Violence is Infectious

Duh! Scientists once again chase the obvious. The 'civilized' nature of man in this generation is a far cry from what was considered 'civilized' in all prior generations. It was only in the 1970's that corporal punishment started loosing favor as the discipline of choice for children. Mass deprivation and killing were common, legitimate means of enforcing government rule in centuries past, and is still practiced in some countries today.

In this country many of us struggle to comprehend how some peoples of this time and before can be so brutal. But, violence has always bred violence. This is nothing new. What is being overlooked is the growing stratification of understanding. Violence is so alien to some people these days that it no longer has meaning is the sense that violence is something "sane" people are capable of.


Just Getting Along

This article at Science Blog is interesting because it says what we already know, but in a way that explains what we might not understand. With regard to being young; the word I recall most associated with youth is, "idealism".

An idealist might be described as a person who absolutely, in no way, is capable of comprehending that there may be more than one viable answer.

Sometimes I long for younger days, but I no longer yearn for younger thoughts.


I'm Going to Tell On You!

Words that every child knows, and every child fears. When we were children and we used those words we would march to a parent or adult with righteous indignation at the unfairness we'd been dealt, often the offender clinging and begging for mercy. When we heard those words because we had done something (wrong) we became the clinger and the beggar. But sometimes, if we thought "they" were weak enough, we would force them into submission and no one ever found us out.

There are adults that still play that game, only the stakes are much higher. Yesterday was 'World Press Freedom Day' and journalists around the world marked the day with protests in many countries against government censorship and jailing of reporters.

The act of harming people to prevent discovery, or because the truth they carry is unwelcome, is ages old. The saying, "Don't shoot (kill) the messenger" dates back to Sophocles in 442 B.C. Years later it was penned by Shakespeare in 'Henry IV, Part II' (1598) and in 'Antony and Cleopatra' (1606-07).

I don't know if I would have the courage to persevere against the same consequences that many journalists have faced. I for one am thankful to those strong enough to set the truth free.

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Wagon Train to the Moon

We can't stop exploring the unknown. At least this time we're planning ahead. In centuries past the task of exploring and colonizing meant packing as much as you could carry and then, on faith alone, set out for places never seen with only a hope that anyone would survive. Abraham setting out from Haran; Columbus for the edge of the world; wagon trains into the west. How soon before there are people off-earth who've never set foot on this planet?


What is the Change that's Happening Here?

This report from the Department of Justice shows that prison populations are rising. In terms of change what does this mean? I've also noticed that prison population numbers correlate to the rise in unemployment, rise in general population numbers, and the cost of living. So, is prison population climbing because American society is degenerating, or because there are more people to commit crimes? I'm voting for the latter.

The Blog Link that Changed the World

Tongue in cheek, humor intact, I officially dub this "The Blog Link that Changed the World."


The Warm Glow of Faith

It just makes too much sense that faith and spirituality contribute to health and endurance. It's not so much about any religion as much as it's about faith. Those without it hope for nothing better, those with it know there is something better.


Yet Another Chilling Myth

From the dawn of time man has made magic and myth of anything that does not have a simple explanation. And, it would seem that no matter how much we come to know about the world around us, the allure of myth, evil spells, curses, and spirits cannot be overcome.

In this particular case it appears that the Iceman has it in for anyone that disturbed his icy slumber. If the curse is true, than shouldn't he be laid inside a lead vault or something to stop his superpowers? And given the reach of his curse, what possesses so many people to rush to his side to look upon his body. Are they not then also exposed to his curse.

I think another explanation of these myths might make more sense. My explanation is that archeologists, as a group, are inherently sickly and accident prone.


Classroom Changes via USDA

Walk into just about any elementary school classroom in America and certain "things" are always there. Across the top of at least one wall is the alphabet. One wall is always given over to a collection of the latest papers and projects turned in by the students, somewhere a globe of the earth rests, and somewhere on a wall is the USDA nutritional pyramid chart. The charts is usually brightly colored with clipart drawings of the various food types.

Tomorrow morning the USDA will unveil their new "symbol and food guidance system" in response to criticism that the old daily nutrition guidelines have been a contributor to obesity in children.

Next week classrooms will start sporting this new chart. Changes that matter are often subtle, but definitely universal.


This is My Land

For untold years dating beyond human memory the Indians of the Amazon rainforest have carved out an existence.... Separated by the wilderness that is their home from any and all other human beings.

Then one day a 'government' declares their borders... And the people of the rainforest suddenly become a part of something they would have never wanted. How many times in history has this happened. One day you belong to no one, and the next you find out your world is not your own and your way of life is no longer "legal".

There is, of course, something to be said for the peace and order a government can bring to a society. And yet, so much has been lost in this world throughout history because governments often do not tolerate the bounderies of the people they say they serve. I am glad that the Indians of the Amazon have won this victory to maintain the culture and heritage of a land they can rightfully call their own.


Greed in Space

According to this article, Europeon scientists are on a quest to lay claim to property on Mars.

Mars is a big place... and at some point mankind will live there. My bet is that a society on Mars will eventually chuck all off-planet authority to be in charge of their own destiny (sounds like a sci-fi tea party doesn't it?).

It is so hard-wired into mankind to be 'in control' that when the time comes, it will be a difficult, and maybe, a bloody revolution will occur... followed by generations of Martian citizens gathering on Mars Freedom Day for parades and barbecues.

More on the Ugly Theme

This article supports a sad truth of what we've always known; Looks count. The further back in history we look the more severe are the examples of appearance discrimination. There was a time when looking different might mean death. And not for color of skin, but for color of eyes, hair, facial features, body characteristics that did not match what was considered acceptable.

Over time fortunately this part of our society has, for the most part changed. Yet the instinct appears to live on. I am glad I believe all of my children and grandchildren are the most beautiful human beings on earth.


When Did Ugly Become the Argument Against Change

I love trees. I'm not sure but tree-loving might be a requirement in order to live in California. This article though at mezzoblue.com gave me pause. The author used Google's new satellite maps to show a wood/tree harvesting region in British Columbia in support of his argument against clearcutting. From me, two thoughts:

One, by studying the photos I observe that the cut regions account for less than one quarter of the total acreage shown, but thanks to the illusion of white-space, first impressions of the photos leave the viewer thinking that the cut regions overwhelm the uncut.

Two, to make significant reductions in tree harvesting is to virtually discontinue the use of wood. OK. That was easy. So, which natural resource would you like to replace it with? On an earlier day in this blog I observed that it seems impossible that we haven't run out of so many resources already. It is wonderful that wood is a renewable resource, and clearcutting is the best way to expedite the growth of new trees. Too bad the same cannot be said of oil or minerals.

Obviously mankind is having an impact on earth and watching the earth change is not always fun or desirable. Change is almost never easy. Yet, the earth must evolve with mankind as we do need its resources to survive. Mankind will not stop consuming them, and we will not go back to living in huts eating nuts and berries.

So from a satellite the pattern of clearcutting does not make for pretty pictures. I hope the argument against clearcutting does not become an argument for cosmetic appeal.


A BIG Change -- I've Given Up Nicotine

As a recent convert to the world of non-smokers I've spent a lot of time investigating what works and what does not... This article over at MedicineNet.com is fairly typical of the many ways people are dreaming up new 'tricks' to overcome a bad habit.

The answer for me came in the book on the left. Allen Carr's 'The Easy Way to Stop Smoking'. And just like he promised; It was easy. No tricks, gimmicks, weird thinking or funny devices. One day I'm a smoker, the next I am not.

Of course it's true that one thing will not work for all people... so this book is not a miracle. Just mine. If you smoke, click the link, buy the book, get ready to change! Or at least, that is my hope for you in your effort. I am totally with you, man!


Change Happens by Granting Access

Today's posts both span a great distance to illustrate change in our time. In 1519 Martin Luther printed several sections of the Bible, and against the wishes of the Church, made the Bible available to anyone that wanted to read it. Knowledge and access for all. No more middleman to beseech. In that time it was pretty powerful, mankind changing stuff.

Now, in 2005, we are getting close to redistributing knowledge and access on an equal scale, maybe bigger. The means? Computers, communications, and access to a heretofore financially guarded world.

Say hello to MIT colleagues Seymour Papert and Mitch Resnick and their idea to put computers in the hands of 1.8 billion children. Besides the pure chaos of online growth of that magnitude, the idea could be the largest social equalizer since Martin Luther opened the Bible to public consumption. There are a lot of things that influence the course of mankind. I would argue that knowledge will always remain the largest catalyst of change.

The Church of England Keeping the Party Line

In 1526 King Henry VIII petitioned the Vatican to divorce his current wife in order to marry Ann Boleyn, a servant in his household. When the Vatican would not sway King Henry created the Church of England naming himself as its head and moral beacon.

Now Britain's Prince Charles, after carrying on an affair for more than 30 years, including the years of his marriage to Princess Diana, has married the woman of his affair. All in all, Prince Charles is (currently) single, and should be quite able to marry whomever he pleases (with their permission of course). But the evidence is clear, the man who will be King, and wife who will be Queen, have proven they do not have their own internal moral compass. In all cases when the good of others or self are in the balance, they have chosen for self. Such will be their legacy to England.

Too bad for England and the monarchy. And the best irony; Once Charles becomes King of England he also inherits the title as leader of the Church of England.


Top 10 Greatest Catalysts for Change

This article over at New Scientist is interesting. They call it, "Life's top 10 greatest inventions," but I don't see it that way. Just about everything on the list was not 'invented', but instead, are naturally occuring processes that mankind has stumbled across and made useful in some way. Of course, if you are a Christian, then each of these are inventions. His.


Should Death Row Have a Public Voice?

Vernon Evans, Jr. killed two people, was sentenced to death in the State of Maryland and now lives on death row. Now Vernon has is being given a voice on the internet. Some people are pretty happy about it. I think their excitement is related to disagreement with death as a penalty for crime and the opportunity to humanize the inmates facing that fate.

It feels wrong to popularize the thoughts of individuals that have committed crimes horrible enough to incur the maximum legal wrath of a jury. Whether a criminals sentence is measured in years or in the ending of their life, the fact remains that the convicted individual was twisted enough in some way to have committed the crime.

What would we want to talk to this person about? What quirks of logic and desperate thinking would we be listening to as the convict reaches out for empathy.

A good rule in life is to hate the sin (the crime), and love the person. I can do that, but my empathy for a human does not heal them or make what they have done OK. I can safely assume the highest majority of criminals serving life sentences, or death sentences, are not people I want to hear from nor do I want people around me to be influenced by their thinking.

It was an abandonment of moral sense that precipitated Vernon's crime, and now others will abandon theirs simply to manipulate a cause.


Chemistry Cannot Fix Everything

This article at Science Blog reports on a study that just makes good sense. For years researchers of psychiatric chemistry have been looking for the pill that makes everything OK for people in mental distress. Somehow, such a pill would have to change the history of the person taking it. It would have to erase their memories of trauma, terror, abuse, and reorder the neurons in their head to prevent relapse. Sounds like an illegal drug that would spawn a new 12-Step group to me...

What makes sense in the study is the finding that people need empathy, direction, and time in order to heal from trauma and depression. Taking a pill cannot possibly teach anyone how to manage their life or emotions. Chemicals may numb the symptoms, but they leave a person unfinished and incomplete.


Religion by the People

In the aftermath of the death of Pope JPII the media is jumping on the opportunity to prognosticate what changes are needed or will happen in religion, 'according to the people.' Examples are here and here. Questions around marriage, sex, preaching, lifestyles, etc., which of course, people answer with views leaning toward more leniency and broader acceptance of all things.

Just a thought on my part; I can't find the verses in the Bible where God surveyed us before deciding His vision for mankind. I wonder if CNN or USA Today thought to include God's views in their survey.



I watched 'Platoon' this afternoon. I am changed by all that that time in history was. I am thankful to be living and learning still.


When Day Turns to Night

Darkness in the middle of the day. It has only been understood by mankind for a few hundred years. Before that myths, legends, and rituals was the defense of choice against what appeared to be the impending end of the world. I'm certain nothing could look better than 'saving the world' on the resume of a shaman or wizard. Even though we know what it is now, when it happens, it's still sort of creepy and unreal. On April 8th it will happen again for people in southern parts of the USA, all of Mexico and much of South America, but we'll only see a partial eclipse. To see a total eclipse you'll need to be on a ship in the middle of the South Pacific. For those of you still certain greater evil is afoot; here is your fair warning. You have six more days to gather your supplies, practice your chants, and dust off the funiture in your favorite bomb shelter.


Accept Me or I Will Hate You

This opinion expressed over at BuzzMachine is confusing. The author is upset because several religious leaders got together to actively stand up for their faith. The author (with an opposing set of beliefs), wants these leaders to feel shame. It's not like this is a new principle the leaders came up with on a whim. Their position has been in black and white for centuries. Apparently, according to the author, only one side is allowed to actively promote their beliefs, and the other is to be ridiculed for their opposition.

The acknowledgment of free speech has been a wonderful change in modern society. Being free to speak though does not mean that others must listen. Nor does free speech give anyone the right to scream in the face of those opposed to your opinions... which is what the author is arguing for. He demands the religious leaders should be understanding of his views, but chooses not to recognize theirs.


When We Run Out of Stuff

I have driven down so many streets lined for miles with all of these little tiny businesses stacked one on top of another and wondered to myself how all of these folks manage to stay in business. WHERE are all of their customers coming from? How can all of these businesses have enough people walking through their doors that they can hang on day after day, year after year. It is beyond comprehension.

And so to I think the same thing about all of the resources that mother earth has to provide. This story makes me think -- what will happen when....

Right now 6 BILLION people are on this planet consuming the stuff of earth. I walk into a grocery store and the shelves are still filled, the gas stations still have gas, and when I flush the toilet there is water running. A huge change is coming. I hope I am old enough that I don't live in the next world after everything runs out. Posted by Hello


Can Media Manipulate Change?

The Schiavo predicament is heartbreaking to say the least. It is a decision that has troubled most of mankind since the beginning of human history. How many countless times has a loved one hung in the balance at the hand another when choices need to be made. In recent years this choice has been made by an ever increasing number of people... now that the ability to 'pull the plug' has arrived.

This one time though, the media, like little school kids running back and forth across the playground playing two sides against each other, are giddy with their own excitement as they rush to print the latest arguments to incite a new round of activity.

There is nothing new in this case except for the inner circle of Terri's family who are willing to allow this very private matter to become the gossip fodder of the world at-large. Shame on them. Shame on the media. Shame on mankind.


Schiavo: A Remarkably Fresh Thought

I am happy to link to a writer that steps outside of his own opinion to ponder, within the parameters of his faith, the struggle of the victim trapped in limbo. We cannot speak for God nor can we judge what His exact choices will be in all things. But we can know that all of our ranting, yelling, accusing, arguing, pleading and crying is not a consideration in His conversation with Terri.


Stress + Exertion = Heart Attack (DUH!)

Several years ago I had a heart attack. It came early in the morning, which my doctor explained was the most common time of day for heart attacks. It seems that the most stressful moment in every day for our hearts is when we wake up (full rest to fully awake). When I read this report my first thought was, "DUH!" No kidding. Was there a doctor out there that didn't get the memo? I'm pretty sure the medical community already had that figured our years and years ago. Research is a wonderful thing when what is being researched is something we have yet to learn. Maybe this report was done by the Remedial Research Group at the University College London


Researchers 1 - Children 0

Research out of the University of Texas states that the social and intellectual development of children 0-3 years is not effected if their mothers spend less time with them (working moms). OK... they can say that, but that doesn't make it sound right. Yes, I'm a guy, so what could I know about such things. Maybe nothing at all. But I did pause when noticing the research was done by working mothers.

Two things. First, it has been demonstrated that research finds what the researchers are looking for. Using logic and cold hard fact gathering often produces exactly what we'd like it to prove. Instinct however tends to only prefer one answer.

And second: Now that the research is published it is this sort of finding that will have a huge ripple effect over time on the choices that families make. I would imagine a counter study will be launched and the issue will take on new legs around marriage,same sex marriages, single parenting, etc.

For now I am sticking with instinct, and I suspect, so will the mothers of a lot of happy babies.


Change as Seen Through Humor

I think cartoonists can sometimes be the most insightful about what is changing in the world we live in. This blog says alot.


Is Technology the Answer for Social Networking?

The good folks over at Wired took a look at the current state of social networking. You can read their story here. In the last several months I have 'invitations' from people that signed up for the service, started adding their contact list, which in turn generated an email to me inviting me to update my bio and contact information.

What has happened over time is that I am getting requests from people I don't know, that through someone linked to someone else have found my name and wish to add me to their contacts list.

The idea of using technology to broaden my social/business networks seems attractive. Any change that increases the opportunity to communicate needs to be explored. In this case though I don't think I'm quite ready to jump on board. It feels too 'virtual', like chat rooms and instant messaging where there are no sensory experiences that build trust.

If the social networking folks, like LinkedIn, could hook up with the folks over at Skype, and maybe throw in a bit of webcam.... Hmmm.

Some Folk's Must Meddle

This article in the NY Times is a good example how some folk's believe it's OK to meddle in the choices of others. Or, maybe it's a story created by a paper that can't stand happy beginnings, middles, or ends.


We the Entitled

I read through a lot of information every day; News from mainstream, opinion columns, press releases, industry news, and blogs (with opinions on all of it). And while reading what the blogs are reporting on I have felt an less than positive undercurrent I couldn't quite put my finger on... until now. The undercurrent I have been feeling is the aura of entitlement in the words and opinion of too many bloggers.

Case in point; Mark Jen gets fired at Google, and in his own words, understands the position and actions of Google even if he does not agree. But, in posts like here, and here, other bloggers have come down on Google as if Google was behind everything evil in the world and scream about how unfair everything is.

Another case in point; A person wanders into an art gallery and is told that pictures of the (for sale) art work are not allowed (story here). I imagine in the original context of what was happening was that the writer found a humorous photo and wanted to share it with friends, and wanted to be in the picture with the art. But after the oh-my-goodness rude treatment by the store manager, SUDDENLY, we have a cause!

NOW the story is about bad marketing and lost opportunity and others have jumped to the 'cause'. Never mind that in writing her rant she did not link to the artist or offer up any support to overcome the shortcomings she was so concerned about, nor was she in the gallery on the artists behalf in the first place.

It's this aura of entitlement that bloggers have started to wear. It sometimes feels like we are being dismissed as silly if we don't see things their way. Their opinions are stated as facts, and anyone else with facts that disagree are told they are offering biased opinion. It's high school, the in-crown and clubs all over again. People are told they are stupid, talked down too. Too many of the bloggers arguments and rants have a whole lot of 'what's wrong with you is...' and not enough, 'here is my take on this topic'. It's blaming and shaming on a grand scale.

The blogsphere is still relatively small. The number of people that even know what a blog is remains a small percentage compared to other, more pervasive technologies or means of communication.

I’d like to believe that the blogging community comes to know that being read by a lot of people does not make a person right. It just means they are (for the moment) popular. We are not entitled; people don’t have to listen or agree.

Having said all of that I’m certain my little corner of readers will review my prior posts to make sure I’m not violating my own opinion.


Cancer Has a New Enemy

Stopping cancer in its tracks would create a lot of change. Maybe researchers are finally catching up to it.


How to Co-op a Crisis to Instigate Change

This article over at Science Blog reports that a water crisis awaits Nepal, India and China in 20 years when the Himalayan glaciers have receded beyond a certain level. And the reason the crisis exists is of course, global warming.

Last year a study was released demonstrating that the recent increases in glacial retreat has a starting point far earlier than the capability for mankind to have caused it. In fact the glaciers have been receding for thousands of years. But in the ever present need of mankind to point fingers at something or someone they can control, the dear folks at WWF, the global conservation organization have found all sorts of means to keep firing shots to keep their agenda alive.

Everything they report sounds so credible that it's silly for us to question their findings. Of course the Himalayan glaciers are receding, and yes, it does mean that solutions to that water crisis need to be found. But rather than focus on the problem they hijacked it to prove their own point.

It is so terribly true that mankind has made a mess of the atmosphere and it must be addressed quickly. What never flies with me though is using someone else's pain for gain or attention.


The End is Near?!

This story out of Milwaukee is heartbreaking and tragic. A bent and distraught man steps into his church, starts gunning people down, and then finishes his rampage on himself. As I read deeper into the story it occured to me that something was feeding the mind of this man, and sadly it may have been the teachings of the church he terrorized. He was a member of a church that is focused on the end of all things. 'The end is near,' is pretty much the message of the Sabbath for the Living Church of God.

His state-of-being was fed by immersion in doom. It makes sense that such a man would be drawn to a church preaching a manmade doctorine of fear. Obviously he was far from normal, not as evidenced by the life he led, but by his final actions.

The christianity I am familiar with is a faith of new beginnings and hope. Waving a Bible inside four walls does not a church make. A church is born of people connecting to the message of God. In the case of the Sabbath for the Living Church of God, they have been built on a message of man. I will pray for the victims, and, for the members that remain.


Idealism Can Be Stupid

I drove through a fairly high-rent area of Southern California this afternoon, and with activists waving signs from all four corners of an particular intersection a drive-by protest was in progress. The activists were people of that area. Students of privilege, parents of means, people that obviously have experienced more opportunity than others waving their signs and demanding attention to their cause.

Oh yah... their rant of the moment; Stop the evil President Bush and his drive to change Social Security!

Here are the very people that DO have control of their future. Who DO NOT need the safety net of outside assistance. These people are so far removed from the reality of anyone that does or will depend on assistance... it just seems stupid.

What these people are expressing is a feeling about politics, but they've chosen a cause that is hypocritical for them to represent. From the lap of luxury and privilege they want to convince us that their life is miserable because of the evil policies of the current American President.

I remember when ideology seemed the most important thing to me. I guess I don’t remember how silly I must have looked.


It's FICTION, Not a Manifesto

Jeremy Leggett is chief executive of Solarcentury, the UK's largest independent solar electric company, a member of the UK government's Renewables Advisory Board, and apparently Jeremy Leggett is just a bit full of himself.

Over at NewScientist.com he's decided that Michael Crichton's latest work of fiction, State of Fear, is a real-time manifesto aimed at derailing the global warming movement. I am certainly not qualified to know which end is up in the debate on global warming, but I am qualified to know the difference between a manifesto and a book of fiction written to entertain.

WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU JEREMY that you need to beat your chest and cry foul over a story written and presented and fiction. Catch that key word. F-I-C-T-I-O-N.

Change is a tough thing. An issue as large and lengthy in effect as global warming has/is/will create difficult choices, will be pushed back at, questioned, studied, and debated for generations to come. And like all big issues of any time, the story tellers of the day will use current news as a foundation for creating their tales.

While looking for the evil that prevents people from switching to your power-feed (it does not escape my attention that your paycheck comes from your environmentally friendly solar energy company) try looking in the mirror. What many of the loudest of activists don't seem to understand is that by their very radical and in-your-face attitude about what people should do and think, they turn off and turn away the audience they pursue.

Put the book back on the shelf Jeremy and go fight for reform in the world of non-fiction.

A Picture is Worth a Million Years: Timelines

I love timelines... and Parthenon Graphics has posted a bunch. From ancient civilizations and religions to Mary Kay and Harley Davidson, you can get lost for days wondering the paths of time.


Nature of Man vs Nature of Policies

Pointing fingers is as old and embedded in mankind as is the nature of man to act without moral. You can witness this in the current story on Iraq prison abuses playing itself out in media.

Something really bad happened. A bunch of soldiers, barely beyond their parents grasp in years, were given responsibilities far beyond their moral maturity, and through innuendo and the calamity of the moment reverted into sordid and cruel bullies.

As a young Marine I can remember how I too felt untouchable. Young people in military service are given the greatest power of all. To take life. Anything less than that, at the time you’re living it, almost seems OK. But what they did was not.

Then you have activists and drama-mongers who must have someone to blame – and they’re pointing their finger at the evil leaders in the Pentagon and their ‘policies of terror’. “Of course,” they say, “People don’t do these kinds of things on their own. Someone made them/taught them/forced them to do those terrible things!” “These were just sweet innocent, God-fearing men and women that we sent to war and you corrupted them!”

And of course, those guilty jump at the chance to take the mantle of wrongness from themselves and place it on someone/thing else.

Abuse, cruelty and meanness is around us all the time. Mankind is quite capable of doing such terrible things. That is the way it has been since the beginning of time. The difference for those soldiers in Iraq? Someone took pictures.


Accountability and Indifference

The news that Boeing released Harry Stonecipher, its CEO, after it was revealed he was having an affair with another executive is an interesting story because it departs from the path of indifference that people have been traveling. So often we are told that a persons shortcomings in one area should not be held against them in another... what someone does in their home should not be factored into how they might be at the office. And, because of the rise in "alternative lifestyles", we are told that lifestyle choices should not be considered in measuring a person at work.

I think Boing got it right. A person does not put on a different set of character traits as they step between work and home. Who we are, what we believe, what we will and will not accept, how we treat others, how we think, and our morality is universal to work and home. If I am capable of lying to a friend, than it makes sense that I am capable of lying to a co-worker or boss. If I demonstrate disdain for others through lifestyle choices, then my disdain will most certainly be present at work.

The most uncomfortable change in society in the last several decades has been a rising militant insistance that the rights of an individual preclude any greater good. At what point can reason and reasonability be recognized?

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A Change in Society as Seen Though Art

Over at CSM Ben Shapiro writes a solid opinion about changes in art expression over the years. It's a must read.

One particular statement he makes is worth thinking about: "Over the past century, traditional morality has been discarded in favor of personal morality. Subjectivism in art means the death of art; subjectivism in morality means the death of a functioning society. Amorality - the lack of objective moral standards applicable to everyone - quickly devolves into immorality. "

I could not agree more. A successful society works because, as naturally herding creatures, we maintain our respect for the herd. We are a part of it, not the other way around. Though we exist as individuals we can only survive with others.

In the current "state of society" the people wishing to promote personal morality will say that it's working. They'll ask you to look at all of the individuals who live and act in such and such a manner and everything seems to be working out just fine.

What I believe is really happening is the balance of morality beliefs still leans toward "traditional" and it is this part of the "herd" that allows the others to survive. While one portion of the people continues to hold the fabric of our society together, a smaller, but growing part gets to bounce around with indifference, ignorant that their freedom to "be" is supported by the people they would hold in disdain.

Anyway, just my thoughts. I'm going to head back to the herd now.

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Gunner Palace

Until the last few centuries families and commerce traveled with an army while it was at war. Information about battles, being able to witness the action and knowing the outcomes was immediate. Then it became the practice of the military to isolate itself from the civilian and dependent population as the path to war started to span across continents and oceans.

So far removed we became dependent on the militarys to report on themselves, or on war correspondents that were heavily guided by networks and governments. Of course, if the battles are in your backyard the story is quite different.

What has changed recently is access. Once again we have opportunity to experience, witness, and know. Through technology and social pressure we can know what is real. For each person effected by any war this change could be wonderful or catastrophic. What is important is that we have a choice. Gunner Palace is just such an effort to show more than just news clips.

Video Games are Good

For some parents this report on the just released study by BMC Pediatrics may be as unbelievable as hearing that smoking has health benefits. Sometimes, having our outlook changed on "the way things have always been" to something different feels unrealistic.

Video games stand accused of all sorts of bad things. They promote violence, they curtail the physical growth of our youth, they turn people into video addicts, they inhibit the development of social skills, they are packed with mind-bending subliminal messages, and finally, they are the evil tool of greedy corporations.

I think I'm liking the report findings a lot more than other worried guesses.

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Change is a Destination

As Seth Godin so aptly reminds us, "Change" is not a destination we arrive at. It is a destination we choose to depart for.

Paranoia, Immigration, and Democracy

Paranoia in control once again. This just in: “The Department of Homeland Security is experimenting with a controversial new method to keep better track of immigrants who are applying to remain in the United States. It is requiring aliens in eight cities to wear electronic monitors 24 hours a day.”

The big question that comes to mind is: Why is it wrong for people to go where people want to go?

If a citizen of another country enters the United States with the goal of living and working here, but does not participate in all of the checks and balances we’ve created (regulation, taxation, education, etc.) to keep our country socially and economically healthy, then definitely there is a problem with consequence on American citizens.

If a citizen of another country enters the United States with the goal of living and working here, and does participate in the system we’ve established, then I am at a loss to understand what has been harmed.

The whole idea that governments “own” their citizens is archaic enough. Participating in the rules of a country you reside in has merit and benefit. “Ownership” becomes apparent for many when they try to join another country. Some countries do not allow its citizens to move or join anywhere else. The majority of countries make the process of joining onerous and complicated.

As the world we live in becomes smaller and smaller (by virtue of technology and awareness) we will have to rethink what geographic boundaries represent, adjust our attitudes about the movement and freedom of people, and work towards unification of understanding. Right now it appears that governments are fighting like crazy to make old thinking work in a new world.

I personally believe democracy is the answer. Allowing “the people” to choose within an self-established and ordered social structure has produced some pretty wonderful results. I don’t believe it is one man’s (or governments) place to tell another man where they can live. I do believe we should be able to expect that anyone choosing to live here would honor the rules and structures that make this Country great.

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Plotting the Process of Free Will

Could it be argued that without 'free will' our society becomes dogmatic, predictable, and joyless? I believe that would be the case.

At Caltech researchers are studying the effects of marketing on the human brain and along the way are getting "a glimpse at how the brain assembles belief." In application, this sort of understanding could create significant and long lasting change in our world. And maybe not for the better.

I am a marketer by profession, and as such, I think a lot about what other people are thinking. If I want people to sit up and pay attention to something I'm marketing then I need insight to what might cause them to do so. If Caltech succeeds in their research, my job will be a walk in the park.

Instead of using intuition and hope, I'd know. My marketing campaign would be built with triggering elements to insure that my targeted buyers have no avenues of choice but for the one I want them to make. They could no more escape my manipulations than choose not to breath, and all along the way my targets would believe they are making the choice on their own.

So what happens when our 'will' is no longer 'free'? Even worse, what happens in our society when we don't even know our will is no longer free?


Some People Can't Stand Equality

This story in the Washington Post this morning reports on the findings that the quality of life for girls and boys is about equal according to the researchers at Duke University. What is not surprising is how quickly the study drew adamant criticism from both sides of the "this gender has it worst" crowd.

It is this exact kind of debate that manipulates change to suit a few and not the many. Both sides stand to lose mindshare ground for their 'cause' if the study is accepted as is. Nothing puts out the fire of injustice faster than learning there is none. Both sides have invested passion, time and money in bringing about change that suits their grievance. Both sides have commissioned research to prove their point. Neither side can conceptualize that their mission might be flawed.

I believe it is quite natural that individually we are always looking for and jumping at the chance to fight for something. That tendency is part of what is beautiful about the human spirit.

Two neighboring farmers have been feuding with each other for years over the quality of their corn. In court, with agricultural inspectors, and granaries, each believed their corn would grow better and sell higher but for the presence of the neighbors corn. It seems each had commissioned a soil test, and both tests "proved" that the their neighbors strain of corn was leaching all of the nutrients from the ground and was probably effecting any crops nearby. Armed with their studies they were able to secure extra funding, equipment, and other favorable allowances to offset their “losses”.

Believing it would be a good field project, a professor at the local university sent his students out to do their own research. When the study was complete the university announced that the cross-pollination of the two strains of corn had produced a single "super-strain" and that the crops where quite equal in quality and the soil on neither property was in jeopardy.

“Balderdash,” cried the first farmer. “Look at all of the evidence and effort I’ve put into proving my story. Your study must be flawed!”

“Harrumph!”, muttered the second farmer. “He (the first farmer) knows his information is wrong, and since his son studied in your science department you’re probably doing him a favor to try and discredit both of our soil tests. Your tests are all lies.”

With regard to the human spirit; it is equally possible for our pride of ownership (of our view) to blind us from truth and reason. An emotional and material investment cannot change wrong to right.

Get High to Stop Getting High

Read this story in The Village Voice and make up your own mind.


Is Intelligent Design Supposed to Guarantee Perfection?

Jim Holt at the New York Times penned an opinion that rants about the imperfections of life (at least according to Jim Holt) and, like many with a disdain for what they do not understand, made certain to point his finger at who is to blame (at least according to Jim Holt). I gather from his ranting that he does not believe in "intelligent design" and resents others that differ with his belief.

I would agree the world appears to be an imperfect place, but within it's imperfection there also appears to be a lot of joy in life. The peacock is admired for its useless beauty, suffering has made life dear to us and teaches us lessons untold, and though I cannot surmise the reason the recurrent laryngeal nerve was created to be so long, I do know it has worked quite effectively. I have this image in my head of Jim running down the street grabbing people and shouting, "Don't you GET IT? It's all wrong! We're DOOMED! There is NO REASON FOR US TO KEEP GOING!"

OK. There is my imperfect opinion about Jim's imperfect rant.


How Fast Do We Jump to Start a Cause

Over at TalkLeft they have been following a story of a judge who is reported to have told a rape victim to, "get over it." Meanwhile, the Standard-Times in New Bedford, MA (home of the judge and victim) is running a parallel story stating that no such exchange took place and the judge had been quite compassionate. Eventually this business will works itself out... No help from outsiders thank you.

In recent weeks the blogging community has been reveling in it's own positive press as one great story after another was revealed through diligent citizen reporters via the blogsphere. And rightfully so. Mainstream media could stand to lose a peg or two. But I also think that bloggers need to temper their zeal to be immediate in bringing information to their readers.

This blog, The Catalyst, is only about looking for signs of change so I don't know if TalkLeft is right in their report, or the Standard-Times. What I do see is subtle hints that citizen reporters can fall victim to the very same impulses and influences that have plagued a portion of traditional media reporters. A passion to prove the worthiness of our cause should never replace our passion to allow for truth.

Follow-up on Life on Mars

This just in... NASA officially separates themselves from claims of "proof of life" on Mars. My thoughts for NASA; Thank you.


Science Can Rock Our World

Guardian Unlimited ran a column today on the human cost of bad science and singled out Rachel Carson's research on DDTs. What is worth noting about her research, how she reported the findings, and the subsequent sweeping changes that were made based on her findings is a case study in the complexity of hoping to know what changes may come.

I do not believe scientists in general have any desire for their discoveries to cause bad things to happen. In fact I believe the opposite. Scientists, like everyone else, are trying to do good things. What may not be evident to many scientists is the inherent authority they wield by simply knowing things the rest of us cannot even guess at. If enough scientists say 'it's true' the rest of us believe and act on that truth we've been told.

A recent example of this is the discovery of a specific gas on Mars that some scientists adamantly state is proof there is life there. Have they found life? No. Is this gas only possible as a result of life? Scientists don't know. Here on the planet earth it's produced by living things, so taking a giant leap, science would have us believe that life on Mars is proven. Well, no its not. What IS proven is that this specific gas is on Mars.

Believing something is true effects everyone forever after the truth is accepted. Scientists should spend some time contemplating their ability to effect so many for so long.


Thoughts on the Life We Lead

Joseph Cooper at Christian Science Monitor pens a great column that challenges our measurment of self-worth. To quote Joseph, "... Still, each of us, in our own way, carves out a bit of history that should be set down - for our own edification, and for each of our families and a few friends." His words are worth the read. (link)

The Planet Earth Now Hosting 6.5 Billion People

Numbers between 1 and about 100 million I can comprehend. 6.5 billion (as reported over at Science Blog) is a entirely new ballpark. Living in Southern California (home to 17 million people in a five county area) I have grown accustomed to knowing there are a lot of folks around and not nearly enough land to hold us all. But economies of scale to accommodate 6.5 billion seems staggering and impossible.

Though the earth has demonstrated it's capacity to provide it makes sense that one day there will not be any more of something. Of course there always been instances of 'not-enough', but for now those problems are due to poor distribution, political struggle, and indifference. It's just amazing to me with 6.5 billion people in the world that there are not already long lists of things that the earth has run out of that until now had been a staple in my life.


Further Evidence of Fear in a Shrinking World

Geek News Central reports that a national ID card may be just around the corner following the approval of the Real ID Act by the US House of Representatives.

As I have previously commented and evidenced, fear creates change. This is a good example of just such a case. The argument is that a national identification system will provide an additional layer of security and safety for our citizens with side effect benefits to immigration regulation.

What a stupid, stupid, costly idea. Which part of the ID system will be accurately measuring the mind and intent of the card holder? Being required to carry and show 'my papers' whenever required is simply one more intrusion with no hope of creating positive change... But it does have tremendous potential to foster more hate and suspicion.

Carrying a drivers license to prove I'm authorized to drive; this I can swallow. Carrying a card to prove that I belong here; No way! The assumption that carrying a card increases security is silly. Just imagining all of the different ways that the power of a national ID system could be extended by the Fed, states, regulators, politicians, business and we the people is even a greater cause for concern. NOTHING that big would be left intact and untouched.

Fear creates change. This proposed change scares me more than the evil we are trying to contain.

Seeking the Next Change Frontier

Guardian Unlimited released this interview piece that asked the question, 'Where will the next scientific revolution take us?"


Blogging Has Stopped Change

Over at Ripples this morning David St Lawrence wrote that blogging offers us a voice within our communities; a place to speak up, be heard, engage in conversation and form new relationships based on ideas and interest. I so much agree with David and while thinking about his words I wondered if blogging is creating change or stopping a change that was in progress.

I think blogging will stop a change in our social structure that has been going awry for centuries.

“Change” in society happens when we have to adjust our lives and our thinking to accommodate new truths whether we like or not. One of the changes that has been going on with increased velocity has been accepting our smaller and smaller individual footprint in the world we’ve come to know. The human drive for more-better-faster has brought the world to my doorstep and I will know the details of things in Siberia before hearing about what happened at a neighbors house two doors down.

When our communities were small and geography was still a physical information buffer our individual voice could be large. Now the din of voices is so great we have a hard time concentrating on the voice we can barely hear right in front of us.

The adjustment we’ve been making because of the din has been to become silent. We’ve been speaking up less and less anticipating we won’t be heard anyway. We were becoming mute observers.

Blogging is anti-change. We have a voice again. Like orators in an old-world city market we can stand on our box and say what we want to say. Sometimes the passerby will stop and listen, discuss your words, and maybe even join you in being heard. Most important though is our feeling of “self” that comes from believing we are heard.

Once again we are part of a community of a size and scope we can comprehend. Blogging rewards us for thinking and speaking; it has re-engaged us in building and growing; it allows us to feel big again.


Evolution and God

This column by Nicholas Kristof at the NewYork Times takes the position that DNA may predispose humans toward religious faith. I'm wondering... wouldn't it make perfect sense for God to design our DNA so that we are predisposed to Him?

Building a Psychic Machine

For some, the fear of not knowing what tomorrow will bring is stronger than their fear of what is. And now some of these folks want to build machines to predict the future. In the aftermath of catastrophic events it feels pretty normal to wring our hands and frustrate over why we didn't see "it" coming. But, unless you're seated to the right or left of God I cannot conceive how it is possible to predict what has not happened yet like it was a newsletter you could buy to read about tomorrow.

As for the scientists that have taken on this mission of prediction; I predict they will be publishing lengthy discourses in scientific journals explaining how close they are to a goal they will never reach.

Random thought here: If you can build a machine to predict the future so that something might be avoided, which future will the machine predict?


Change is Personal

I look for change on a big scale; the things that will have far-reaching effects on life it total. Today I read this article and was reminded of how huge change can be at a personal level for a person when their world does not include any of the rest of us.


From the Earliest of Times Depression has Haunted Society

Zack Lynch over at Brain Waves posted a report on the Cyberonics Neurodevice targeted at treating depression. Imagine that, implant a piece of electronics in just the right place and a disease that has haunted mankind since the dawn of time might be put out of business.

In the course of history, "depression" has had a long and destructive reign. Many great leaders and thinkers have been afflicted; either interrupted in mid-stride or just stone cold stopped in their tracks. AND, too many suffering from the disease have risen to places of authority or leadership where their disease did the talking creating havoc, anarchy, genocide and extinction. More importantly though, depression touches us directly by effecting those we love creating pain and sorrow that need not be.

In its most minor form I cannot imagine what is positive about the disease. It effects millions, shortens life, destroys relationships, jobs and homes, and is the most commonly shared affliction in all suicides.

In reference to the my last post... Creating new life forms could not possibly be as impactful as improving the form of the life we have.


Can We Create Life?

The article on the race to create life from non-life as reported by NewScientist creates more questions than answers starting with, "What?" The researchers that argue about such things have determined that the criteria for deciding if life is created is the ability of the "creation" to self-replicate and evolve independently.

I do not doubt the capacity of humankind to pursue, and maybe even succeed in such an endeavor, but from where I sit something about this just feels odd and uncomfortable.

One of the stars of this race is a company called ProtoLife. Their statement of purpose reads, 'ProtoLife will develop evolutionary chemistry with the long-range goal of creating artificial cells from nonliving raw material, and programming them with desired chemical functionality.'

If they accomplish their goal will they have created life or bio-based robots? The part of their mission that involves "creating artificial cells (life) from nonliving raw materials (non-life)" is eerie to contemplate.

I'm not sure what all of this means... but the impact would definitely be far from small.


The Birth of a Solar System

It may be a delivery that last more than a few hours... actually it will be millions of years before the delivery is complete, but scientists are pretty certain they've found a solar system in the making. Pretty cool stuff.

Progress with a Price?

Corporate society observer and pundit David St Lawrence shares his views and the thoughts of his readers about our ability to entrap ourselves in the name of "progress". In every revolution of human advancement we eventually overuse our discoveries to the point of revolt. The real change society reaps in any "revolution" comes when we discover our ability to retake control from the things we created to improve our world.


Biblical Copyright Holders

A question posted on "ask Yahoo" asks, "Is the Bible copyrighted?" There is just too much material in that one question!

It does beg this most obvious question. If I say something and someone else writes it down, do they now own my words? Better yet, if I say something and include in my statement that I want everyone to have free access to everything I've said, can someone else still wrestle control of my words away from me by being the first to print?

I would agree that being able to charge for the labor of printing, binding and distribution is a reasonable expectation. But to say that the words within the Bible can legally belong to someone other than the original author seems silly. I think transfer of ownership requires permission.

Some things never change. Mankinds propensity for wanting to say, "MINE!" is ageless and enduring.


Fear and How Far to the End

Change has its own energy within us. When we hear things we can't conceive often it leaves a little tic-tic of fear because, though we can't conceive of the idea, we must settle it within ourselves by imagining it in terms we can relate to. What? Let me explain.

Every time a scientist shouts that they have the answer to some question six others come up with something different, and the rest of us are left to try and relate to any of the answers they've arrived at. Often all of their answers feel like something we should fear.

For instance; How will the our universe end and how will that happen? Will it just keep going forever? Will it collapse? Will it bend over on itself and become something entirely different? Your guess is probably as good as the conjectures of science.

I can't even get my mind around the size of the universe let alone how it will age. I remember once concentrating on trying to conceive of a space with no edge. It never stops. It is not contained in any fashion and goes on forever (our universe). It made me dizzy! The human mind, of this time and of this place, understands that all things are contained no matter how large or small. Anything that bucks that reality... tic-tic...

The scientists talk of the end of the universe over a time span exceeding our ability to count. It's as far away as the edge of the universe (an edge that does not exist). But in the absence of numbers I can conceive, suddenly all things feel more eminent. "What? The universe is going to end? How do you know it's that far away? What if it's next year? Or maybe even next week?! Oh-my-GOSH!" (tic-tic)

These little tics caused by things we cannot conceive play a part in what we do and how we treat the people and the world around us. Some choose to live with greater abandon, while others will pull up the rug and bar the door. Most of us know that we cannot know what tomorrow will bring; the scientists are merely adding to the information we have to validate our certainty.


This is What Fear Looks Like

Will we use technology to invade our privacy or will we use technology to spread the fear of technology.


Does Humankind Have Choices?

I was reading the first few paragraphs of an article at New Scientist that makes the statement, "Psychologists and psychiatrists persist in treating us as if we were helpless victims of our biochemistry." The author even brought God into the argument (which I thought was a positive and open-minded approach). But it does get you to thinking....

Is there any social choice or defect of character that "science" has not shown to be totally out of our hands to control... and there's nothing we can do so except it and get over it!

That sort of thinking intimates that free-will is a non-factor. Free-will must be something someone dreamt up a long time ago to pacify a larger audience and it took hold. I could agree that each person is made up of a unique combination of DNA, cells, and so on. That means in all of us there are more of some things and less of others. Each combination contributes to how we deal with who we become. I do not think that "becoming" is an end destination but an ongoing process that ends only when we die.

In the history of mankind there have been billions of people who've overcome "defects of character", who've regained social acceptance through their own efforts, who are recovered addicts or have turned their life to entirely new directions.

I think some people are fortunate to have in themselves and in the people around them the tools to exercise their free-will to accomplish something wonderful. I also think others are less fortunate because they choose to use self-pity, self-persecution, narcassistic behaviors and manipulation as their tools to make everyone else change around them. That's not free-will, it's "my-will".


Two Things that Will Never Change...

It will never change #1: The insatiable desire of researchers to prove (yet again) that hamburgers are loaded with all of the bad things we should never eat.

It will never change #2: Hamburgers taste really, really good!


REAL ID Act (H.R. 418) - The World Changed and Some Folks are Afraid

Evidence of change can always be witnessed in the shared fears of a society. TalkLeft offers up discussion on US Representative James Sensenbrenner's (Rep/Wisconsin) bill to require a national ID system. I believe the bill is reflective of how the world is getting "smaller" and the village getting "larger".

Small is equal to the distance between me and every other person in the world. Between technology, media, curiosity, etc., the distance is pretty short. I am no longer dependent on someone else's story of what is over yonder, but can actually (virtually) be there.

Larger is equal to the number of people that are in my immediate vicinity (whether physically or virtually) that can influence me or other people around me. In the earlier times there were thousands and thousands of villages each containing a few hundred people. That was the only "world" they needed to concern themselves with. Today there are few villages each containing millions of people. That is a lot of change. Maybe more than humanly conceivable.

So people that fear villages getting even larger WILL propose ways to put up fences. In a small town way that seems to have so much appeal. For me (speaking only for my little piece of humankind) it feels degrading, controlling, and reinforcing of prejudicial thinking (they're not one of us).

Einstein: A Catalyst Appears When It's Time

Wired News released an article on Albert Einstein marking the 100th anniversary of the release of some of his most influential work. In the bigger picture Albert Einstein was a true catalyst of change. It could be argued that all things will be discovered by someone at some point and that Albert Einstein was merely a random bridge to between what we did not know and what we would eventually know.

I believe that there is nothing random about his place in the discovery cycle. There have been many a thinker and inventor that started as unknown and remained as such. Stories abound of inventors arguing that they "were first". And then there are those selected few intellectuals whose names become household words. Galileo, Newton, Bell, etc.

These people come forth with their discoveries at exactly the time these discoveries need to be made within the context of what mankind can conceptualize and accept. These discoveries become the fuel for other thinkers/inventors so that within a generation we are working to exhaust every new avenue created through these new understandings. It could not be by chance that every time, at the exact right time, a new genius is uncovered.


Artistry, Empathy, and Emotion are Hip Again!

Are we at the end of the "information age?" Writer Daniel Pink at Wired takes a look at how we are changing and why we are moving toward a new "age".


The World is Becoming Less Crowded?

Will we create our own means of extinction through social change? After reviewing several recent studies on population trends that is the view put forth by Pavel Kohout over at Tech Central Station.


2020 Hindsight

Thomas Freidman takes a crack at imagining what we might see in hindsight from the year 2020. If only we could know now what we will know then...


Sloppy Gene Control... That Explains a Lot!?

I've often wondered how I came to be the way I am... or better yet, what about that guy over there!? Phew! Are we changing for the better or the worse? According to some scientists our future is narrowing.

Through diligent work and with the help of a few thousand rats that volunteered to have their genes spliced, scientists have determined that if my ancestors had enjoyed a larger choice of mates I would now be far healthier. In their words, "They (researchers from the universities of Bath, Edinburgh and Sussex) believe that if our ancestors had benefited from the vast choice of mates available to other species such as mice and rats, there would have been fewer of the mutations in our DNA that can trigger illness."

I not sure if I am happy for all those healthy rats and mice, or saddened at my genetic propensity to illness... Maybe just a bit of each.


The "Gaming" Generation

Just a few days ago I commented that "an entire generation.../... has grown up using technology as a toy." My commentary correlated the waning of Internet Explorer as the browser of choice to a rise in the number of users that have been immersed in technology since birth.

Today I ran across this great article at the shifted librarian that includes this wonderful quote, " 'We've got an entire group of people under age 30 who grew up playing video games,' said Jim Gee, professor in the UW-Madison School of Education. 'It's completely changing the way people think about education and the workplace.'

It's Not Change Just Because Someone Said So...

Headline: Scientists Warn Of Global Dumbing

Sometimes even the "smart" folks say dumb things. The implication that the people of the world are getting dumber, like we've hit a tipping point of some kind, is dumbness in itself. My thought is that the people overall (that's me and you too) are not any dumber now than at any other time. What has changed is our ability to know the vastness of dumb. We used to only know one village idiot. Now we can witness the idiot's in every other village as well.


Johnny Carson: A Sad Reminder That Everything Changes

There are people that become part of the fabric of the world around us. For each of us the people and pattern is different, yet there are certain individuals a large number of us include in our fabric. These are people that touch us time and time again. They're always there and feel like part of what makes everything around us OK.

Johnny Carson passed away today. I grew up watching The Late Show. As a teen it marked the end of the day. I had to at least stay up long enough to see his opening monologue. In marriage it was a show we shared together in laughter. When Johnny left TV he left shoes that would not be filled.

To me there was something about him that seemed so real-life. I imagined he was a wonderful friend to those that knew him. I could watch him and imagine he'd be comforting to talk with; That he knew when to share, when to listen, when to laugh, when to help, and when to just be there.

When people like Johnny Carson pass away, at least for me, it takes a moment to put my world, and all the background of life back into order knowing that something is now gone and will not return. Everything is always changing. Some moments are a reminder.

Witnessing Change First-Hand

I came across this great commentary by Clay Sharky on the changes he's observing in the "software ecosystem." In his words:

"I teach at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), where the student population is about evenly divided between technologists who care about aesthetics and artists who aren't afraid of machines, which makes it a pretty good place to see the future. Part of the future I believe I'm seeing is a change in the software ecosystem which, for the moment, I'm calling situated software. This is software designed in and for a particular social situation or context."


Coming of Age: Why IE is Waning

The current buzz around the decline of Internet Explorer is a wonderful example of a larger change in society. It's the change that happens whenever "what we know" exceeds "what we're told". In this case the change is happening in technology; The catalyst is an immersed generation of technology users.

When I was introduced to computers (remember Ohio State-Compuserve and MAC 512?) there were almost no choices for what programs to use to accomplish any computing task. As a non-techie I simply loaded programs according to what Apple said would work and I was off and running. Though always growing, the population of people who actually understood what was happening "under-the hood" was pretty tiny... And getting paid by a small pool of companies that published the software. For most of us technology was a tool.

Now, an entire generation behind me has grown up using technology as a toy. Not "toy as in "ha-ha", but "toy" as in "I was just playing around and look what I did." They are not constrained by what they don't know. Technology is so familiar to this generation they won't allow companies to control their curiosity (and along the way rejuvinated the curiosity in the rest of us).

Their curiosity has driven battles over intellectual property, file sharing, open source vs. closed, net access, and on and on.

And their curiosity has led to knowledge... And we all know what knowledge leads to; Choice. Most of us started with Netscape because that is what "worked", then, most of us switched to Interent Explorer (let's not debate how THAT happened) because we believed it worked better.

Now there's a generation of users that knows enough to ask, "Why?" And when they don't like the answers, they come up with their own. They use technology to spread their answers; to ask new questions; and create new answers.

IE is losing market share because we've stopped being dependent on what we're told and are acting on what we know.


The Perfect Labor Storm

I recently started looking for a new job; It's time for a new challenge. And as an "older" worker (I'm not 50 yet but I can see the corner...) I need to consider the perceptions of decision makers when they interview an "experienced" worker. One of the jobs I was just passed over for informed me that I was "too set in my ways", which I interpreted as, "there is a right way, a wrong way, and our way." And I also heard that I may be to set in my ways. OK. I can accept most of that. Actually, what I believe about myself is that I've grown accustomed to thinking for myself and having an opinion about choices. I can live with that to.

While researching labor statistics I came across this little jewel on the changing workforce released by the folks at Success Performance Solutions. As a tail-end baby-boomer I interpret the declining workforce as a pain for employers and an opportunity for me.


Should Machines Make Emotion-Based Choices?

I seems like I am on a robotic roll here... but the news just falls in place. Emotive Alert, designed by Zeynep Inanoglu and Ron Caneel of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will analyze voice messages and label those that are urgent, happy, calm, etc., according to the caller's tone of voice to help people identify which messages are the most urgent.

Just a thought; When I am the most stressed my outward signals including voice and breathing calm significantly. Will a machine be able to adjust into this gray area of human variances or am I forced to "act" in order to gain priority? Second thought; This system implies that I am guided by what others determine my priorities should be. I hope if the system becomes commonplace I will be able to sort messages so that I hear the "happy" ones first.


Do You Want to Live Forever?

Aubrey de Grey is convinced that he has formulated the theoretical means by which human beings might live thousands of years—indefinitely, in fact. Perhaps theoretical is too small a word. De Grey has mapped out his proposed course in such detail that he believes it may be possible for his objective to be achieved within as short a period as 25 years. (Read more)

Our Intent is Noble::We Will Touch Generations

The TNIV (Today's New International Version) of the Bible arrives in stores in mid-February stuffed full of new words to replace "archaic" words. A committee of collaborating scholar's were tasked with making the scripture more understandable for modern readers. At least, that is what the publisher set out to accomplish.

It is true that words and connotations have changed over time. As I read my Bible I do have to pause sometimes over words and sentences that are hard to comprehend because of the way they're written or the words that are used. But it does seem misguided to believe that changing a few words inside a sentence will not change the original meaning and intent of the author.

It's my opinion (as a non-expert in language studies) that if the scholars want to change the bible to reflect modern language usage they would need to re-write entire passages so that the EXACT meaning is still retained. They would need to write fresh sentences as if the Word was being put to paper for the first time.

What they have accomplished in the TNIV is to mute God's voice in favor of their interpretation of His intent. If the TNIV was the only text available to teach from, would new Christian's know God as He intended? This sort of effort WILL effect many generations.


Through the Eyes of Children

How clearly change becomes visible when we listen to children as witnessed by Christine Hurt at Conglomerate.

When Will it Be Impolite Not to Greet a Robot

Robotics keeps ticking away in the background.... An entire sub-culture of technology brains are churning away at creating machines that become independent within their purpose. Of course, you can say we already interact with "robots" daily through machines that accomplish complex tasks with minimal human input. We've already written billions of lines of code to allow these machines to make choices.

Just as an aside, I am not a Ludite. I do however trust in the "nature of man" to build first, then adapt to the result. Put enough momentum behind any initiative and the nature of man is to be inclusive.

Remember Isaac Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics"?
  • A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  • A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
It was Asimov himself who coined the term, "robotics" while imagining the futures represented in his writings. I believe the coming explosion of robotics technology is a fantastic thing and also see how subtly it will change our world in really big ways. Then one day we're being lectured on the proper etiquette for the treatment of "Robo-citizen's".

Disaster & Change... Continued

Found this article on political change linked to disaster. I also liked the quote within the article that stated, "Some natural disasters are triggers for change; others are catalysts for change already under way."


Church ends taboo on mercy killings

Over time all things move to the center... including opinions and moral choices. I'll use "killing" for my example. The Bible specifically states that "killing" is a sin. Period. Then there are those among us who believe they should have the "right" to decide the fate of another life. This is not a discussion of capital punishment or war, but of all other instances. Now the Vatican, bowing to the pressures of mankind, has determined that the Bible's edict needs adjustment.

When we as a society decide to alter what is black and white to fit within what we think will be pleasing to others we are compromising our society's ability to sustain itself. The long term effect of this particular choice? At some point it will be "reasonable" for someone else to determine if your "life" is worth living.


20 Years of Usenet

Speaking of hindsight and being able to watch change as the script unfolded... Google has fully integrated the past 20 years of Usenet archives into Google Groups, which now offers access to more than 800 million messages dating back to 1981 including this classic from 1981, the TCP/IP Digest #1.


100 things we didn't know this time last year

I love lists! This one is soooo interesting just because hindsight is always a great topic. If we had only known....

A More Conservative America

In peace it's easy to lean liberal. In times of war our domestic population becomes infiltrated with returning veterans. The result: A more conservative generation with regard to family, politics, career choices, etc. As a veteran (Vietnam) myself I can relate to seeing and feeling the difference between who I was as I entered the Marines, and who I was when it was over. Veterans of war (my opinion) prefer more control and certainty in their civilian life as opposed to the chaos and uncertainty of the combat environment. This generation will produce trackable shifts in the Republican/Democratic balance.


The '04 Tsunami Effect

What is a "Catalyst Moment?"

Over a billion people have been directly and traumatically effected by the post-Christmas Tsunami of 2004. Beyond the "right now" is a billion people that will live in a decidedly different way. They will think and feel differently. They'll work differently. They'll love differently. They will treat their world and our world differently. They're already shifting economies and politics, mobilized a globe, and turned talkers into doers.