Archive for December 29th, 2003

Picture on the Scratchpad


photo via T. Adams

Naval Undersea Warfare Center Tests Blogs


or keeping a weblog, is often seen as a solitary effort. An individual
can type frequent updates onto their log, sharing opinions or ideas with
anyone with Internet access. The future of blogging could look a lot
different. The Office of Naval Research and the Naval Undersea Warfare
Center (NUWC) are testing out the idea that weblogs can be powerful communication
tools to bring together teams of people.

The ONR and NUWC are leading a government-industry team to develop a blog
as a promising new approach to speeding up the exchange of information
on new defense technologies and thereby speed up getting the technologies
into the field.

from US Navy web site

Waiting for The One


The Dowbrigade, whose social life makes Airport Ramada look like
Paris Hilton, has been invited to a party tonight. Not exactly a New
Year’s Eve party (that would be too much to ask for), but close; a Day-Before-New-Year’s-Eve
Party.  Actually, it’s not exactly a party, either, but more
of a fund-raiser.  For Howard Dean.

This raises a slew of questions regarding propriety, politics and just
how pathetically desperate for social interaction the Dowbrigade is.  Although
we have officially
endorsed Dean
in this space, due largely to his spirited
criticisms of George Bush and Bush’s manner of going about the nation’s
business, we have also repeatedly excoriated
for his tepid and uninspired
on the
of presidential power.

Can one in clear conscience support a politician one truly believes
doesn’t "get it" and lacks a serious chance of getting elected, just
because he is the best of a sorry lot? Is it worth backing a candidate
who has closed the door on any substantive change (and perhaps doomed
his candidacy to defeat) by agreeing to play by the Major Media and Major
Party ground
rules which have been silently and surreptitiously imposed on We
the People over the past 80 years to insure that the power remains in
the hands of a small homogeneous elite largely behind the
scenes and off of the political stage? 

Does it make sense to give
our money to a campaign which will immediately hand it over to the
very Media Conglomerates we believe are sucking the lifeblood from the
political process and keeping the public in the dark about who is really
running the Republic, what their Game Plan is, and how they plan
to get us all to play along?

Our problems with Howard Dean are nothing personal.  We are sure
he is an honorable man, and would probably be an enjoyable and entertaining
dinner companion. But it has become increasingly clear to the Dowbrigade,
and seemingly to a number of other bloggers, commentators and political
pundits, that he is not The One.

Howard Dean is not The One who is going to wipe away the subterfuge
and meaningless rhetoric which have blocked the arteries of our political
process and get the blood flowing once again.  He is not The One
who is going to challenge, and break, the Major Media Monopoly on our
collective consciousness.  He is not The One capable of igniting
an unstoppable brush fire of grassroots actions which are going to truly
revolutionize how the political process works in this country.

Make no mistake, we are not whistling wistfully in the wind. The Dowbrigade
firmly believes The One is out there somewhere, and his or her moment
is swiftly approaching.  Our
existing political process, honed and evolved in a period of governmental
and media encroachment into all areas of public and private life, simply
doesn’t work any more, and is incapable of producing leaders of the stature
needed to get us out of this quagmire of disfigured development. The
dynamic and the technology to effectuate an authentic revolution in how
decisions are made and implemented don’t need to be invented or brought
about.  They exist today.  The One will be the first public
figure to figure out how to catalyze these conditions and start them
revolving around his or her vision.

How will we recognize The One? Probably, it will be like pornography
– it’s hard to describe, but you know it when you see it.  Or like
love – if you have to ask, "Is this the real thing?", it’s not. The Dowbrigade
is waiting to be swept off his feet by a political uprising so spontaneous
and clear-cut that we are powerless to resist. The Dean people are correct
in concluding that the next true political change will be effectuated
by the 55% of eligible adult Americans who currently can’t be bothered
to vote. The question is, who will be able to get those people off their
couches, out of their hazes, away from their comfortable niches and
lives and vices, and out into the cold hard light of day to take specific
actions?  It
won’t be Howard Dean.  It will be The One.

We suspect that The One will not emerge from either of the Major Political
Parties, simply because they are both so over-burdened by morally bankrupt
hacks, ingrained corruption and insidious commitments and compromises.  To
win the endorsement of either the Democratic or Republican parties as
presently constituted in this country a candidate must mortgage his soul
so completely that
maintaining any kind of righteous credibility with people so
desperately desiring a credible leader is simply impossible.  Should
a leader with the requisite qualities emerge from one of the major parties,
or she would certainly be mercilessly attacked and undermined from within
their own party with increasing viciousness the closer they approached
goal.  The
result would almost certainly be a messy defeat in the nominating process
or a messy defeat in the general election, either of which would be used
by the enemies of change to delay the inevitable another presidential
cycle, at least.

Yes, despite the pernicious pessimism rampant in the land today, we
believe The One will inevitably appear some day soon, a Generational
Giant, clearly
the stage.  He or she will have an immediate and innate grasp of
the situation and the new tools with which it can be turned to OUR advantage.
Instead of sucking money out of the Internet and blowing it into Major
Media, The One will move assets FROM the traditional political infrastructure
TO the internet. The One will embrace Blogs not as docile cash cows to
further political ambitions, but as revolutionary tools to communicate,
organize and wrest control of our lives and our national destiny from
the rich, isolated little pricks who have hijacked it.

The One is going to understand much more than Blogs. The One will have
the whole Internet thing figured out. The One is going to be a master
of Flash Mobs, for example. Amazing, isn’t it, that at this stage of
the race for the White House consists mainly of "The Men Who Would be
President" meeting with 10 or 20 or 50 people in a living room or a Rotary
Club or a Pancake House in New Hampshire and Iowa. Imagine what roving
Flash Mobs could do to that process.  If every time Kerry or Lieberman
or Dean arranged a cozy little coffee klatch 100 or 500 or a thousand
supporters of The
Not violently, or aggressively, but silently, solidly, and seemingly
impossible to avoid, surrounding, enveloping and absorbing the small
crowds attracted
by the lesser candidates.

The One is going to ignite political passion in a way this country hasn’t
seen in a long time. Observers and pundits long in tooth and short in
imagination are going to cry "Unfair!" "Absurd" and "UnAmerican!" Supporters
of The One are
going to rewrite the rule books on what a political campaign looks like
and how it operates.The resulting commotion will bring the system to
the border of collapse. But
it will not, for our system was designed in sterner times
and the vision of our founding fathers goes far beyond what is considered
"normal" by the eunuchs and pig-me’s running the game these days

So, adding it all up, we think we will skip tonight’s Dean Gala. The
lesser of several evils is, after all, still evil, even if unwittingly
so. Instead,
we will probably be right here, at our computer, endlessly searching
the Internet and Blogosphere for evidence that The One is approaching.

Rock of Ages


Joan Anderman, writing
in today’s Boston Globe, has some very interesting observations on inter-generational
taste in music. She
is a music critic, and up on Foo Fighters or Ben Harper or Korn or Sheryl
Crow, while her kids go nuts for the Doors, Cream, Led Zepplin and Yes.

It reminds the Dowbrigade of our #1 son, now residing in the mountains
of Peru trying to simulataneously build and manage a small hostel on
a piece of land we bought 25 years ago because it was the most intensely
beautiful spot we had ever seen. When he was 3, we lived in a tourist
hotel in Huanchaco, a beach town known chiefly for its excellent surfing
and reed boat fishing industry.  The Dowbrigade taught English Literature
and Linguistics at the National University by day, and ran the Bar/Discoteque,
named "Joey’s Pub" after self-same #1 son, by night. Which might at least partially explain what he is currently doing up in the Andes.

It was a wild and
extreme part of our past, and there wasn’t much time for sleep. The whole period
is admittedly hazy in our mind, but we do remember that every night, just
as things were starting to ramp up
the disco
next door, and Joey was being put into bed, he would insist on having
Pink Floyd’s "Atom Heart Mother" put on the stereo. With his blankie
and his He-Man Jammies, and Floyd’s orchestral masterpiece booming in
the background, he was inevitably sound asleep by Gilmore’s guitar solo.

A few years later, the same son refused to board the school van in the
mornings without first listening to the Who’s "Magic Bus" at high volume
was in the days before kids were born with walkmans). On the other hand,
his younger brother, who just enlisted in the Marines, has never liked
the "old stuff" and listens to an extraterestrial collection of whirrs
and clicks and swooshes which can only marginally be classified as music. Go figure. Anyway, Joan writes…

I live in a disco. It opens at 7 a.m. I rise to the primal flow of "Jungle
Boogie," brush with "Mr. Big Stuff," stumble downstairs
to "Super Freak." My daughter is the DJ. The music is coming
from her bedroom. She’s 12, begins every day blasting the "Pure
Funk" compilation, and would rather eat a tomato than allow Avril
Lavigne to infect her record collection.

There are more like her at my house. A 10-year-old who sleeps under
a wall-size poster of the "Stairway to Heaven" lyrics. A
15-year-old whose massive collection of downloaded music is anchored
by what appears
to be every Grateful Dead bootleg ever made.

But there’s been no calculated effort to steer them toward “good” or “real” or “substantial” music. This is no gingerly insinuated nostalgia trip. I’ve never put on a Jimi Hendrix album and I have no idea how my children discovered Pink Floyd. One could argue that this is the way a forward-looking rock critic’s kids rebel — by dismissing mom’s newest favorite lo-fi indie-pop band and embracing the dinosaurs.

from the
Boston Globe