Archive for September, 2004

It Doesn’t Take Much to Start a Revolution

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The prime example in the
world today of the power of the Internet and the Blogosphere to suplant
the established news media as the main source of a nation’s information
is South Korea, where a coalition of blogs and web sites elected a Maverick
president
and blew the old line media out of the water. Now they want
to export their success….

SOUTH KOREA’S MEDIA has been turned on its head by an upstart Internet news portal
called OhmyNews. But can its revolutionary brand of citizen reporting and Internet-only
delivery work elsewhere?

OhmyNews is in fact little more than a Web site, edited by Oh and his fellow
editors, and filled by ordinary members of the public–what the left-leaning
Oh calls "citizen reporters"–who submit stories, comments, pictures
and sometimes video by e-mail and from their cellphones. More than 30,000
of them regularly post pieces, and many more add their comments. A team of
editors
sift through the material, weeding out potential legal problems and rewriting
for readability, while a handful of full-time reporters add their own stories
on the top events of the day

For now, the most lasting lesson Oh and his team can pass
on is that it doesn’t take much to start a revolution. "We can do
anything so long as we have an Internet connection," he says.

from the Far Eastern Economic Review

What’s Up With Technorati?

5

What’s up with Technorati? Long considered the most authoritive and professional
blog tracking site, it seems to be slipping, at least from a public perception
point of view if not in fact in the accuracy of their information.

For a blogger who blogs daily, usually multiple posts,
it can be disconcerting to the point of emotionally upsetting to discover
that the Official Register of the Blogosphere thinks you HAVEN’T UPDATED
YOUR BLOG IN 16 DAYS 12 HOURS AND 22 MINUTES. The very fact it is so
exact gives it all the more weight as officialista reproach.
What a slacker! That Dowbrigade slug hasn’t posted in over two weeks!
He oughta shit it down!

In the listed links, of course, they reference many postings
from within the past two weeks. What’s up whit this.  We are not
enough of a gearhead to understand how Technorati works, but we do ping
them from time to time. Is this due to the growth of the Blogosphere
that they can only get around to checking each blog every three weeks?

our Technorati results

Yale Claims Adam and Eve Lived 3,000 Years Ago

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Most recent common ancestor’ of all living humans
surprisingly recent

New Haven, Conn. — In this week’s issue of Nature, a Yale mathematician presents
models showing that the most recent person who was a direct ancestor of all humans
currently alive may have lived just a few thousand years ago.


“While we may not all be ‘brothers,’ the models suggest we are all hundredth cousins or so,” said Joseph T. Chang, professor in the Department of Statistics at Yale University and senior author on the paper.

from Yale
University press release
via Eureka Alert

Coming Soon to a Campus Near You

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They stood silently in line on a misty, rain swept plaza
outside of Marsh Chapel and in front of the Martin Luther King memorial,
on the campus of Boston University. At first, it was unclear exactly
what they were for, or against.

Upon closer inspection, each of their purple placards bore
a peace symbol and the name of an Iraqi non-combatants killed during
the US occupation of their country. Teachers and students, like us. Messengers
and housewives, little kids playing on the street or walking to school.
Normal people, trying to live their lives, collateral damage in the Bush
family vendetta.

We spoke and discovered that they were part of
the
Inter-University Coalition
for a Humane Foreign Policy
, and
are part of a wide movement to stage protests on every campus in
the Boston area, every Wednesday, at noon, until "the crisis passes".

Watch for them soon, at a campus near you.

Inter-University
Coalition for a Humane Foreign Policy

photo by Dowbrigade

Hey, Watch Where You Put That Hand!

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Linen maker Kameo Corp.’s new "Boyfriend’s Arm Pillow" – which consists
of a headless torso and a stuffed arm that curls around the sleeper – might make
some people uneasy. But not Junko Suzuki, or about 1000 others in Japan who
have bought the pillow, which Kameo says is the first of its kind. The
product went
on the market last
December.

"I like to sleep holding someone’s hand," Ms Suzuki, 34. "And
this pillow makes me feel relaxed because I can hold the arm and feel something
warm at my side."

The pillow is only on sale in Japan, where customers can
buy one for Y8500 ($106.8). Covered in a shirt-shaped pillow cover, it
comes in blue, pink or green.

"It keeps holding me all the way through," she said in her home outside
of Tokyo. "I think this is great because this does not betray me."

The company also has a prototype for its next big project:
a female pillow for men. This one will be shaped like a woman’s lap,
with a "skirt" cover.

Hell, the Dowbrigade has had one of those for years. She’s
in the closet, at least until we get a polyvinyl patch kit…….

from the Queensland
Courier-Mail

Blogs as Therapy – The Jewish General

1

By
now, everybody has probably read the lengthy and reasonably perceptive
article on political bloggers in Sunday’s
New
York Times
. Just in case any of our readers have not, here is a permanent
link
to the story.

What interested us most was the story within the story told by proto-blogger
Mickey Kaus of kausfiles.com about
waking from a dream and stumbling to his computer to blog it before
becoming fully conscious. He writes:

”I was halfway across the room about to blog a dream I just had, without
ever regaining consciousness, before I realized what I was about to
do. If the computer hadn’t been in the other room, I probably would
have."

Kaus took it as a warning sign that he was blogging TOO
much of his personal life. The Dowbrigade begs to differ.  We would
have taken it as an opportunity, and as a promising sign of incipient
enlightenment. Everyone knows you have to write down your dreams before
you fully wake up, or you lose the details and the mood. What more natural
place for a blogger to record them than in his blog.

One of the things we like most about blogging is that
it is such good therapy. Blogs can be an outlet, an alter ego,
a vehicle for self analysis, a means for confronting inner demons and
overcoming phobias. Take it from the Dowbrigade, who studied psychology
at Harvard. Allen Ginsberg famously said he had watched the finest minds
of his generation go insane.
We
may be watching the finest minds of our generation being SAVED BY BLOGS.

In order to prove our point, and illuminate several of
the previously mentioned points, we would like to recount
one of our recurring dreams, a dream that has been dogging the Dowbrigade
since early childhood.

In our sleeping mind it plays out, every time, as a full-length
feature motion picture, with swelling orchestral music and spectacular
opening shots of a cold and stormy Normandy shore, bristling with German
gun encampments, fortified bunkers and, as the imaginary camera pulls
away from the immediate coast, millions of massing tanks and trucks and
artillery pieces swarming over the shore like angry army ants. The title
of the movie is always the same, "The Jewish General".

Although minor variations have popped up over the years,
the basic plot remains the same. We are one of Hitler’s inner circle,
an engineer and naval designer, madly working to prepare for the upcoming
invasion of England. In fact, we have been put in charge of designing
the landing craft in which the invading German hordes will storm the
white cliffs of Dover.

However, and here is where the plot gets interesting and
the dream get hairy, unbeknownst to Herr Hitler and his Nazi minions,
the Dowbrigade is AN ALLIED PLANT, and in reality is an AMERICAN JEW
SPY. His mission: to thwart the invasion by including an ingenious
but fatal flaw in the design of the landing craft. At the crucial moment,
as the hulls of the boats hit the English beach, THE EXIT DOORS WILL
FAIL TO OPEN, and the German soldiers will be trapped in their landing
craft, easy prey to Allied sharpshooters and motor rounds from the cliffs.

Obviously, if we are caught out it would mean a swift and
painful death. And if we are still around when the critical moment of
failure occurs, the gig will be up and we will be doomed. Therefore,
we have planned an elaborate escape on the eve of the invasion, some
nights across the channel in a mini-sub, others by parachute into Nottingham
forest, or melting away to the East, through the lines into our ancestral
homeland Russia.

Sometimes there is a romantic sub-plot, some sexy uniformed
SS Fraulein or exotic Gypsy resistance fighter, and occasionally a comic
sidekick offering clever banter and possibilities of betrayal, but the
dramatic climax invariably comes at a big Nazi meeting a few days before
the actual invasion. At this meeting, always in the same dank windowless
room which we somehow know is far below ground and from which there is no escape, Hitler himself, beaming
benevolently, announces that he is so impressed with our work on the
landing craft that he is ordering us flown immediately to the Nazi fleet
flagship off the English coast, to witness firsthand the triumph of our
design. Our meticulous escape plan is ruined!

The dream always ends in one of a variety of last minute
escapes; sometimes diving off the boat and swimming to shore, sometimes
getting
picked up
by the aforementioned sub, occasionally inventing a crisis somewhere
off the ship to get away.  But we always get away.

Then the credits roll across our inner silver screen, as
the camera pans the smoldering corpses of the Nazi fighters blown to
bits in their defective landing craft. Then we wake up.

Now, this dream has caused us quite a bit of consternation
over the years. One of the main reasons we decided to major in Psychology
when we arrived on campus those many long years ago was to decipher perplexing
dreams like this. Of course, within a year we realized that that was
the reason EVERYBODY in the Psych program was there, and most of them
had dreams considerably more twisted than ours.  In fact, most of
them, students and teachers alike, were certifiably Psycho.

So we transferred to Anthropology, the study of human culture,
and found a much saner variety of weird intellect. We ended up concentrating
on the study of Shamanism, and another opportunity to get our dream explained arose.

We had been living near and studying with the famous Northern
Peru San Pedro Shaman Eduardo Calderon, known in shamanistic circles
as "El Tuno," for about six months, doing the Carlos Casta

So Sue Me

5

It is clear that American culture has
become so litigious that our court system and the medical profession
are in
danger of paralysis due to superfluous lawsuits. For a reminder that
things do not necessarily have to be this way look no further than our
ally in the war on terror, Poland. In the US our friend Pawel would already
be shopping for a house in Bel Air.

WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s state railway PKP is claiming
compensation from a man who caused delays to its services by being run
over by a
train — but said it may forgive the debt after learning the man’s
house had burned down.

"We are acting in accordance with article 415 of the Civil Code,
seeking damages from a person who caused delays in rail traffic," PKP
spokesman Krzysztof Lancucki said on Monday.

He said 19-year-old Pawel Banaszek, who was paralyzed in the incident
in August 2003, caused 2,058 zlotys ($580) worth of losses due to delays.
Accounts of how Banaszek ended up lying on the tracks vary.

"We are the guardians of public property, not a charitable
institution, and we have an obligation to seek compensation in the name
of the taxpayers," Lancucki told Wyborcza.
"Mr. Banaszek could have turned to a court, but he didn’t. He would
lose, and the whole affair would cost (him) many times more."

from Reuters

Warfare for Dummies

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A
scary insight into the level on which our fighting men and woment are
trying to overcome the language and culture gap on the ground in Iraq.
Most of these brave American boys and girls are in their teens and early
twenties, and are relying on these fold-up cheat sheets to cheat death,
stay alive, and husband Iraq down the garden path to enlightened democracy.

A
company named Kwikpoint makes them, and the military hands them out to
personnel. The guides help English-speaking personnel communicate with
prisoners, would-be-detainees, interrogatees, and so on. Don’t speak
Farsi or Iraqi Arabic? Need to tell a prisoner to drop trou and get horizontal
beneath your boot, pronto? Point to the infographic.

Visually, they’re unsettling. The images are functional icons, like highway
signs or web UI buttons, so they reflect a simplified aesthetic — like
early childhood
storybooks. The subject matter is violent, but the look is "see spot run" or "happy
Lego people at play." The funniest one is a two-part diagram where a man
is asked to remove his toupee so the interrogator can determine whether or not
any weapons are stashed beneath (shown in thumbnail here).

from xeni
jardin
at Boingboing

Warfare for Dummies

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Warfare for Dummies

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Some Kids Need the Biggest Toys

6

Springfield, Mass (Dowbrigade News) An enraged driver at
the Massachusetts State Fair today crashed his monster truck into the
Demolition Derby Bumper Car ride about half a mile from the Monster Truck
pit.

Leroy Fenstermeister, the driver of the Monster Truck,
had been disqualified and prohibited from competing in the Monster Truck
obstacle course event due to his obvious intoxication, according to witnesses.

"He grabbed his keys, shouted ‘I’ll show you who’s drunk!’
and jumped into his truck." reported Roberta Ernst, working security at
the event.

Fenstermeister drove out of the motor sports area, through
the air and water rifle kiosks, flattened several popcorn, cotton candy
and hot dough carts, destroyed a row of Port-A-Pottys and ended up in
the middle of the Bumper Car ride.

Miraculously, no one was hurt. Fenstermeister was arrested
and charged with driving under the influence, malicious destruction of
property and leaving the scene of an accident.

picture from worth1000

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

3

 

Yesterday Dave Winer mentioned in passing an idea which
we have been thinking about more and more lately. He
wrote
, "I want
Internet access to become ubiquitous and free as soon as possible."

Let us take that thought to another level. In order to
achieve that goal, the length and breath of America must be wired for
high-speed wireless internet access in the largest public works project
since Eisenhower committed to the Interstate
Highway System
in 1956.

Furthermore, we believe that the installation of a national,
free, public internet interface would bolster American business, multiply
productivity, foster innovation and create a competitive comparative
advantage which would assure American primacy in the wired world well
into the 21st century.

Lately we have been wondering what kind of politician
we would not only
support, but actually get off our ass and work for. This may be the
only issue that would do it. The first candidate for public office
who will pledge to work towards this goal will be the first candidate
to fully tap the potential of the Internet to affect the political
process.

To actually accomplish this goal would require years
and cost billions – like the Interstate Highway system. It will probably
not be possible until we resolve this messy war on terrorism, one
way or another. The highway system sprouted in the immediate aftermath
of WWII. The money Bush is throwing into Iraq would probably be enough
to get the national wireless grid built.

The national net must be public to avoid the merciless
commercialization which is already stifling the innovation and creativity
of the web.  It must be free to insure equal access and transparent
interactivity. In the early days of the American road system
the highways were a frustrating maze of private turnpikes and roads,
toll bridges, closed, impassable stretches and constant guardhouses
and borders. No way to do efficient business.

The first candidate to swear to realize this vision would
be the immediate beneficiary of funding, organization, publicity
and
the
concerted
efforts of the wired political world of all stripes.  This is
an issue we can agree on. This is a vision we can share.

the original article Dave was
commenting on, concerning efforts to wire Philadelphia, is here