I hate Facebook, but I have a reason you have not heard yet…

I hate Facebook, but not for the reasons you might think. I have been working on the Internet since 1984. I remember modems. I remember dialup connections. I remember bulletin boards. I remember a time when there were no graphics on the Internet and Lynx (an early text only web browser) was the best you could hope for if you wanted to access the World Wide Web. I remember Gopher and Archie, (two means of storing and retrieving files on servers at universities all over the nation before the World Wide Web became powerful and easy to use), FTPUsenet news and binary files.

I remember a time when everything you did to reach the Internet was shrouded in mystery and magic (XON, XOR anyone?). I remember Mosaic and its later descendant, Netscape, fondly. I remember America Online and my first $600 online bill and CompuServe with their strange little account numbers, I remember the Well, where the best writers actually DID write there. I remember the constantly growing Internet that always had something new around every corner. It grew faster and changed daily, but no one really paid it any mind, after all it had existed for nearly thirty years and most barely knew of its existence up to that point. No one knew what was about to happen. Most of our science-fiction up to that time, even the most progressive and amazing stuff written barely considered the implications or the complications that would arise with this new technology.

Something changed in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The Internet began to balkanize. It began to coalesce. Its formlessness began to be changed by the sheer volume of people who began to find their way there. Millions came every year, faster and faster, each bringing their expectations to the Internet of what it should be rather than accepting it for what it was. A means of communication, that equalized everyone who used it. The chance to speak your mind without being censored, unless what you said was stupid, and then people just stopped listening to you.

The same way the printing press brought The Word, literacy and ultimately the sum of human experience to anyone who could read, The Internet brought The World to anyone who had access to a computer and could relay their experience to anyone, anywhere, who wanted to listen. This was more than a book, this was Experience transmitted at the speed of light. The false separations of humanity, time, space, distance, race, creed, color, were all able to be overlooked because, as the joke went, on the Internet, no one knew you were a dog, so we were all made equal by the quality of our electronic musings.

Then the Internet experienced a change, and not a good one.  The big corporations arrived. They set up their shops, and began to tell everyone what to expect from the Internet. They brought their old models of behavior from their previous medium (television, radio, music industries) and tried to bring the mojo that made them incredibly rich to the Internet. And it didn’t work.

The Internet required new mojo, it was not enough to be rich, you had to be good, to be smart, to be crafty, to offer people something REALLY new. And more of the same stuff that made you rich wasn’t it. Which lead to the college dorm rooms. There were plenty of smart, motivated, young people just waiting for an opportunity to create something new and that is where some of the newest and most powerful corporations got their start. Yahoo, Google, Twitter and Facebook are four such mega-corporations that rivaled the Old World Media in power and influence in the New Media World.

Golden gadget: Designer Stuart Hughes has created a 22ct iPad with and Apple logo studded with 54 diamonds. A snip at just £130,000.

Since the clash of Old World Media and New World Media, the Internet has been awash in the blood of their combat. Creativity for the sake of creating has been replaced with the heady swirl of technology being created in an effort to make profit. These technological remora  remain close enough to the swarming sharks of industry to make money, but not so close as to be eaten in their Promethean combat, striding across the world, affecting entire nations, for good and ill, sometimes in the same day.

Everyone is seeking to make money, and while there is nothing wrong with that, it seems that is all I ever hear about now when I think about the internet. The latest gadget, the latest cloud computing scheme/tool/asset, the newest APP, a better API, a newer operating system, the newest content management system, the latest social media event that will make me millions overnight if I act right now and send money to my friend in Nigeria/Amsterdam/Moscow.

So what does this have to do with my hatred of Facebook, you are asking? Why the trip down memory lane? Because Facebook and its many monolithic clones have done to the Internet something that none of the early evils which inflicted themselves upon the Internet could do.

Old Media for all of its power, money and influence, was never able to convince anyone that it WAS the Internet; Old Media was unable to convince you that it was the sum of all knowledge and that ultimately if you wanted to do something on the Internet, you had to go through them. No one believed it and thus it wasn’t true. But Facebook has 400 million people who use it and believe that it IS the Internet and beyond its borders there be Dragons.

Stay within the walls of Castle Facebook and you will be fine. Play our games, shop with our ads, communicate with your network of friends you have never met, and you will be fine. We will bring you the media you need. Facebook has everything you could ever need, so there is no longer a need to forage beyond our walls for food or entertainment. And if you must go to get something outside of Facebook, we want you to use your Facebook account data to join that new service, so you can find your way back to your cornerstone of your New Media experience.

Here are a few of the other things Facebook does that I simply cannot abide:

  • I am unhappy with the constantly changing but not necessarily improving face of Facebook. Every few months, it looks and acts completely different, and often for no discernable reason. All I can be sure of is by the time I get it configured the way I like it, it will be changing and the services I like the most, will be gone or mutated beyond recognition.
  • I dislike their draconian privacy practices that allow them to give away your information to whomever will pay them the most. Anytime you engaged in any activity on Facebook, whether it be quiz or game, you are giving away your information. And they don’t have to tell you who is using that data. And it did not start out this way. Take a look at how it has changed over time.
  • I am displeased with the fact that they choose to make their privacy rules and settings as an opt-out rather than an opt-in. As an opt-out, you are relinquishing rights and access to information that you may not be aware is being made public or being used by the public domain as part of a greater marketing model. As an opt-in, you would be treated with respect because you would have the option to CHOOSE to participate rather than being forced to.
  • I am angry that the faceless Facebook executives look to sell those here-for-to unknown rights to the highest bidder as part of an advertising campaign, most of their 400 million users are not aware they are participating in. Adding insult to injury, they hid the information of their shenanigans inside a document as complex and longer than the Constitution of these United States.
  • I abhor the fact that even if you wanted to leave Facebook, they reserve the right to continue to maintain your account hidden from the general population but your connections made through your account continue to exist unless you make an effort to erase your existence, element by element from the Facebook (and their attendent lackies) systems and servers.
  • Such a removal of your virtual self from their servers is a slow and steady process but one you must undertake if you wish to truly disappear from the Facebook Continuum. Even if you take the effort, there is no guarantee that your efforts will net you any real gain because the servers that Facebook uses, has backed up your virtual existence since the first day you ever put any files on the Facebook site.

The real issue I have with Facebook and all of its descendants and imitators is this: Facebook can be a candle in the darkness, it can be an island in the vast sea of data that is out there. I say to Facebook, BE that entry into this vast ocean, but do not try an convince anyone that you are all that there is, and that you have the power to treat people badly because you BELIEVE you control their experience while they are on the Internet. Because better corporations than you have thought that very thing and they are now just roadkill on the Internet Superhighway.

Many of them are companies that I have already mentioned, AOL, Compuserve, the Well, MySpace (I know Myspace is still alive, but it is really just a zombie-like existence, desperately seeking brains for sustenance). There are over one trillion web pages on the Internet today, and more spring into existence ever second. Each is a place you can go to and see and learn something new. You could spend the rest of your human existence looking at a page a second and not even scratch the surface of the number of pages out there. (60 seconds x 60 minutes x 24 hours a day, x 365 days a year x 100 years or 3,153,000,000 – that is over three billion pages leaving 97% of the Internet unseen by you even after all that.)

Don’t let Facebook or any mega-corporation dictate to you what the Internet should look like. Go out there and find as many unique experiences as you can. If you have the power, the interest, and the capability, MAKE something unique for the Internet. PROSUME; produce and consume, create something new, reach the sum of your human potential.

I recommend StumbleUpon as a great way to see the Internet you have been too busy with Facebook to see. Get the toolbar for your browser, make an account on StumbleUpon, choose the things you are interested in and have at it. I promise you, you will see things that you could never find using Social Media because social media is really only good for one thing; talking about itself. Step away from the closed proprietary universe of Facebook and return to the Internet you never knew existed.

You don’t have to leave Facebook, just turn it off so that you can hear the rest of the signal out there. Look at Facebook and other social media like you would the Sun. While you are using it, you cannot see the other stars that may offer you equally fantastic tools, opportunities and ideas that may be obscured by the brightness and nearness of social media tools. Let the sun go down, let those other stars come out for a while. You may be amazed at what you might find. If you have a tool you like to use to find the hidden jewels of the Internet, share them here!

ENVISION : Step into the sensory box from SUPERBIEN on Vimeo.

I found this video using StumbleUpon. It shows the development of a media group from their simple animations to this, their current crowning glory. A weird little gem of the Internet. Enjoy it!

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Left versus Right, Comparison and Contrast

With all the recent partisan politics in the news, it occurred to me one day when I was talking to one of my friends from the UK, that he did not understand American Politics. I politely informed him that there was nothing wrong with him not understanding American politics because most of the people who were born here did not understand it either and that he was in good company. So I began an impromptu survey of all of the people I knew, and all of the people I worked with and I even took an unscientific survey on the street to see if I made a word association list using the values from the table at the end of this document, could people identify which party it was associated with. But I did not use the common buzzwords of each party. This ended up not mattering as most people could tell their party (or the other party’s) rhetoric without serious prompting. The thing that was most interesting was that most people did not understand the depth of either party and they found the infographic to be very revealing of a summary of the parties of the Left or the Right.

Wikipedia lists conservative and liberal with very stiff and unimpressive summary statements, which I will include here as a comparison to the awesome brevity of the informationisbeautiful.com Left vs Right graphic. I am certain the descriptions and their summaries in Wikipedia are likely to be considered the purest forms and not subject to the changes that the parties are subject to in regional comparisons, so your mileage may very. Sometimes that picture truly is worth a thousand words. I have left the links from the Wikipedia active, just in case you are curious as to the sources or for extending your knowledge regarding the topics. The title links lead back to the primary Wikipedia entries.

Conservatism

(Latinconservare, “to conserve”) is a political and social philosophy that says that traditional institutions work best and society should avoid radical change. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism and seek a return to the way things were.[1][2] The first established use of the term in a political context was by François-René de Chateaubriand in 1819, following the French Revolution.[3] The term has since been used to describe a wide range of views. R. J. White wrote: “To put conservatism in a bottle with a label is like trying to liquify the atmosphere… The difficulty arises from the nature of the thing. For conservatism is less a political doctrine than a habit of mind, a mode of feeling, a way of living.”[4] Political science often credits British politician Edmund Burke with many of the ideas that we now call conservative.[5]

Conservative political parties include the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan, the Republican Party in the United States, the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom, the Liberal Party of Australia, the Kuomintang of the ROC, the Conservative Party of CanadaPakistan Muslim League (Q) in Pakistan, and the Bharatiya Janata Party in India.

Liberalism

(from the Latin liberalis, “of freedom”[1]) is the belief in the importance of liberty and equality.[2][3] Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but most liberals support such fundamental ideas asconstitutionsliberal democracyfree and fair electionshuman rightsfree tradesecularism, and the market economy. These ideas are often accepted even among political groups that do not openly profess a liberal ideological orientation. Liberalism encompasses several intellectual trends and traditions, but the dominant variants are classical liberalism, which became popular in the 18th century, and social liberalism, which became popular in the 20th century.

Liberalism first became a powerful force in the Age of Enlightenment, rejecting several foundational assumptions that dominated most earlier theories of government, such as hereditary statusestablished religionabsolute monarchy, and the Divine Right of Kings. The early liberal thinker John Locke, who is often credited for the creation of liberalism as a distinct philosophical tradition, employed the concept of natural rights and the social contract to argue that the rule of law should replace absolutism in government, that rulers were subject to the consent of the governed, and that private individuals had a fundamental right to life, liberty, and property.

The revolutionaries in the American Revolution and the French Revolution used liberal philosophy to justify the violent overthrow of tyrannical rule, paving the way for the development of modern history in tandem with liberal history. The 19th century saw liberal governments established in nations across EuropeLatin America, and North America. Liberal power increased even further in the 20th century, when liberal democracies triumphed in two world wars and survived major ideological challenges from fascism andcommunismConservatism and fundamentalism, however, remain powerful opponents of liberalism. Today, liberals are organized politically on all major continents. They have played a decisive role in the growth of republics, the spread of civil rights and civil liberties, the establishment of the modern welfare state, the institution of religious toleration and religious freedom, and the development of globalization. To highlight the importance of liberalism in modern life, political scientist Alan Wolfe claimed that “liberalism is the answer for which modernity is the question”.[4]

Left vs Right – Information is Beautiful

I found this graphic on a website called Informationisbeautiful.com and it was created by David McCandless and Stefanie Posavec. It compares what is considered the political Left and Right and what they, in general, hold dear to their political hearts. To fit the graphic into this window, I have compressed it so that it cannot be read. To read the graphic, click on it and when you see the magnifying glass, click again. You will then see the graphic in its fullest magnification. Since it is one of those that speaks for itself, I will simply say that this graphic is one of the finest infographics of its type I have ever seen. If you know of one better, please let me know and I will include it here for a side by side comparison. If you see something in this graphic you do not agree with, please comment and we can discuss it.

Remember I did not make this chart, I simply believe it is a great way to see and compare the two ideologies side by side. The graphic, if you really love it, comes in a poster format for $45 American (32 Euro, or 30 Pounds UK). The poster is 23 inches x 33 inches (approx 59cm x 84cm) and printed in three colors. The page that you can order the graphic from is included in this link. Disclaimer: For the record, I have no affiliation with the Information Is Beautiful.com site or its owners, nor do I make any money on any of these poster that you may purchase for your friends, family or clueless political party members who may not remember what their party stands for.

Speaking for the Dead

For my Mother

When we were younger, my mother and I read a book called Speaker for the Dead, by Orson Scott Card. In that book, there were priest-like Speakers who would interview the living members of a deceased persons family or their friends/acquaintances, and find a way to describe the person to people who may not know them. This was not always flattering but it was always truthful. The goal was to give people some sense of the person that they may not have known.

My mother and I both were big proponents of Truth. She always asked me to remind people if they were not going to be truthful once she was dead, what was the point of even talking about her. She did not want people standing over her lying about how much they loved her. Thus our interest in the Speaker for the Dead. This document is meant to be a Speaking of a sort. I cannot speak for anyone else’s point of view, this was how I saw her. If you want to Speak about her, be truthful even if it is not always polite. She would have preferred it that way. She will never pass this way again. Speak your truth and in truth immortalize her.

Daisy Lozine Howze (aka Judy)

It was the middle of the last century. A tumultuous time filled with change, revolution, wars, evolution and the transformation of the human race in ways no one could have ever imagined it. During this year of change, in what was a legendary city of the old south, Mobile Alabama, (which derives its name from the Maubila Indians present at its founding) Daisy Lozine Betton was born, January 15, 1945.

That same year would see the U.S. Marines would land on Iwo Jima, President Roosevelt would die in Warm Springs GA, and Nazi Germany would surrender in early Spring. Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt, would enter the war united against Imperial Japan.

Doctor Benjamin Spock published his seminal work, Baby and Child Care during what would later be called the Baby Boom years. Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager in the experimental aircraft, X1 was the first human being ever to travel faster than the speed of sound. Jackie Robinson entered the Major Leagues as the first person of color.

In the summer of that year, the first and only two atomic weapons ever to be used against other human beings would be used, first at Hiroshima, Japan, August 6 and three days later at Nagasaki, Japan, August 9.

These were the backdrop of the world of Daisy Betton. In the years that follow, the United States would be transformed, again and again, remaking itself anew each time. In her way Daisy was very much like that, constantly remaking herself, rediscovering who she was each time.

I can’t say much about her childhood, she kept it to herself. She had siblings, Nathan Betton, Gail Strickland, Angelus Rowe, and Diane Lowman but she was private about the times before their adulthood and their relationship was like most relatives, passionately quiet at times but always quietly passionate. I have no doubt that she loved her siblings, in some years, they were all she talked about, good or bad.

Mobile is a major metropolis today but in my youth I made several trips to it and never remember seeing a city at all. It seemed peaceful. A small quiet town. A place where you could walk without your shoes on, if you were so inclined. I remember doing that. Someplace where tire swings and shooting marbles were the order of the day if you were a kid. The circumstances of her leaving her home town behind were never known to me.

When I meet my mother it was nineteen years later; working as a medical assistant in New York City awaiting the my birth. Soon after, Patricia, Robin and a number of years later, Robert Howze, Jr. were also born and raised under her keen and ever-vigilant eyes. These next fifteen years would not be quiet ones. An intense woman and beautiful woman, she would move several times from Queens, to settle in the Bronx. She would later marry Robert Howze, Sr. and even much later William Allen.

A meticulous woman, detail-oriented, in her housework, whether it was cooking or cleaning, if it were worth doing, it was worth doing well. A renaissance woman, she strove to excel in whatever she was doing, a great cook, an excellent housekeeper, an amazing seamstress. For a number of years she made a wide selection of our clothing from scratch! Some of my fondest memories were of walking through the patterns she would lay out onto the floor before cutting it up and sewing it together. She made many of our dress clothes, even things I hesitate to remember; a pink suit comes to mind, for instance!

She would be called an activist today, she was an advocate for anyone who needed her. She created and lead the Evergreen Avenue Tenants Association, when services in the building we lived in did not meet her strict standards. She helped with the Parents and Teachers Association to let them know she kept her eyes on the people teaching her children. She was exacting and knew what she wanted. She was a perfectionist. This came at a price.

Some years after she married, like most young married couples, they struggled to make ends meet. During times of stress, depression would take hold and she would be unable to focus on the things that mattered to her. She even considered suicide. This is tough to hear because few people would know this about her. She seemed unstoppable, immovable, like a giant. But for a time, she was as mortal as the rest of us. In the late seventies, she began helping the kids with our homework and it rekindled her desire to finish her education. She had a secret love of poetry that she rarely shared but studying together, my appreciation for it grew.

Somewhere around the tender age of 33, she decided to go to work for herself as a salesperson, capitalizing on her stylish dress and commanding presence, successfully selling Tupperware and Princess House products. I know this because she convinced me that I should do it with her. She was a natural (and I did all the heavy lifting). Strong presentation skills mixed with her love of people and enjoyment of the product made her an excellent salesperson. She also began working on finishing her education, acquiring her GED in 1982.

I left to join the military but my mother continued her education, graduating from the College for Human Services with her Bachelor’s Degree. She was immensely proud of that achievement, perhaps her crowning moment, where she managed to do something she considered impossible and not only did it, but was ranked at the top of her class.

She took a job with the County with Social Services. She believed in the job when she took it but Social work being what it is, grinds the compassion from its workers and she did not seem to ever be very happy with it as time went on. An injury at work sidelined her and she was unable to return to work. No real resolution had ever been achieved regarding that injury; something that nagged her as unfinished business. She hated unfinished business.

I moved away to California and learned of my mother’s grandchildren over the phone, since that was our preferred form of correspondence. She also learned of my very late addition to the family the same way.

Latricia Howze, daughter of Patricia Howze
Latricia has a son as well, Daisy’s great-grandson, Trevione Cheatham.

Princess Howze,
DyamondKrystal Howze
PrincetonDesoto Howze,
Sterlingolijawon Howze,
PrynceElyja, daughters and sons of Robin Howze.

Kimahri Blackmon, son of Thaddeus Howze

I did not return to New York often and when I did it was rarely good news. My next trip there was, when my brother, Robert Howze, Jr. passed away. Daisy was devastated. She was never the same after that; lamenting that parents should never have to bury their children. As her youngest child, theirs was a very special bond; he was her last child, she accepted him, no matter his choices, no matter his circumstances. He was not always good, but he was always good to her. She missed him terribly.

Robert Howze Senior, would later be diagnosed with cancer. No treatment was ever successful and eventually he succumbed to it only a few years later.

When Daisy was diagnosed with cancer, it was some time before I knew of it. We talked frequently but she was mostly worried about my life, what I might be doing, whether I was happy, motherly kinds of things. It was what I loved the most about her. She never let me feel that she ever stopped loving me, even when we had disagreements. I discovered she was sick when she moved back to the South, Atlanta, I believe. That brief moment of independence, of solitude was for her a time to come to understand what her life meant to her. That she had done the best she could do for her family and that we would now have to soldier on without her.

I had time to think about it and process it, but I was never prepared for the reality of her passing. During the last years of her life, we talked frequently, mostly about my family, my work, my happiness, my hopes for the future. I tried to convince her that she should be asking herself those questions but she always shushed me and told me that I was interfering with her work. You see, her children were her work. She wanted them to be happy, even if they were not sure it was what THEY wanted for themselves.

Near the end, our chats were longer, more serious, yet more funny in the way of someone going to an airport to a place you won’t be going and know they don’t have phone service there yet. So we talked about what to do in the event of this or that. Her way of giving me the last keys to her wisdom. The last thing we talked about was one of the first things we talked about: The secret of our success.

When I was nine, she told me, after I had just finished sassing her and getting some old school discipline for getting the only B, I ever got on a report card: Why do we succeed? Because we MUST. At the time, it went right over my head. I am not going to lie. I had no idea of what she was talking about. As I grew older, it always came back to me, mostly at the darkest and most difficult times in my life. That is when you know something is good, you think about it when you can’t think about anything else. We succeed, because we must. As people of color, no other choice is an option. Failure is success, poorly dressed. Get it some better clothes. Those were her last words to me. She believed that Success was a choice and it was always ours to make if we wanted it.

My mother lived into the beginning of the next century, where miracles of technology are being created every day, but the miracles she was most interested in were the inner ones. Development of character, drive, the will to do your best, love, love of family and of self, inner peace, being able to be calm when all about you are losing it. Her favorite short poem was the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the strength,
to Change the things I can,
Accept the things I can’t and,
the Wisdom to know the difference.

Magnificent, strong-willed, difficult, intelligent, dynamic, loving, generous, talented, beautiful, charming. These are all words used to describe her. For me, she will always be my Mother.

Daisy Howze, died on June 20, 2007. She was 62 years of age.

Speaker for the Dead: Thaddeus Howze

Bomb in Times Square, the sequel…

Image from CNN

A suspicious water cooler was found in the middle of Times Square near 45th Street and Broadway, outside the Marriott Marquis hotel, witnesses and police said. That’s not far from the spot where authorities say Faisal Shahzad left a car bomb that failed to detonate. So the area was cordoned off for a three block radius as the Counter Terrorism Unit of the New York City Police Department sprung into action.

Then I turned my television off.

This was being broadcast live from CNN and I was working on my computer when I got a tweet from a famed writer in the UK asking if NYC was experiencing a bomb threat. I turned on the television saw that he was right. Tweeted a response, watched for ten minutes as the bomb robot failed to conclusively determine whether it was a bomb or not. With my television off, I called a friend and said that there will be nothing there but a bunch of killer beers and (gah!) I was right, nothing but water. I hate when I am right. I wanted it to be filled with deadly nitroglycerin or something that would make the cost of this event worthwhile. Instead, all we get is the cautionary tale that water in plastic bottles may eventually be the death of us all. Okay, good lesson. Lets get on that. Get water to everyone on Earth and get it out of plastic containers. We should be all over it.  That is the real news story here so I will report on it again later.

In the meantime, Mayor Michael Bloomberg acknowledged after that incident that terrorists have targeted New York. “We have to take every precaution, as you know, because we remain a prime target for terrorists,” he said. “That’s something all New Yorkers understand, and it’s something that we need Washington to understand, as well. We will continue doing everything we possibly can to protect New Yorkers from terrorist attacks,” he said. “We have, as you know, built the most comprehensive and sophisticated counter-terrorism operation of any local police force in the world.”

Was that before or after the bomb X-ray robot failed to be able to “conclusively” rule out the nature of the threat and human lives were put at risk to finally determine the nature of the threat? So much for technological sophistication. And to be fair New York City gets anywhere from 90-140 bomb threats a day, so I know that the job of a counter-terrorism agent working for the New York Police Department must be a non-stop roller coaster ride, hopefully without too many sudden stops.

Feeling any safer yet?

I don’t know who to blame in this orgy of media gone mad. Do we really need a second by second broadcast of such an event while it is happening? Let me pose a question. If a terrorist were to plant a bomb, in the middle of Times Square but below the ground out of line of sight, and instead place a water cooler above ground to detract from his real bomb, if he were to wait until every camera in the world were pointed at it, and THEN detonate it, aren’t we doing his work FOR him? He planted the bomb and when it went of, if there were no cameras, it would just be another bomb, albeit in a prominent place, but we have had those all the time, bombings in London, bombings in Paris, bombings in Bagdad. This is not to say that those bombings are not terrible, but we usually get there AFTER the fact. We see the carnage, but not the event. Does anyone happen to think that seeing and recording the event all over the world, would make the potential for terror, for inducing fear and loathing, for making people suspicious of everything and everyone be EXACTLY what the terrorist is hoping for? Could we be doing a better job for him than he could ever get for himself?

Just posing a question, I leave it to the much brighter and more capable minds who run our government, who run our media centers, who decide how important each and every explosion all over the world should be to the psyches of the people who are seeking, no striving to live in world fraught with peril brought on by governments who cannot decide what is most important in the world today. Governments that are managed by CEOs who determine exactly what is the greater good and if it means that people should be traumatized into their homes, so be it. If people should rush out to their movie theaters or shopping malls, so much the better. Bartender, retail therapy for all my friends. And if people in nations not familiar with bombings in public places should have to see them, they should see them in full color, in slow motion, with shrapnel ripping people into tiny bite-sized pieces because no special effects budget will ever be able to get that realistic. EVER. Scaring people into their homes would never be the goal of a government bent on martial control of all aspects of our society. I am confident that corporations only want what is best for us and we know that ultimately RATINGS are all that matter. If it bleeds, it leads, if it explodes, well it totally DOMINATES the marketshare. How could I question our corporate masters and their firm and controlled hand in managing our national welfare? These are not questions for the unwashed masses to consider, unless they are using WATER ® a registered trademark of the Greedy Corporation.

But I will pose this question instead: How much money, how much energy, how much time are we spending fighting an imaginary enemy who only has to make a threat and then watch us squirm ourselves to death every time we THINK there is a threat?

And for you rabid patriots who say that Osama Bin Ladin is real and a dangerous threat, I say to you, nay! So far, all I have seen is a tiny enemy who, using mostly fear tactics, armed with weapons from a war over 20 years ago, (AK-47s and the oh-so ubiquitous desert rocks) and some weapons stolen from the forces who occupy their country, hold our entire nation as a hostage, we are afraid to fly, we are scanning our water and air and food, we are now afraid to go to Times Square, we are spending billions on a war in a country that for the most part has NO redeeming features (other than the precious life-blood of our technological excess, OIL) that we are willing to kill other humans, bankrupt our nation, sacrifice our brothers and sisters, to chase a man and an ideology that certainly do not warrant the attention (or the hundreds of billions or the tens of thousands of lives lost). Why can’t we just stop aiding and abetting terrorists in terrorizing our own nation?

Personally, we cannot get out of those countries soon enough. Let’s fix the problem on our end. Stop using so much damn oil. Use what we have in a more responsible manner. Stop letting it float off into the oceans from our sloppy ocean going vessels with drunken captains, or allowing it to flow freely from underwater facilities who should have every resource at their command to make getting that oil as safe as possible, be that training, technology, human development or just spending the half a million dollars on the part that would shut off the flow during a damned emergency. Find better, cleaner and more energetic power sources, stop making robots of mass destruction (when the war started there were probably 100 robots for the entire army, now there are over 12,000), stop bombing that war-torn region (which has been war-torn for over 1000 years or more) stop sacrificing lives over the irrational idea that our religion’s imaginary friend is better than their religion’s imaginary friend. Can’t our imaginary friends just get along? After all, they are just imaginary…

The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Click on this graphic for a better look!

All I can ask is what kind of engineering went into the technology of this oil rig and its attendant technology. In responsible engineering, the flow of the oil would require a positive outflow mechanism, meaning as long as someone was applying power or pressure, the oil would flow. In the event of an emergency, the valve would immediately shut without the application of power or pressure to the system, thus automatically sealing the flow of oil as long as it took for someone to hook up another mobile platform and reconnect to the positive outflow mechanism and accept a new stream of oil. I am not an engineer but I have to ask why this simple engineering principle was overlooked in light of this ecological catastrophe. I cannot believe that I am the first person to consider a mechanism that in the event of a disaster simply stops the flow of oil from the system. I am certain that this is a design flaw that should be corrected immediately on all future oil mechanisms, particularly ones that exist on sea going oil rigs. Considering the cost of one of these rigs, I cannot imagine it would add prohibitively to the cost of the overall system. (After a bit of research, it would seem such a mechanism is already part of the system, but it failed to activate and could not be activated remotely, making it a not-so-failsafe-failsafe!)

The Deepwater Horizon is the name of the rig and I have included a link to its physical specifications for the technologically curious. Offshore drilling is inherently dangerous. This yearn alone, there have been three fires on rigs in the Gulf. Since 2001, 69 people have died in accidents. (The worst industry disaster remains the Piper Alpha catastrophe off Aberdeen, in 1988, when 167 workers died.) The Deepwater Horizon was designed to avoid such disasters. It was at the technological frontier, a “semi-submersible” rig intended for ultra-deep water, where rigid support structures are impossible. Instead, it sat on pontoons equipped with thrusters that reacted to the tides to keep it in place. Six months ago it drilled to a record depth of 35,000ft. That well was also drilled for BP, not far from the site of last week’s disaster. It is still unclear what caused the accident but it appears to have been a blowout — a sudden spike in pressure that sends oil or gas bursting up to the surface. If that happens, the blowout preventor, a guillotine-type valve on the seafloor, triggers automatically to cut the flow. It didn’t. BP sent remote-control submersibles to close it manually but they failed, which is why the rig continued to burn.