Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Political "Suggestions" to a New Administration posted...
My Unusual Suggestions for America and the Obama Administration are now posted...so please now spread the word!!!
One benefit of "change" is my fond hope that politics will be less important in coming years, letting folks like you and me relax enough to go back to stimulating the world with great projects and keen ideas!
But first, let me announce that the series of "unusual proposals" that I ran here - important ways that both the new president and the people might make things better - is now conveniently gathered and presented in a clear way. (With deep gratitude to our charismatic and highly skilled webmaster, Beverly Price!)
It seems everybody has "suggestions" for Barack Obama and an incoming emergency Government of National Sanity. My own list includes some sure to be so unusual, even you brainiacs haven't seen them before. Crackpot? Well, yes, some of them. (I'd hate to disappoint, after all ;-)
But different. Guaranteed.
The other posting I want to announce carries forward a theme of mine... that a main political goal should not be to "crush conservatism" (that will only help Karl Rove maintain his unholy alliance), but to show decent conservatives how their movement has been hijacked by monsters... and thus break up a bizarre coalition that transformed the GOP into a modern Know Nothing Party.
(Hint: to do that, try showing your neighbors that change is needed, even from a decent conservative perspective.)
One allegory that I offer concerns a strange event that happened sixty years ago -- the Miracle of 1947 -- when liberals and Democrats went through a wrenching, painful self-transformation, similar to what decent, patriotic conservatives should do, in 2009.
Thus, we may win the greatest victory of all, one not of parties or single points of view, but of reason and pragmatism over an insane Culture War that has poisoned a once great nation. Well, one can dream.
And now -- putting faith in people, nation, civilization, more than any one man (but hoping for him, too) -- let me shout -- enough #*$#! politics!
Back to the future!
Visit me via: http://www.davidbrin.com
PS... this was a LOT of work!! You folks helped and devoted time too.
Please do find ways to circulate the concepts. Especially, if any volunteers want to cross post at change.gov? ???
Me? I promised. Fiction. Must ... write... fiction...
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If anyone here actually managed, by some wonderous miracle, to get an actual ticket to the inauguration, or especially one of the officially sanctioned balls, where you might actually have a chance to shake our new president's hand, write the url for that website down on a slip of paper (or two, or ten). You might get the opportunity to present it to Mr. Obama in person (or other high-ranking officials who could put the advice to good use). No guarantee that they'll actually visit Dr. Brin's page, but it's worth a shot, if you get the chance.
Even if you're just going to the inauguration and don't have a ticket to anything, like me (assuming I can take the day off work), you never know who Ifni might put in your path. ;)
Wangst: British slang word for what 'emo' teenagers do when they center their fantasized sex lives around their self-inflicted depression.
All -- have a look at this from Mike Treder, Executive Director Center for Responsible Nanotechnology
Please encourage your readers to VOTE UP our message to Barack Obama
-- http://tinyurl.com/93dsjw -- assuming you agree with it, of course.
A question to you all. About nine or ten years ago, right around the turn of the millenium, I remember CBS ran a story about a blind woman who had partially regained her sight through technology. I normally didn't pay much attention to the news, but it particularly attracted my attention, because the woman was able to see again not through an eye transplant or some other traditional form of surgery, but through a video camera, that she wore strapped to her forehead, and that was linked into the ends of her optic nerve. It wasn't a perfect restoration of vision, she could mostly only see shapes and tell the difference between dark and light, but the clarity was greater than expected (it was an experimental procedure), and the cost was relatively low (low enough that her friends at the bar she frequented were able to all chip in and pay for it for her, though they may not have had to pay the full cost of the procedure, due to its experimental nature). It was an incredible step forward in technology, indicating that we were much closer to developing cybernetic implants and enhancements than was commonly believed.
I have never heard anything about it since, though, nor any further development of the procedure and technology. I haven't yet started a real search to try and dig up any references, so it may well have been covered by news outlets that I just don't normally access, but I found it odd that such a technology, and a technological break through, would make national news and then disappear.
I was wondering if anyone here remembers seeing that story, or knows of anything more about it, or any related stories. My interest in such technology has recently been peaked, as well as my suspicions of another case of suppressed technology.
"Wangst" has a meaning already.
I linked to both the blog entry and the suggestions page on the official site. If you get a chance check out the blog entry on nithska about the NPR commentary yesterday from poet Pearl Sharp.
Here's an idea for you that the Madoff fraud suggests.
The fracture of the US financial system gives me an idea for a new business model.
1) Raise some capital.
2) Use a tiny fraction to hire a few business/finance reporters, and have them find a company riddled with fraudulent business practices. How hard can it be–this stuff is common and not very well hidden. Look at Enron, Halliburton, the Madoff Ponzi scheme.
3) Then short the company’s stock, send the evidence to the appropriate regulatory and oversight agencies, feed the info to the press, and profit!
It's both civilly useful and potentially profitable.
What's up w/ the Martian Methane? I was reading Oliver Morton's (discontinued?) blog and saw the name Brin. Anyway, it's all over the British press today.
While "Truthiness" was the word for 2008,.. I nominate "Wangst" for 2009. We all have to guard against "sounding the alarm" so much, that we are a real bummer at parties.
Did anyone follow Gingis Kahn because he wined about them not following him? Or that he complained about enemies who forced him to massacre the whole town? No. People followed Kahn because they were less likely to end up dead that way.
I am very sure, that people are plotting bad things, and that there is more skullduggery afoot. But of course, there has never been a time when a powerful Kleptocrat wasn't screwing the world and indulging their addictions to acquire.
For the Record, I'm against the "Pain Ray." Because it makes it too easy to subdue people. But, on the up side, it now gives me more than a fashion excuse to wear a tin-foil hat. Merely unfold the hat, fashion it into a parabola, and enjoy the fun as you reflect the microwave pain rays back on the fascist jackboots! I'm thinking that I'll start selling brightly colored foils -- like Apple's original imacs.
I think the important healthy difference, between Dr. Brin and people suffering form Wangst, is that some people who ALSO see things to worry about, are still focusing on being productive and doing things worth doing. DO THAT FIRST.
It's like drinking booze -- two glasses of water for each shot of tequila and it will help with the hangover.
If you don't have power, or control, or at least a cool outfit with matching foil hat -- you are inevitably going to become a whiney little bitch, and hang out on blogs and tell everyone grasping at hope that every silver lining has a storm cloud nearby. We know.
>> That doesn't mean I'm going to get punk'd if there is a war started over the latest turmoil in the Middle East. But if you were planning something drastic -- it's much better cover to pretend that you think everything is going well. So, I'm not saying to be a chump, but assassins with a sunny disposition kill more flies -- or something.
This is your conscience.
I'm posting to remind you of your promise that you won't write any more posts this month. Your quota is up. Keep working on your book.
In a week, when there are too many comments here, you can post an article or something, but don't waste time writing words for a blog that doesn't pay you.
Other people might enjoy this: an attempt to find rules for streamlining bureaucracies using math
One bit I liked was an observation by an author (not a scientist) that, over the 700 year history of the British highest council of state (the UK Cabinet, today), the group would start small, then grow until it was just over 20 people, then collapse into something smaller.
The scientists took that observation and decided to make a simple model. Sure enough, after 20 people it became very difficult to find consensus. Also, the number 8 was difficult. 7 and 9 weren't bad, but the model predicted that 8 consistently had trouble finding consensus. Sure enough, it turned out that no nation had a cabinet of 8 people, and most had one between 13 and 20
I thought most people followed Genghis Khan because they hated all the non-Mongols running around, and because they liked kicking ass.
Whenever someone brings up the Pain Ray, for some reason I think of those Buddhist monks in Vietnam who set themselves on fire as a protest. And in my wildest dreams, I imagine fanatic Buddhist protestors who are immune to the Pain Ray.
I think it's a nice vision.
Kelsey thanks, I really am trying to stay off blogging. This one was to announce the Suggestions Site and to ask that you folks spread the word about it. That's a reasonable exception.
I will also make exceptions for announcements and for brief items that take less than 5 minutes to clip & post. (While I'm here, see the latest Daggatt blog:
What actually drags me down here to comments this time is the re-appearance of a voice that was banished from our community for good cause. My reasons were colorfully expressed a while back, at the bottom of the last posting's comments section.
Someone please email me if he bothers you all again. Let's forget his name.
I got over my laziness and voted up on Treder's article. If you log on consider voting up this suggestion as well:
It is titled, Don't Cut Funding for Space Exploration.
As interesting or valid the article's author's points may be, the "OMG NATIONALIZATION! D8" factor really detracts from his credibility. Natoinalizing schools? The schools were ALREADY nationalized, LONG before Bush. How many local school districts compete to sell you an education for your kids? You pay a tax, which goes to support your local school district. Bush's standardized testing system of NCLB wasn't a nationalization of the school system, it was a standardization of teaching methods and testing standards (poorly planned and implimented, with the goal of implimenting a poor methodology for teaching, but that's a whole different can 'o worms). The roads you drive on, those are 'nationalized', funded by taxes you pay (and tolls in some cases, but for the most part not). The roads are built and maintained by privately owned companies, but they are payed by the government. That's done on the state level, yes, but what would be so evil about having it run by national government? Are the senators and representatives, aids and administrators in my state congress and state government any smarter, more competent, less corrupt, etc. on average on the state level than they are on the national level? Is there some grand fairness to a dense urban center, with a large population paying taxes to fund that district's schools, roads, buses, etc. on a level that a small, rural community with only a small number of sparsely-populated residents could never hope to afford with the tiny budget their taxes can afford? Or are we still stuck on the myth that the free market system is inherently self-correcting?
The whole nationalization = socialism = communism = evil = OMG MUST KILL IT WITH FIRE!!!11!1! mindset is immature and stupid, and no longer applicable in the world today (even during the height of the Soviet Union, it wasn't really correct, though it did have its purposes), and it is long past time for us to grow up and move past it. Nationalism and socialism are not inherently evil, and there are so many services that we take for granted every day that are either nationalized or run on a socialist system, and they all work just fine.
If properly designed, a national healthcare system could work very well, with everyone paying a national healthcare tax, creating a national fund that everyone drew from, instead of insurance and health care companies whose purpose is to make a profit, or insurance budgets limited by the number of people paying taxes into a region.
Of course, the key to that is properly designed. A properly designed system, developed with intelligence and pragmatism, would work well. A hodge-podge system just cobbled together, or designed by self-interest groups, would ulimately fail, of course. But free market systems aren't immune to that, as the current depression can attest.
No problem. I agree that keeping the comment section civil is necessary. And short posts don't count.
I can't spend too much time here either because I'm busy as well. So I won't bother you too much, unless I think you need a friendly reminder to spend more time on your book so I can read it sooner.
I'll appreciate it.
We have an example of the ability of NYC dwellers to behave with decency and intelligence in a crisis seen in the recent Hudson River plane crash.
In addition to the rescue workers and pilot, who are to be commended, the "regular" folks did their best as well.
The passengers helped each other out and worked together in an orderly fashion, and when a ferry boat came to assist, the ferry passengers helped aid and comfort the freezing cold crash victims.
"psyclo"- This is just begging to be the name of a cybernetically enhanced superhero.
The final CBS/New York Times poll of the Bush presidency has his approval rating at 22%:
Mr. Bush's final approval rating is the lowest final rating for an outgoing president since Gallup began asking about presidential approval more than 70 years ago.
The rating is far below the final ratings of recent two-term presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, who both ended their terms with a 68 percent approval rating, according to CBS News polling.
Seventy-three percent say they disapprove of the way Mr. Bush has handled his job as president over the last eight years. But, on the positive side, Bush is doing a lot better than Cheney, who has a 13% approval rating.
Wired on animal tool use. I had not heard of several of these, and the youtube links are worth the time to check out too.
gredl: willful young girl responsible for the "candyhouse" murder spree
The change site has souped up the feedback section. They now offer a citizen's briefing book where you can place your suggestions and comment on others
The best-rated ones will rise to the top, and after the Inauguration, we'll print them out and gather them into a binder like the ones the President receives every day from experts and advisors. If you participate, your idea could be included in the Citizen's Briefing Book to be delivered to President Obama.
(remember 'Sliced Bread'?)
...Speaking of which, I'll repost this bit of junk email from the SEIU here since it touches on one of David's comments about US health care for children, and because the US citizens in this audience are better placed to do something about it than I am:
We have a narrow window of opportunity to take a big step toward fixing health care. But it has to happen today.
Congress is getting ready to re-introduce a bill that would extend health insurance to more than 4 million children currently without coverage. It's the same bill that was supported by Democrats and Republicans in 2007, but vetoed by President Bush [due to it being funded by a tobacco tax, if I recall].
Will you call your members of Congress and urge them to support the reauthorization and strengthening of the children's health insurance program? Click here to get connected to your representative: www.seiu.org/kidshealth
Strengthening the children's health insurance program isn't just a victory for the 9 million kids who can't afford basic care; it's a huge win in the movement to fix health care for all Americans. Winning a quick health care victory will send a message to the American people that Congress is making health care reform a top priority.
Click here to tell your representative health care comes first: www.seiu.org/kidshealth
On January 20th, George Bush leaves the White House for the last time and President Obama takes his seat in the Oval Office. Let's have children's health insurance on his desk, ready for his signature.
L. Toni Lewis, MD
Really enjoyed the Miracle of 47 posting before your site went off the air ('net).
It is a good sign Obama has a page for suggestions. Let's hope the signs turn into reality.
Maybe it's the stark difference between Obama and Bush, maybe it's the press focusing on it so much more but I also view it as a very good sign Obama is trying to get as much done as possible BEFORE he gets in office. I don't remember a president trying to accomplish so much before he even stepped into 1600 officially. In fact, it seems many took a long time to get done half of what he's done with cabinet picks.
And of course, I'm much more willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for his first 100 days before I start deciding in my own head what he's about. I tried, very briefly, with the last one but that went down the drain in short order. I suppose it didn't help that I was 90% convinced the appointment had been a horrible fraud.
My first suggestion for Obama is you should move forward but you must look back, and if there is good evidence to prosecute crimes, you should. Next, work on the economy but not without remembering to work towards a good single payer universal healthcare system. (Yes, I still think we need this.)
It's too late and I'm way off topic.
Looking forward to your next sci-fi book, Dr. Brin. Avoid the Deus Ex Machina endings. But who am I to criticize? When I write I can't do it myself!
Fascinating article "Modern Liberalism and Libertarianism: An Economist's View" by Brad DeLong.
Adults can't take the current libertarian party seriously, but as David Brin points out, today's libertarian party offers only the most cartoonish caricature of true libertarian ideas. In fact, libertarian ideals enjoy an increasingly deep resonance in our panopticon surveillance society.
If it's true that a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged, it's even more true that a libertarian is anyone who's gone through the pointless humiliation of a TSA airport security line.
The 1947 piece is at:
I am afraid I've had to step in and delete some "anonymous" comments when style indicates it was posted by a banned individual. If I am less than 60% sure, I'll leave it up, as in the brief one just above.
I regret having to do this. Here's wishing us all well on Tuesday and beyond.
Looks like the Huffington Post has joined the chorus of people warning about the collapse of Mexico into a failed state.
And now Rush Limbaugh has come out and said he wants Obama to fail. Wow -- this guy would rather America collapse into another Great Depression, than see a successful Democratic presidency.
The site 'worldchanging' hammers Obama's choice of hardcore Republican anti-environmentalism Ray LaHood as transportation secretary. Because of the nature of the stimulus package, apparently the job of Transportation Secretary will be critical. Doesn't look good.
U.S. military contractor's employees purchased underaged girls as sex slaves. The invisible hand at work!
Dissident group declare "democratization can no longer be delayed." Leader jailed, others threatened. ...But are we talking about America, or China?
Speaking of which...a glimpse into the near future of America.
Sadly, looks accurate.
TEA PARTY February 1st?
So long as we have an inauguration drawing this sort of crowd and not a protest about our government blowing $700 billion of our dollars so that The Pigmen of Wall Street can continue to rob our nation blind, then saddle us with the bill when their bets go bad, we will see no solution.
I cannot take credit for the idea floated on the forum, but I do like it.
It is time for We The People to send a strong message to Washington DC - no more. No more loading our children and grandchildren with debt. No more bailing out speculators and bankers who made bets they knew were unsafe at the time. No more bailing out people who came to Congress to demand the removal of leverage limits, got what they asked for, then blew themselves up with the very leverage they demanded to be able to use.
Therefore, on February 1st, which is more than enough time for Barack Obama to be seated in his chair in the West Wing, I am recommending an act of peaceful, lawful and yet unmistakable protest.
That is, to mail President Obama one teabag. Nothing dangerous, nothing illegal - just one teabag.
Send one to your Congressman and one to each Senator.
Later, when the weather is a bit warmer and fountains are running water (rather than frozen!) this sort of protest can be repeated with LOOSE tea in select cities.
But for now, let's start with the symbolism, to be repeated each and every time our government votes or intends to do something similarly stupid - which I presume will include Obama's "stimulus" package.
If we all mail our teabags on February 1st, it will send a strong message to Washington.
Pass it around the blogs and email lists - its a bag of tea folks, and the obvious parallel to the Boston Tea Party of old should be instantly obvious to everyone who receives it.
Off-topic, but this is intriguing. I haven't played with it to form an opinion about how USEFUL it is or isn't though.
The "docuverse", a large-scale "document space" visualizer modeled after galaxies, mentioned at:
From the web page: "1.5 million documents on the screen at once. That, despite what it looks like, is what you’re looking at. Click through for a larger picture..."
"Each document is represented by a single star on the image, and each query makes up the core of one of the galaxies that form. Text Retrieval often uses a linear combination of several factors in its model of 'relevance' and these, instead of combined into a single score, are instead plotted along the axes of a cylindrical coordinate system. In this docuverse diagram, the radius is what's known as TFxIDF, or the dot product of the query vector and the document vector. The angle around the core is dictated by the cosine of the query vector and document vector. The height off the zero plane is the standard score of the length of the document (Z score)."
"solyma" -- the edible binder holding the Soylent Green particles together to make tablets.
No coup. No snipers. No bombs.
DB, go drop that canned food off at the food bank.
"We Reject as False the Choice between Our Safety and Our Ideals."
"plorill": Alien race from Son of the Children of the Lens.
By the way:
I didn't see a Pardon Tsunami. Did you? (Is it time to put crow on the dinner table?)
I'll eat crow about failed pessimism any day!
Anyway, I already told you folks that I am many. I am paid to be an author of thriller scenarios! That part of me comes up with scenarios and I am bound to pass them on.
Anyway, how do you know I didn't PREVENT something by spouting off about it? The self-preventing prophecy is the ultimate in sci fi achievement.
No tsunami? Wow. Did he betray promises? or else... hmmm... do they have some other way of staying out of jail?
Oh, but my mind works in funny ways.... ;-)
(Oh, Stefan... we only bought extras of cans we already planned to consume. Anyway, the Mormons have it right. Keep a big reserve supply of food.)
David Brin said... No tsunami? Wow. Did he betray promises? or else... hmmm... do they have some other way of staying out of jail?
What was that Eagles song? Take the Money and Run?
Private islands near Dubai aren't that expensive...
I just got back from the inauguration (thoroughly exhausting, and my legs are already promising my murder in the morning), and it was incredible. There were at least two million people there, if not more, and the energy was insane (though it mostly came exuberantly to the surface in the presence of TV cameras, such as the one camera they had set up on a big boom that almost constantly had a cluster of cheering, waving and chanting people surrounding it).
One thing that I did want to make very clear, though, that would be hard to notice if you weren't actually there, was the number of foreign nationals who had come, some from the opposite side of the world, to show their support and the support of their respective countries for President Obama. In just the small area that I roamed around in, I saw no less than four distinct foreign flags, and there were many more foreign nationals who had come without their national flag. Those flags were waved alongside ours, and the little, hand-held American flags that were distributed for free were waved with more vigor and enthusiasm. It was a very touching sight (and almost as incredible as singing "Lean on Me" along with 2 million+ people), and speaks volumes about foreign opinion of America, especially considering I only ventured across a very small portion of the mall once I'd finally gotten there.
You were right, Dr. Brin, they DO want us back, and they're ready to have us back. And possibly more so than even you had expected.
The problem with granting blanket pardons is that the recipient cannot use the 5th Amendment to avoid testifying later. If called to testify either they either have to tell the truth or risk prosecution for perjury.
Hopefully the memory card will come tomorrow or the day after, and I'll be able to post the pics and videos I took (not a whole lot, since I only had the on-board memory for my new phone, but a few).
Also, even before Obama's speech (which was incredible, and made all the more so being there in the crowd to hear it), there were many incredible moments, like 1-2 million people or so across the national mall all singing along, with feeling, to "Lean on Me." Watching (and occasionally joining) a group of complete strangers dance in sync to various songs (and actually do it with half-decent precision). The sense of shared camaraderie with 1-2 million people from all walks of life from all over the nation, even the world. The shared sense of fellowship, and that we could achieve great things, and not despite our differences, but because we saw no differences. And the raw enthusiasm and joy was incredible, and highly infectious. It reverberated through the whole city, despite the cold, the long, exhausting walks, the confusion of streets being completely blocked off and secured for the parade route, etc. And there was so much more. It was like a presidential Woodstock.
Ilithi, your description of the camaraderie reminds me of an account of John Paul II's first visit to Poland as pope. The regime of the time tried to spike the event by withdrawing all police services, anticipating traffic and crowd chaos, and presumably hoping to pin the disruption on the unwelcome interloper.
It didn't work: instead, 'the people found a new way of moving.'
Hope your legs recover!
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