based Merriam-Webster said "w00t" -- typically spelled with two zeros -- reflects a new direction in the American language led by a generation raised on video games and cell phone text-messaging.

It's like saying "yay," the dictionary said.

"It could be after a triumph or for no reason at all," Merriam-Webster said.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Enough!

Open Bemoaning

I followed Boyd back through Scoble all the way to Gates (sorta)...
to hear the moaning and bemoaning of corporate software initiatives and the relative 'sexiness' of them... SHEEEEESH!!! Give us a break! Can't you guys hear the paradigm shifting? It is not corporate software or the individual as a group or even sexiness!

People have just begun to wake up to what their real computing needs are.

The personal computing revolution will not be televised, streamed, meme'd, podcast or blogged... the PC revolution will be live ... lead by little children carrying OLPCs. People are waking up to the fact that they do not need HUGE personal computers running BLOATED software.

People are realizing the Google's Documents & Spreadsheets are all they really need. Businesses large and small are beginning to understand that we are not headed for a paper-less environment. We are headed for a paper-paradigm-less environment. As long as applications and programs were/are designed to render a final product on paper we are stuck in the paper-paradigm.

There are two great examples of this paradigm shift. The first of course are web browsers. Their final 'product' is not designed to be rendered (printed) on paper. So web browsers and by association web sites do not have to conform to the paper-paradigm.

Lotus Notes in my opinion is another great example of the paper-paradigm-less computing environment. Very early on criticism was leveled at Lotus Notes that its e-mail interface was built on a poor word processor. I argued then as I do today that Lotus Notes was never designed to be printed on paper. I found that if I left my e-mail messages inside Lotus Notes they formated perfectly. It was only when I tried to print them on paper that the formating appeared to change. I attribute this concern about format change to a deep seated paper-paradigm expectation. As soon as I moved away from that expectation I was able to accept Lotus Notes formating as it is. As it should be - in its native digital form.

Now I realize that I have dragged you the long way around the barn to get to this point but... people are beginning to realize that they don't need paper-paradigm computing applications or platforms. I am confident that we will see a new PC revolution, albiet a very small form revolution, with the advent of the small-form laptops.

Coming up next: In my next post I will offer up the paper-paradigm-less challenge.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Human Rights Day (Reprint)

From Global Voices Online...

Happy Human Rights Day

Today, is International Human Rights Day and while this is good cause for reflection (and depression) about the terrible state of affairs in the world, there are also some remarkable victories to celebrate. Activists around the world are finding new, innovative ways to use technology to tell their stories, and fight back against censorship and oppression.

Yesterday, six Global Voices bloggers on different continents participated in a conference call with Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson, and Graça Machel. You can listen to an audio recording of the conversation here (thanks to Preetam Rai).

These heroes of human right have recenltly joined forces with Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi and eight others in a new group called The Elders. And they are asking the world's bloggers and citizen media activists to help them in their campaign to make human rights more relavant to individuals around the world.

A new campaign

The Elders new online campaign, Every Human has Rights is aiming to get as many signatures as possible on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

On openDemocracy's women's rights blog, 5050, I wrote:

… Desmond Tutu said he would like to see “a billion” signatures on it. I wonder how many have even read it? Considering the enormous mailing lists of organizations like Amnesty International, UNICEF, Action Aid, and other who are partnering in the effort, it shouldn’t take too long to reach the first million signatures. But 1 billion signatures? Has that even been done before?

Open Headlines

From Datamation

Headlines I Never Expected to Read

Warning sounded over 'flirting robots'

Microsoft pulls plug on potty-mouth Santa

How Your Creepy Ex-Co-Workers Will Kill Facebook

Your Computer Thinks You're Lazy

Cops: More Smoke Toad Venom to Get High

White House Mum On Destroyed CIA Tapes*

* Just kidding. This one's no surprise at all.

Posted by Chris Nerney at December 10, 2007 01:47 PM

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Open Silence

Silence should be put on the endangered list.

We live out in the county. That is a way of saying 'out in the country' or 'out in the sticks' or 'out in the boonies'. Sure the road out front is two-lane blacktop. And yes, the "highway" that is half a mile away is two-lane blacktop as well but out here at the 12 Mile marker we are about as far away from things as a body can get. Why, any farther away and ya'll start gettin' closer to somethin' else. If you get my meaning, if ya'll catch my drift...

So I made a point of pausing the most excellent work of The James Quintet. That leaves only the chiclet clicking of this laptop's keyboard and the rhythmic ticking of the two battery driven clocks that are in audible range. If you open your mouth slightly (improves the acoustic resonance - lets you hear better) you can make out the low rain slick whisper of the occasional car on on the highway.

Returning from town this morning after dropping my eldest off early I absentmindedly reached to turn on the car radio. I thought to myself how comforting it would be to hear the familiar NPR Weekend Edition. Then I stopped (not the car) and asked just why is it so comforting?

Certainly it is familiar - like hearing from an old friend. It is part of my vehicular ritual - listening to NPR during my regular morning and afternoon commutes. I also noted that the sound of the radio covers a multitude of niggling little 'road' noises - those little audio reminders that I am driving a 10 year old car that really wants a little more TLC than it is receiving.

I occurs to me there is one other reason, one personal pressing reason that I want something on the radio, something comforting. I really don't want to be left in my own personal silence. I don't want to have to listen to myself. I don't want to hear what I truly have to say.

If sound were a drug I would be the worst kind of junkie. Jonesing when the music isn't playing. Getting the shakes and the delerium tremins when the TV isn't on and blaring. (How about those odd moments when the TV is on but the volume is off?) Heck fire, I've even taken to talking to myself just to fill up the silent spots.

Now I am curious. Just what would I say if I would just shut up and listen.

Say "Yes!" to the James Quintet

Sometimes it is so few words

Thank you Betsy Devine ...

Our mother’s belief system, summed up in four lines: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without.”

Friday, December 07, 2007

Christmas List (Rev. 002)

From the wonderfully twisted mind of Platicus at Sandwich Flats...

The "Fatal Attraction" Kitchen Set

I wan' it, I wan' it, I wan' it... NOW!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Christmas List (Rev. 001)

Here is something fun to say...

...a silicon photonic wave guide...
I want one...or a few... hundred.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Open & Closed


Joi Ito received this when attempting to access Twitter...


While the United Arab Emirates are well within their rights to block objectionable content it is imperative that we see first hand the result of their actions.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Open the door



Thanks Frank (RIP)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Open Pains of Glass

When I posted "Open little "w" windows - MinWin" I tried to put the best possible spin on a commodity that I grudgingly endorse, Microsoft Windows. As an IT professional I have to embrace Windows even if I find them contemptible. When I learned about MinWin I thought there might be some redeeming value... until I heard this

Monday, December 3

Maximum Wait for MinWin, Windows 7.0

By The VAR Guy

...

Yes, Microsoft needs to address its bloatware problems. It’s time to put Windows on a diet. But MinWin and its desktop operating system personality — Windows 7 — won’t arrive till 2010. Yet CRN is predicting that MinWin could “Soothe Vista Headaches.” Wow. That’s quite a leap of faith.

TWO THOUSAND AND TEN ?!?!?
You have got to be kidding me. Listen to this...

Microsoft Partners: Use Of Downgrade Rights Is Surging

By Kevin McLaughlin, CMP Channel
4:49 PM EST Mon. Dec. 03, 2007

Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT) claims that adoption of Windows Vista and Office 2007 is chugging along nicely, with more than 88 million Vista licenses and 71 million Office licenses sold in the past year.

But these numbers belie the fact that some organizations just don't see the value in upgrading to Vista and Office 2007, and are perfectly content with XP and Office 2003. Many solution providers are seeing surging interest in downgrade rights, which Microsoft offers to business users of both Vista and Office, and which allow companies to use previous versions of Microsoft software.

Emphasis mine! This is the final tolling of the Microsoft death knell. "Surging interest" in downgrading from Vista to XP means that Microsoft's income stream will shortly dry up to a trickle. Couple that with a 'wait until 2010' forecast for the future and I can only ask if Microsoft can survive its own desolation?


It used to be that Linux was a fringe alternative. Now it is looking like the mainstream choice.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Open Blogging

Amid the raging controversy of whether blogging is dead comes a not so quiet report from Rebecca McKinnon ...

Is Web2.0 a wash for free speech in China?

Zml ComputerThis is a picture of Zhai Minglei's computer after his hard drive was removed and confiscated on Thursday.

Blogger and publisher of the recently-shut-down grassroots newspaper "Minjian," Zhai posted the photo on Friday along with an account of the questioning he had undergone that afternoon. See John Kennedy's translation of Zhai's Thursday blog post describing how his home was raided. Friday's post is a long account, which hopefully somebody will translate in full. His hard drive was returned to him, with "Minjian"-related material removed.

After reading Rebecca's excellent reporting along with associated articles I am ashamed that I even dabble in the "is blogging dead" spit-fest. How easily I (we) are distracted (again) by bright baubles and glittering trinkets. How quickly we rise to the self importance of who is Scoble-izing whom and what does Calacanis have to say about that...

China: NGO blogger’s house raided, hard drive confiscated


In an urgent post [zh] on 1bao this morning, Zhai writes:

At just after 10 this morning, on November 29, 2007, five people from the Shanghai Municipality Cultural Market Administrative Enforcement Squad (three men, two women) suddenly showed up at my home. Three of them produced identification, two did not, and they proceeded to search through every room and every corner of my house. Even the paper in my printer was confiscated, along with my last remaining copies of the forty-one issues of Minjian. At the same time, they demanded to search my home computer. They searched through files on the computer, and even removed the hard drive which they took with them. The reason they gave was my involvement in work on the illegal publication Minjian.

I told them:
1. Minjian is internal material pertaining to the Civil Society Center at Sun Yat-sen University, and not something I have published privately.
2. Minjian is non-profit.
3. Minjian contains nothing pornographic reactionary or related to religious minorities.

I respectfully asked them to work appropriately and in good faith as they carry out their work.
As they left, they told me that on the afternoon of the 30th, tomorrow, I am scheduled to undergo an investigation.

This is most likely connected to the notice I posted online informing readers of Minjian’s closure [zh], and I am prepared for the worst. This is the price to be paid in struggling for freedom of speech and media freedom.

Fortunately, I was able to express myself fully in [zh] the online notice, and it is also my formal statement in this matter: the shutting down of Minjian was illegal, a violation of academic freedom, of freedom of the press, and of media freedom in general.

Zhai signs off in a solemn, but carefully-worded tone; Minjian translates to ‘the civil,’ or ‘that among the people’:

Pass this news on to as many readers as possible, tell them to take proper care of Minjian, to appeal on behalf of Minjian.
[…]
Yours,

Zhai Minglei
November 29, 2007

...and I am prepared for the worst. This is the price to be paid in struggling for freedom of speech and media freedom.
Can we even comprehend "for the "worst"? Incarceration? Being held incommunicado? Imprisoned for the expression of beliefs of freedom?

Oh yeah, blogging sure is dead.

GV Advocacy


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Open little "w" windows - MinWin

Microsoft has driven the last nail in Vista's coffin if the reports about MinWin are true.

Microsoft Partners: MinWin Could Soothe Vista Headaches

By Kevin McLaughlin, CMP Channel
7:19 PM EST Fri. Nov. 30, 2007


In the year that has passed since Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT) released Windows Vista to business users, the operating system has gained a reputation in the channel as a bloated memory hog that many companies are avoiding like a trip to the dentist.

But Microsoft partners have a more positive opinion of Windows 7, the next generation of Windows that Microsoft expects to ship in the 2010 timeframe. That's because Windows 7 will be based on MinWin, a scaled down version of the Windows core that will also serve as the framework for Windows Server and Windows Media Center.

MinWin's source code base takes up about 25 megabytes on disk, compared to about 4 gigabytes for Vista. Solution providers see this as a sign that Microsoft has learned its lesson from trying to cram too much into the Windows OS, and some feel that Windows 7 will be a roaring success in the market.

From an end-user and "integrator" perspective this means never having to say I am Vista. It also means another 12-18 month delay before I make another significant Microsoft investment.

The silver lining that I can hope for is that with a 25MB foot print Microsoft can create a unified cross platform environment. I can see where PCs and Phones and PDAs all running the same OS could be a great boon to connectivity.

All that said I believe in my heart of hearts that Microsoft is again dabbling in the fine art of vapor-ware. Promising 25MBs while rolling out a 1-2GB package.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Open Journalism

At the recommendation of the august Blogist and Philosopher Frank Paynter I clicked on a link that took me to the writings of Ben Paynter. Most specifically the article in The Pitch - Don't Look Down.

Ben, you've done it again!

Open Forests

Who plants trees although he knows he'll never sit in their shadows has at least begun to recognize the sense of life. - Anonymous

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fore score and 7


Our forefathers should be forewarned
about the potential abuse of forearms...

Thanks to The Way I Think for the pic

Open Face

As I have posted earlier I have no love for FaceBook. So it is sort of antithetical that I offer the solution to FB's privacy issues.

According to the WSJ's informal survey some 60+% of FB users would not like their friends to automatically be notified if they bought Prada or tickets to see Lion King. Ok, the answer is simple.

FB users should be notified that X number of their friends have bought the latest Stephen King thriller. Then privacy is maintained. No specific user is named. But the endorsement is implicit. AND the unknown aspect of X will only server to create a greater conversation (reads more FB traffic = more FB revenue.)

Somebody over at FB owes me a nice fat check!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Open Freedom?

We have allowed lawyers to define 'freedom' and as such we have lost it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Open Privacy

In a recent segment broadcast on NPR about Privacy I heard (paraphrasing)

'A potential employer might discover something about me that I hadn't intended them to find.'
The segment was concerning the publishing of personal information on sites like Facebook or MySpace and that employers were 'researching' prospective employees as a part of the vetting process.

I so much so wish that the speaker had not used the word "intended" when expressing his/her concern about privacy. For me their entire arguement implodes when there is a suggestion that sensitive material was shared in a public forum BUT it is "intended" only for certain parties. Or conversely, that there might have been an intention to hide or deny particular personal information from a prospective employer. That is just this side of deception, a personal characteristic that I would question if I were vetting an individual for any kind of sensitive work.

Open Ramblin'

Chris Sanders, who claims to be full of I.T., said he was thankful for growing up here-abouts...in Kentucky...just a bit west of here...

I can’t say that I will stay in Graves County for the rest of my life, as we all know how twists and turns can throw things off course. I will however, guarantee that no matter where I go and what I accomplish, I will always be Chris Sanders from Mayfield, KY. That would be about 30 miles southwest of Possum Trot, 40 miles southeast of Monkey’s Eyebrow, and about 10 miles north of the state line….just in case you were wondering….
Way to go Chris... now they will never leave you alone. Prolly be two or three more people a week be round to look you up. :)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Open Excess

J. C. Penney is opening at 04:00 (AM for those not on a 24 hour clock) ...

Need I say more?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Open Justice...

...or the best justice that money can buy?.

This is just plain wrong!



Posted at LinuxWatch
Nov. 20, 2007

York Capital Management's proposed Asset Purchase Agreement and its associated credit agreement for SCO make it clear that if the bankruptcy court lets York buy SCO, that York will be bankrolling SCO's continued lawsuits against Novell, IBM and other Linux-using companies.

Groklaw published the APA and its associated credit agreement during the last few days. The most interesting aspects of the proposed deal are in the credit agreement.

York, a private equity firm, is offering a complex purchase agreement for SCO. While the total amount of the deal comes to $36 million, a close look reveals SCO would get $10 million in cash and what amounts to a $10 million line of credit to use to continue its legal fights with Novell and IBM.
...

While you would be hard pressed to find anyone who believes SCO's claims that Unix code is hidden within Linux after almost five years of lawsuits without any real evidence, York, if it can get the bankruptcy court to approve its bid for SCO, is willing to take a small bet that somehow profits may yet be reaped from SCO's lawsuits.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware will hold a hearing on the proposed sale on Dec. 5.

Please, let common sense prevail - Wagering on the outcome of litigation should have no place in our business society.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Open Advertising (???)

Quick! Tell me about two commercials you saw during the last Super Bowl.

Funny, neither can I. Ok, tell me the company or product offered in the banner ad in the last page you went to.

Funny, neither can I. You can only imagine how it must sound to the Marketing Survey caller when I honestly say that I cannot remember any of the advertisements in such-n-such magazine. Even though I had skimmed it only two days ago.

This awareness brings me to one of two possible conclusions. Either advertising works...on a subliminal level. Or, advertising is grossly over priced for the effect it has on the viewer.

I wonder if Advertising folks would be willing to fess up to either position? It would probably involve Lawyers speaking for the interests of the industry.

Hmmmm...

Hmmm, iffen you quote enough smart people...

cash advance

Guess these folks didn't watch the Kermit the Frog video... Same as it ever was!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Open Responsibility

Microsoft's Bill Hilf Reveals Its Open Source Strategy

The man in charge of Microsoft's strategy for living in harmony with Linux lays out the company's opportunities with open source and the open source business model.


...

InformationWeek: Are there any specific areas where you would see Microsoft placing things in an open source development environment as a way to further its own products or to better interoperate with things?

Hilf: When people buy commercial software, really what they're buying is a guarantee. You're buying a guarantee that what you have will perform, and has been tested and there's someone you can call up, and if things go really bad someone's liable if something doesn't work. You're buying this ecosystem of accountability. One of the challenges of open source and really the challenge with the open source business model is: it's hard to replicate that ecosystem of accountability and that guarantee.

Emphasis mine.

In adopting a "Blamers" mentality we have succeeded locking ourselves into our own prison. Instead of looking for a solution to a given problem we have taken up the practice of finding someone else to blame, someone on whom we can place the responsibility.

Open Source is the antithesis of "Blamers". Open Source people, as individuals or groups, who have accepted the full and nontransferable responsibility for their work. By accepting the tenets of Open Source these people are willing to place their work under the scrutiny of the most discriminating critics. In return their work is vetted and documented to a degree that insures the very highest quality.

When we as consumers use Open Source software we are accepting that same level of responsibility. This does not mean that I, as a consumer, am "out in the cold" should I experience any difficulty with an Open Source project. To the contrary, it is the community of developers _and_ critics that rise to my assistance when I have questions or issues. They do so willingly, on their own time, and most often at their own expense.

We need to move away from "Blamers" and the blame game mentality.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Open Silliness or World Domination

One of the great social philosophers of our time, Steven Wright, asked the pointed question, "If you had everything where would you put it?"

The answer is very simple. "Everywhere."


If we did in fact dominate the world where would we put it? Would we rearrange the continents? Rename the countries? Demand that people change the color of their eyes? Standardize on a universal breakfast cereal?

If we did dominate the world we would leave it just as it is. Nothing would change. We would still have a world economy. Neighboring people groups would still have long standing disagreements. Some areas of the planet would be warmer/colder/wetter/drier. Local political leaders would be subject to the influences of area political leaders who in turn would be subject to the influences of regional political leaders who would be influenced by ... all the same people who are influential now.

We need to realize that no one wants to dominate the world. No one wants the responsibility of managing any more people or territory than they already have.

Let me be clear on one very serious point here: We, the world population, must remain vigilant. We cannot allow atrocities to occur.

By unburdening ourselves of fear we can begin to grow. When we stop the false "competing" that our respective governments have committed us to we can begin to work cooperatively. Instead of investing in systems and mechanisms that are designed to keep us separate and apart we can concentrate on joining together. Joining as brothers and sisters.

This is just One World. Where else would we put it?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Open Computing

In previous "Open" posts I have focused on the disparity of what we have verses what we need. Today I want to focus on what has come to be known as OLPC. I am astounded at the foot dragging and stone-walling that has been going on with what will be the single greatest contribution to computing community. And I know why the industry hasn't stepped up to OLPC.

  1. Consumer electronic manufacturers do not want to acknowledge that a functional PC can be produced for such a small price.
  2. Consumer electronic manufacturers do not want to acknowledge just how few resources the average PC user really needs.
Quickly and simply this boils down to Their profit margins and Our needs.

For too long now we have been locked into the BIG box model. Touted as 'bigger is better' and 'Mo' power!' the average consumer has been saddled with a PC that lays dormant 90+ percent of the time. This overgrowth of personal computing power has been driven lock-step by monopolistic software developers who have through rigorous legal wrangling forced us to "upgrade". All the while such upgrades offer little in the way of innovation or even real function. One need only reflect on Microsofts' Vista to see the real failing of this business model.

Were Joe P.C. Average to have a hands-on opportunity I know s/he would do very well with a small form personal computer running a small operating system. But the purveyors of behemoth applications and operating systems decry the lack of functionality. Me thinks they doth protest too much! They have chosen to "give" us what we think we want (at their direction and recommendation) instead of what we need. PC manufactures and their crony software developers should take a very real lesson from the Detroit Big Iron folks.

Remedial Math 101:

Joe Average can afford $100 for a PC. Is it better to sell one PC at $1000 or 1000 PCs at $100?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Monday, November 05, 2007

PDA-less-ness

My experiment with being PDAless didn't last beyond the first hour of work today Monday, 11/05/07. Can anyone guess why? Of course, DST trumps PDAless every time. The first time I had to log into an obscure video switching system to set its display clock to/from DST... required my PDA and its encrypted list of obscure passwords. Sheeeeeesh.


Although DST is common in Europe and North America, most of the world's people do not use it.      DST used      DST no longer used      DST never used
Although DST is common in Europe and North America, most of the world's people do not use it.
DST used
DST no longer used
DST never used

Open Kitchen

Restaurant Spending

According to the National Restaurant Association's report Restaurant Spending -- 2004:

  • The typical American household spent an average of $2,434 on food away from home in 2004. Per-capita expenditures on food away from home averaged $974 that year.
  • Households with incomes of $70,000 and over spent an average of $4,308 ($1,390 per capita) on food away from home in 2004. Close to half (47.6 percent) of the total food dollar in these households was spent on food away from home.
Citing speed, convenience and variety Americans are spending "Close to half (47.6 percent) of the total food dollar in these households was spent on food away from home." To me this means two very important things: first, Americans, particularly young people, are not practicing their cooking. Second, the American family is spending even less time in what should be the most revered and honored room in the house, The Kitchen.

When we stop upholding the value of food in our daily lives. When we relinquish the skills of preparation and presentation. When we give up the communion of family meals then we throw ourselves at the feet of the Food Processors.

My children were both fascinated with and horrified by Soylent Green. They it saw it through new eyes. They, who are only interested in microwaving instant meals, couldn't understand the import of a stalk of limp celery. They, who have yet to live for weeks on end eating rama noodles, didn't recognize the succulent, evocative implications of eating strawberry preserves one salacious spoon- licking bite at a time.

It is time to get back to the Sacristy of the Kitchen before it is too late.

Online Etymology Dictionary - Cite This Source - Share This
sacristy
"repository of sacred things," 1601, from Anglo-Fr. sacrestie, from M.L. sacrista, from L. sacer "sacred" (see sacred).

BONUS LINK: Soylent Green T-shirts (not for the faint of heart).

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Homemade chocolate chip cookies

...need I say more?

Open BTUs


19_Tobacco_barn
Originally uploaded by william_meloney
I have had the luxury and the privilege of traveling outside the US. I have been allowed to visit remote villages both in Mexico and in China. I was very surprised by the similarity of the two.

A rice paddy is drained and allowed to dry to just the right consistency. It is then scored into brick shapes, roughly 8"x 14" x 4". The bricks are removed from the paddy and allowed to dry further. I am not sure if they are "fired" but judging by the deterioration of old structures I do not believe they are. Then the next home is built. But "home" is to restrictive a label - home/barn/stall/pen/silo/hay loft/warehouse/et al.

Only subtle architectural detail differentiates the mud homes in China from the mud homes in Mexico.

Pictured here is the People's Home of rural China. This is a standard 5 room house. The central room fronted by the porch in the middle and is flanked by two rooms on either side. Above is a open loft.

In one of these homes that I visited the cooking area was inside. I did not find any inside plumbing. More often than not one of the five rooms contained livestock.

The Tobacco barn, picture at the top, is of particular note. Applied to the walls surrounding the hearth are "fuel" patties. A mixture of coal dust and organic material, primarily cattle dung is formed into patties and then slapped against the wall to dry. Later they will be peeled off and use in the hearth to cure the tobacco hung in the tobacco barn.

Below is an excerpt from the EIA's statistics of World Energy Consumption. What is of significance is the disparity of energy use verses population. China with an estimated population of 1.3 Billion people use 20% less energy than the United States with an estimated population of approximately 301 Million people.



This large table shows world energy consumption by region, from 2004-2030, for OECD countries and Non-OECD countries. For more information, contact: National Energy Information Center at 202.586.8800.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Word up

Open Table

Average Meal in London now the Most Expensive in the World

Well, this is hardly a surprise: London has been awarded the honor of being the most expensive city in the world for dining out.

According to a recent article in the Guardian, a typical three-course meal and a glass of wine now costs an average of $79 per person in the British capital. Ouch!

Paris takes second place with $72. Tokyo averages $71 while New York comes in at a comparatively cheap $39.

The data is based upon the ubiquitous Zagat Guide. The most recent London edition has just been published and the 2.9% increase in the average cost of a meal from last year's edition has concerned local foodies. As for myself, London just keeps dropping lower and lower on my list of places to visit. I'd rather just hang out in New York where the food is half the cost. And, of course, much tastier!

World Meal

  • The goal of this activity is to experientially heighten awareness about the overabundance of food in Western society, particularly in comparison with how much the majority of the world eats.
  • Cook a World Meal and share it with a group of people.
  • A World Meal is the average meal for the average person on the planet. It consists of a limited amount of rice and beans.
  • Herbs and spices are optional; as is anything you can forage from the local natural environment.
  • Encourage the group to, in turn, to cook a World Meal for a different group of people and thereby spread experiential awareness of how much we overconsume in Western society.
  • Continue cooking World Meals for groups of people at least until you've activated a critical mass of awareness for a snowball effect.


(Source: Clive Offley, Food - The Facts, New Internationalist, Issue 225, November, 1991)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Open Water

Reporting in the

Friday, November 2, 2007
MySpace Joins Google Alliance to Counter Facebook

By MIGUEL HELFT and BRAD STONE
Published: November 2, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 1 — MySpace and Bebo, two of the world’s largest social networking sites, on Thursday joined a Google-led alliance that is promoting a common set of standards for software developers to write programs for social networks.
...
“OpenSocial is going to be become the de facto standard for developers right out of the gate,” said Chris DeWolfe, chief executive of MySpace, in a press conference at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. “It will have access to 200 million users, making it way bigger than any other platform out there.”

The open standards could create a boom of innovation around social networks as applications reach more users than ever and encourage developers to create more Internet tools.

Water ... worth more than gold and necessary for survival above all other resources on earth.

And yet, over one billion men, women, and children (more than four times the population of the United States and Canada combined) do not have safe water to drink and therefore cannot live a healthy life.

GlobalWater.org

Who are these people?

They are the innocent children and desperate families living in overcrowded urban ghettos, in refugee encampments, and in towns and villages too numerous to count in rural areas of developing countries.

Here, less than 50% of the population have access to safe drinking water and only 25% have access to sanitary systems.

They are unfortunate victims of drought and ever-changing environmental conditions. When drought occurs, their countryside is transformed into an arid wasteland where every living thing seems to cry out for lack of water.

These precious people do not have enough water to grow and harvest food, enough water to keep their livestock alive, enough clean water to protect themselves and their children from hunger and disease.


They do not have enough water to survive

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Microsoft Windows SteadyState shakey at best....

Running a number of common access PCs means having to lock them down tight! When I learned that Microsoft had entered the 'access management' arena I was excited. Alas, my excitement was short lived.

Turns out that in its most "secure" state the SteadyState PC will still let the users shoot themselves and the PC in the foot. My question is why didn't Microsoft go the full mile and lock the system completely? I would have thought that Microsoft would have learned again the lesson of their OSs failures. Start with everything locked and then allow users only what you want them to access.

At what expense?

An NPR segment this morning related concerns about Internet Privacy and the need for a "No-Track" list. Such concern is admirable. Then the question crossed my mind, "At what expense?"

I am not speaking here of the relative cost of personal Internet Privacy.

What 'real world' (my choice of words) ... what 'real world' issues are being pushed aside in favor of concerns about Internet Privacy? What slight percentage of the Family of Man can afford to be concerned about Internet Privacy?

Hungry families also face tough choices
between food and basic necessities:
• 41% of households had to choose between paying
for food and paying for utilities and heating fuel
• 32% had to choose between paying for food and
paying for medicine or medical care
• 18% had to choose between paying for food and
paying for rent or mortgage
This is certainly only one example. It is not "exciting". It doesn't have political "sex" appeal. So this and other issue stand in the shadow of Internet Privacy? At what expense?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Cat Stevens Yusuf Islam Father and Son 2007

Just another FaceBook in the crowd (2)

The Saint, my wife of some twenty-fourish years, is a Scrabble addict. Very early in the morning and very late at night she is found staring bleary eyed at an assortment of consonants and not enough vowels. She plays against the computer because ... well, it is just more convenient. (I am not even sure of the program she plays - I could find out if I took the time.) One thing is clear - the price per game per play has fallen to the point where the author should consider paying her to play the game. My point is that she has gotten much more than her initial capital outlay for the game AND she doesn't have to pay for it again and again and again.

Out of curiosity I am now going to open another Firefox tab, enter some cryptic Google criteria and see if... Aha! Just as I thought... Internet Scrabble Club ... I registered my user name, password and my e-mail address. Downloaded the java interface and BINGO! Er, uh, I mean... SCRABBLE!

Now wait just a tile-sorting minute... I am not advocating the ISC. Not even if I were to get a triple word score for "apostate" or some such... My point is that we don't need contrived SocialSewingCircles or Walled-Gardens when the Internet is the greater "social network". Marshall McLuhan and Pogo were/are right: "We have met the message and it is us."

It is only when self-serving bottom-line profit-margin hyphenated-a$$holes attempt to extract their pound of flesh that we end up "needing" social communities. In part it is our own failings. We want to belong. We want to belong to something other than the greater population. So Monied interests pander to our desires, our wants and our fears. All the while putting advertisements in front of our eye-balls.

And while I am on a rant&roll ... how about those purveyors of "Love"? Purveying and preying on the most vulnerable, those "lookin' fer love [in all the wrong places]." Preying on the most basic, deep seated, human need/desire... to be loved. Offering the man or woman of your dreams... s/he is just a click away. Just enter all your vital statistics, all your private information, all your deepest secrets...and Oh yeah, your credit card number and we will fix you right up. "Step right up, ...

Step right up
step right up
step right up
Everyone's a winner, bargains galore
That's right, you too can be the proud owner
Of the quality goes in before the name goes on
One-tenth of a dollar

It is as if the world was too big, the universe too vast, the Internet too ... too something-or-other... we need to be members of some smaller order, some familiar covenant, some little comfort zone. We want to belong and the only way we can make that distinction for ourselves is with a small lapel pin label: FaceBookMySpaceEtAl. When in fact we are all engaged in the greatest social network known to mankind: The Internet.


. . .