An independent view from a semi-technical guy.

Archive for March, 2010

What Fascism & Totalitarianism Actually Look Like via @brainpicker

@brainpicker on Twitter provided this excellent link at the Open Culture site openculture.com that calls for some intellectual honesty. I’m reposting via Posterous to get the post up in as many places as I can as quickly as possible.

If the video doesn’t show below, please go to the original site (link above) to watch! This is very definitely worthy of extra thought.

In the weeks before the US Congress passed major healthcare reform, select members of the political right (from “the base” on up to the leadership) repeated the claim that the Obama administration was turning America into a fascist/totalitarian/Maoist/Nazi state. The language was inflammatory and reckless, and it deeply trivialized the past. Now, it’s time for a little reality check. This is what fascism & totalitarianism actually look like. It looks like prison camps, torture, starvation, the bleakest of bleak conditions, and mass death, running into the millions. And take note: there’s not much healthcare going to the uninsured in this world (nor a strident political opposition, I can assure you). This wartime documentary, Death Mills (above), comes from the great director Billy Wilder (Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard). It was intended to educate Germans about the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. But, apparently it still has educational value for Congressmen, pundits and tea partiers today. Unless, of course, these folks were just being cynical all along.

For those who opposed the healthcare plan intelligently and civilly, don’t take offense. This is not about healthcare per se. It’s about intellectual honesty … or at least setting the historical record straight.

Posted via web from TweetingDonal’s Temporary Insanities


Game Changers: How Online Gamers Can Solve Real World Problems | TakePart Social Action Network: Important Issues, Activism, Environmental, Human Rights, Political News

Take Note MMORPG folks, especially WOW people, this one’s for you!

Jane McGonigalHow about a little inspiration for your Friday morning, folks? It doesn’t get much better than Jane McGonigal’s talk at last month’s TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference. 

The 20-minute video is after the jump; a full viewing is highly recommended. But here’s the gist for those of you without time to spare: online gamers have the skills, the endurance, and the opportunity to play a serious role in changing the world. McGonigal, director of games research and development at the Institute for the Future, believes that games help players develop many of the tools it takes to make a difference: collaboration, perseverance, ambition, creativity.

In short, we’ve got an army of what she calls “super-empowered hopeful individuals” just waiting for a way to translate all that virtual success into some real world good.

These people know how to work with others to solve seemingly insurmountable problems. And the amount of time gamers spend doing so—World of Warcrafters have collectively dedicated 5.93 million years, she says—means that hundreds of millions of people around the world are fine-tuning those tools. The average young person in a game-heavy country

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Media Manipulation Illusion Example

Edit 2010 03 15:
It’s always difficult to show where my thoughts begin and end on these Posterous blog updates… perhaps I should stop using it and find a better blog distribution tool. For clarification, I found this post by Vurdlak over on the moillusions.com site and thought it depicted the Orwellian nature of our world reasonably well… after reviewing, the post again, I see it’s unclear that the words below were from another person. So I’ve added this comment just for context.
– Larry

January 26, 2010 by Vurdlak

I don’t know if these shots were taken from an actual photojournalism, or were they just used as a theoretical example, but either way consider this a pretty powerful demonstration. See for yourself how our our perception can be easily shaped, and manipulated with by the media. I believe it isn’t necessary to explain this optical illusion. Photos speak for themselves. Imagine you worked for an administration that wants you to show how soldiers have no mercy when it comes to war. You would use the cropped picture on your left in that case. However, if you worked for the other side, and wanted to depict soldiers as human beings, you would crop the right part of the original photo. There you have it! Such powerful example amazes me, but in the same time scares the sh*t out of me. Which makes me think, should we be more skeptic to stories medias bombard us with?

Media Manipulation Optical Illusion

For those of you who are intensely aware of this, my apologies for wasting your time and attention. For those who are unfamiliar with the idea that someone is making decisions about what you see, and what you know, please think hard about the implications of this posting. Especially when it comes to things like School Textbooks.

“we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex… Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.” — President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Posted via web from TweetingDonal’s Temporary Insanities


WWII Women Airforce Service Pilots Honored With Gold Medal : NPR please RT

These people are long overdue for recognition… It is great to see them get some recognition, although we can never give them as much as they deserve.

Posted via web from TweetingDonal’s Temporary Insanities


James_MacLeod_web.jpg (800×578)

Great cartoon from the Union of Concerned Scientists in the US. Seems to sum things up pretty well.

Posted via web from TweetingDonal’s Temporary Insanities


A Brief History of Senate Reconciliation Votes

A Brief History of Senate Reconciliation Votes

As Democrats move forward to pass health care reform attention has focused on a key piece of Senate rules known as budget reconciliation. This post takes Senate vote records covering 13 key reconciliation votes from 1990 to 2007 to show how senators in both parties voted–and how sitting senators voted in the past–on a variety of reconciliation bills.

(Click on the image to the right for a full visualization of these reconciliation votes.)

Reconciliation is a legislative process in the Senate commonly used to pass legislation concerning spending, revenues or the debt-limit. The process has been used 22 times since 1974. More often than not, these bills have been vehicles for large reforms in the tax code, health care and other social programs from education to welfare. One key reason that reconciliation is used for major reforms is that the process is subject to different rules than other bills. Most importantly, reconciliation bills are not subject to cloture votes–the 60 vote supermajority procedure to overcome a filibuster–and thus only require a 50 vote majority to pass.

The voting record shows that reconciliation is often used as a way to pass otherwise contentious legislation that could not receive sufficient bipartisan support to reach the 60 vote supermajority necessary to clear a cloture vote. Seven of the thirteen reconciliation measures examined here passed between 1990 and 2007 were almost universally opposed by the minority party while gaining almost total unity in support from the majority using the reconciliation process.

You want to read this whole article… and you will want to follow the Sunlight Foundation :)

Posted via web from TweetingDonal’s Temporary Insanities


Guess who’s speaking to college students about ethics?

Guess who’s speaking to college students about ethics?

Believe it or not, last night’s speaker was Illinois’ ex-governor, Rod Blagojevich. Chicago’s ABC News affiliate reports:

The former Illinois governor facing federal corruption charges addressed Northwestern University students Tuesday night on the subject of ethics.

“If I did all the things they said I did, I wouldn’t be anywhere near this event,” said Blagojevich.

In his opening statements, Blagojevich proclaimed his innocence, accused the federal prosecutor of unethical behavior, and accused legislative leaders Mike Madigan and John Cullerton of practicing what Blagojevich defines as corruption.

Last year, Blagojevich had hoped to travel to Costa Rica so he could be filmed in a TV reality show. But a judge denied his request to leave the country. The people of Illinois probably feel they have already endured one reality show too many from Blagojevich.

I continue to believe that I’ve fallen into the surreal… what? Red Queen? no? … help?

Posted via web from TweetingDonal’s Temporary Insanities


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