Category Archives: Opinion

Ronald Reagan writes Mitt Romney – A #RomneyRyan2012 #obama Short Story

Dear Mitt,

I’m not voting for you even though I was one of those undecided voters who seriously considered it.

I tried, I really tried.

You were the winner of Republican Idol, for darn sakes! Who doesn’t like a winner? Losers, that’s who.

But I’ve learned that you’re really a cargo cult of other people’s terrible ideas.

I was going to text, but I didn’t want you to have my phone number.

YouTube was completely out, because I didn’t want you to see me and I’m having a very bad hair month.

Twitter was like your own beliefs, too short and ephemeral.

And I couldn’t use Pinterest because I couldn’t think of a clever e-card or find one that would work.

Facebook, was, well, Facebook, and I didn’t want to surpise my friends, family, acquaintances, and people I’ve forgotten how I know until I told you first because it’s a manners thing. I didn’t want to run the risk of you asking me why I did it before I got a chance to tell you why I did it.

So here we are.

Since the Internet is such a small place nowadays and we might just have people from our respective camps mingle and speculate on if I might change my mind, I wanted to publicly avow now and here before the world that we are never going to be a thing together and that I think you are a self-righteous, uptight, hypocritical, boring, lame, overreaching, cold oligarch of the worst sort that extracts instead of invests, and that I still I love my friends even if they’re voting for you.

We had some good times together looking at your hair and forehead, and laughing our way through the primary at the nutbags you had to crawl over in order to grovel in front of us today, but neither excuse your boorish, sexist, misogynistic, paternalistic behaviors and philosophies, nor your twin, idiotic, anti-thought, reactionary, spreadsheet-selected excuses that are your policies and your running mate.

Dan Quayle looks like an elder statesman in more than age compared to Paul Ryan. Do you know how hard that is for everybody else but John McCain?

Staged photo-ops in soup kitchens? Not what, but who the fuck came up with that one? I’ll take the risqué carving from South America flashed to the press any day of the year instead. At least Dan’s handlers had a sense of humor unlike the useless, cynical charlatans in your employ.

If, on the odd chance you actually win, I will continue to agitate and ferment my personally-held beliefs about you amongst the populace while respecting the process by which you were elected.

Sincerely,
Ronald Reagan

P.S. – Did you know that Jane Goodall’s laywers once tried to sue everybody on the Internet who said something bad about her?

P.P.S. – This article is a parody and should be considered satire, and is in no way designed to suggest that Dr. Jane Goodall or any of her registered agents has ever authorzied or consented to the use of her name to sell foreskin slippers, or that Mitt Romney is anything other than an upstanding and outstanding candidate for President of the United States.

P.P.P.S. – No llamas were harmed writing this.

P.P.P.P.S. – I’m very sorry that I used foreskin and Mitt Romney in the same sentence. Lawyers, and all.

Social Media

Like. Share. Tweet. Pin. Rate. Check in. Plus one.

It seems like whatever you’re doing or wherever you go online, you’re being prodded to do something. The main impetus of course is about getting you to add some metadata to a database so the owners of the database can make some money off the data set, usually by selling targeted advertising, goods, or services to you and others.

This quid pro quo of doing something for someone else’s financial benefit tends to be tacit, generally because most people don’t quite understand the value of their online actions to other people and they’re doing what humans do naturally – act socially. Most people willingly make this tradeoff because the social and internal reward is much higher than any feeling of being taken advantage of.

My biggest beef with many of these services is that I’m the product (my information) being bought and sold and that the creeping bias of these systems is towards isolated pools of data tucked away behind a myriad number of logins. A decade ago, I think I had about three online logins: Amazon, Cisco support, and Sun support. Now, I’m sure I have 20 or more across all the sites and services, plus at least a couple dozen one-off’s for sites that I’ll never go back to.

It’s freaking work to juggle all these, not to mention keeping the passwords straight. (Future rant – sites that still can’t handle extended characters like * | $ % and so on in passwords. The worst one I have today is a financial site that only allows letters and numbers; really!)

I’m finding that I’m pretty burned out on most of it.

I’ve never been a big fan of Facebook’s walled garden model. Every walled garden in the past has fallen, leaving behind sad remnant communities. Facebook is a ways from that still, but it feels to me like they’re approaching the top of their parabolic arc.

Twitter I like, (way too much according to my wife,) but it also feels like it’s in a bit of a rut. Their spam problem seems to be growing, and I’ve found that I’m more conservative in following people now due to the burden of having to do some due diligence to discern if a given account is a spam front or authentic.

Pinterest is very visually interesting, but the interaction model still feels like work to me. Plus, I’m obviously not roaming around sites that have great graphics often enough to add to the boards I’ve set up. It just feels like another space to keep up.

Google+ was way too much work to get set up, so I gave up.

I’ve done a few product reviews here and there, but really, logging back into a site after I’ve completed a transaction is about the last thing I want to do.

Foursquare and Facebook check-in? Noise to me, and the modern equivalent of collecting refrigerator magnets from places you’ve visited. The first few are fun reminders, a dozen or so are fun for the kids to play with, but the whole collection is just more junk to go into the dumpster when your estate is liquidated.

I used Tumblr for a bit to try and aggregate everything, but it was finicky, and kept falling over, and stuff wouldn’t update, so I gave up.

One of these days, this’ll all get sorted out. There will be various paid or free cloud services to chose from and you’ll have granular privacy settings on everything you share into and out of it at the time of publication, and you’ll be able to easily shift from one service to another, unlike the painful extrication that’s required today.

Or not. The ultimate irony.

People Against Same Sex Marriage in Washington State

Have you taken a close look at these people? I have.

Exhibit A. GoDaddy as registrar. Hosted at Rackspace. Site supported by Church Web Works.

Exhibit B. GoDaddy as registrar. Hosted at Rackspace. Site supported by National Organization for Marriage.

Exhibit C. GoDaddy as registrar. CDN by Akamai. Hosted at Peer1. Site supported by National Organization for Marriage.

Exhibit D. Hosted by Facebook.

Exhibit E. Network Solutions as registrar. Hosted at Rackspace. Site supported by Concerned Women for America.

Conclusion: The common theme across the sites is one of defending the religiously-based (predominately Christian) framework that often maligns, marginalizes, and incites hatred towards people who are not heteronormative.

Myself, I side with Washington, the man,

For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens.

and Washington, the state,

AN ACT Relating to providing equal protection for all families in Washington by creating equality in civil marriage and changing the domestic partnership laws, while protecting religious freedom;

and respectfully ask those that seek to legislate their religious beliefs upon the polity to go and sit under their own vines and fig trees, and to make no others afraid.

A Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution

The recent SOPA/PIPA grass-roots Internet kerfuffle got me thinking about participatory democracy and the ability for United States citizens to influence legislation in the United States, and I present this for consideration:

A PROPOSED 28th AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION

Section 1. The twelfth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section 2. The offices of President and Vice-President shall be directly elected by the citizens of the United States of America by ballot. The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President. The person having the greatest number of votes for Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President.

Section 3. In the event the greatest numbers of votes cast as described in Section 2 for either or both the office of President or the office of Vice-President are an equal number, the United States Congress shall convene no later than three days after the Presidential and Vice-Presidential election, and each member shall choose by ballot either the President or Vice-President as needed. The balloting and tabulation thereof shall be overseen jointly by the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. All ballots shall be a matter of public record and recorded in the Federal Register. The person having the greatest number of votes as President, shall be the President and the person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President.

Section 4. In the event the ballots cast as described in Section 3 are an equal number for either the office of President or the office of Vice-President, the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall meet to select the President or Vice-President as needed.

I have taken the liberty of re-using similar text from other amendments in authoring this amendment and building the fallback protocol in the event of a tie or ties. (Here my Internet engineering roots show.)

Constitutional amendments over the years have been varied, but each has been adopted in the spirit of the preamble of the Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

I offer the above in the same spirit during an era in which a Presidential and Vice-Presidential election has been contested and the public’s confidence in the electoral system continues to ebb. My hope is that this addresses one small area of lingering concern in the system we use to elect the highest executive offices of the land.

The thrusts of this amendment are multiple:

  1. Increase the real and perceived impact of each citizen’s vote, thus strengthening our shared investment in the republic.
  2. Increase the viability of third-party candidates and hopefully thereby increase the pressure on political parties to address the electorate as a whole instead of their vocal sub-minorities, which creates a political environment that tends to divide instead of unite us.
  3.  Increase the possibility of different political parties winning the offices of President and Vice-President, for similar reasons as outlined in point 2.
  4. Abolish the Electoral College and the negative effects it has on campaigning in the form of outsized attention to so-called “swing states”.
  5. Abolish the Electoral College and the negative effects it has on the election in what I call “vote dampening”, which is when exit polling projections suppress voter turnout due to a real or perceived loss by voter’s supported candidates, and thus negatively impact local or state elections, initiatives or referendums that have plurality or threshold turnout requirements, which are usually education and safety bond measures. This effect tends to be more pronounced in the Western states.

The roots of our democracy can be directly traced back to the Magna Carta of 1297 that codified the concept that the legislation of the people was of a higher authority than the proclamations of the King or Queen, which historically were viewed as agents of divine intercession on Earth. Big stuff.

This philosophical thread was prominent in the Declaration of Independence of 1776, the Constitution of the United States of 1787, and the Bill of Rights of 1789. These three documents form the backbone of the governance and administration of the sovereign entity of the United States of America, and through the foresight of James Madison, a mechanism and right to amend the Constitution was codified in the Bill of Rights.

As a citizen of the United States of America, I am exercising this right, and I urge you to join me.

So what’s next?

The procedure is clear. In a nutshell, Congress needs to approve the proposal by a two-thirds majority and three-fourths of state legislatures need to approve it as well.

We need Congress to propose this amendment as a joint resolution. This will require sponsors in the House and the Senate. Once we have have sponsors, we will then lobby for a vote to approve the resolution by both houses with two-thirds majorities.

At the same time, we need state-by-state action to approve the amendment.

What can you do? You can start by sharing this post far and wide. A suggested Twitter hashtag is #28amendment.

Then, we’ll need help bootstrapping this process by setting up the framework to run this campaign. On the technical end this includes database, automated mailer, hosting, and bandwidth help, and on the human factors side it’s copywriting, editing, graphic design,  communications, project management and the other various and sundry things needed to organize and communicate.

The SOPA/PIPA framework seemed to work pretty darn well, so if we can replicate that, all the better.

After that, it will be to contact your federal and state Representatives and Senators, and ask them to sponsor and vote for the above amendment using the communications framework yet to be built.

Ideally, we’ll be able to get the ball rolling prior to the federal election this November and all be able to enjoy watching the politicians explain their stand on this proposed amendment.

Protecting Your Stuff by Buying Access

Former Senator Dodd nakedly exposes how the sausage-making legislative system has always worked. If you’re surprised, you’re not paying attention.

You generally get what you pay for.