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148 posts tagged pov

some of my ideas: DC

[The links, with the exception of centrist party posts due to recency, are mostly bookmarks for myself (and for the time stamp).  I’ve pulled most of the relevant information and put it here.]

The newest (or oldest — have been thinking about it for a long time) is the formation of a centrist party, as I’ve tumblred about here, here, here, and here.

re: my last post on Path101 + DC:  legislation to incentivize more directed giving - tax breaks for helping out in sectors that they (corporations) helped wreck - minor tax break for helping out, major tax break for correcting bad behaviour.

Some other ideas I’ve shared via tumblr:


Simple things like putting links into bills on the floor or in committee so citizens can get a better idea of what they are reading.

Undo for-profit prison structure.  Make use of the restorative justice model.

Get more women involved in governance.  Here and around the world:  “If more women were involved in running nation-states, would the machismo of saving face still cost lives, time, and energy?”

Resurrect / redefine civil service.  Put the unemployed to work in their neighborhoods, use the infrastructure already in place, Habitat for Humanity, local charitable orgs, build homes, mend fences, plant gardens, beautify, take some lonely seniors out for walks, whatever it takes.  There may be no jobs but there are things to do.

Use the data to help people build jobs.  Chief Information Officer:  This position is not about tech, it’s about data:  where to find it, how to mine it.  With enough machine-farmed, human-interpreted data, and a smidge of creativity, the .govs might actually be able to perform wonders.  I would love to get my hands on the demographic data behind the unemployment stats, start building micro-industries out of the skill sets observed to serve targeted niches, answering need and providing stimulus.  People on welfare:  polling for skill sets, again, help people find their happy place, and create neighborhoods where that can happen, things like localizing, things like HelloHealth and the return of the neighborhood clinic

Re-define ROI.  Money is not just some abstract thing.  At the furthest extreme from the wages we hew out of time with our bodies, we are abstracted ourselves; we are faceless stakeholders, shareholders, statistics, a parcel of our time & our tears mingled in one vast pool of funds totalling billions, leveraged to eke more blood & guts out of someone else’s misery or joy or any number of places in between.

Redistribution of wealth:  No, don’t run away screaming you fiscal conservatives, it’s an exercise in logic.  Let’s start with first principles:  the foundation of a well-governed society is a well-educated populace, ergo its children.  No pre-k, elementary, junior high, and/or high school should be without.  Where does the money come from?  Well, who’s got it?  Who can afford to ‘give’ it away?  Let’s make it a transparent “tax”, give people (people here includes corporations) a chance to offer it up as a sort of “tithe” to the state & civil society.  This works almost locally with inner city schools but there are rurals schools facing similar shortages, wealth being concentrated in key geographic areas … The fed gov should provide channels and analysis of the data… i.e. where corps are getting their money from.  If so and so made millions because many people in certain locales bought, manufactured, lost jobs to outsourcing, etc., so and so’s state taxes get distributed accordingly.  Algorithms should help people on the hill decide where the money goes…

Send police to pre-K / kindergartner training.  Everything a person needs to know about handling people peacably, they learn when they learn how to work with a group of young kids.  Those who can’t handle it, well, we don’t want people like that walking around with guns.


Find better ways to wage war.  Here and in places like Afghanistan, elsewhere in the Middle East, anywhere where people are murdering each other in the name of religion, greed, & the state:  less guns, more words; benign but viral infiltration; searching for weak links in the psychology of the fundalmentalist believer / tribal warlord and exploiting them; in-depth psycho-affective analysis of villages & tribes; playing on simple human dynamics. (With this caveat.)

Work to “culturize" military forces on the ground.  Though we might say we aren’t there (Afghanistan) to wage war but to wage peace and to put hard questions to an extremist way of life which promulgates the repression of half its population, the language used by some in relation to the mission smacks wholly of imperialism and is, frankly, stomach-turning.  In these types of conflicts, language and rhetoric are weapons as effective as any smart-bomb in the arsenal.  We misuse it to our misfortune.  Wars of culture are never won through force of arms; we see it again and again as expansionistic nation states fall apart and centuries old conflicts re-emerge as micro-cultures struggle for hegemony.

On torture / enemy combatants in war on terror:  Create a holding facility in New Mexico, give members of the Muslim-American community an opportunity to speak to these stray sheep.  Those that don’t respond to this are the sociopaths.  There are specialists to deal with that.  There are many ways to the truth.

State Dept

Africa (& other places):  Create an org to provide consultations to resource-rich democracy- & infrastructure-poor nations specifically geared toward the promotion of a better governmental/business model, i.e. promulgating the idea that an educated citizenry is the only way to compete in today’s technological world, it really is better to be loved than feared.

A bit on the fun & silly side:

Presidential candidate simulator tests:  Wouldn’t it be great if we could put candidates into a giant simulator which held a number of scenarios, i.e. major natural disasters, serious international incidents like nuclear launch out of the Middle East, severe economic crises, extreme shortages, and of course the Kobayashi Maru, and push various buttons and watch and score their reactions, reaction times, likely outcomes, etc. etc.

Fantasy government:  Build a cabinet, randomize the legislature and judicial branches based on current events, solve a set of problems.  Gov could use winning scenarios (i.e. good ideas) as basis for change.


note:  I realize some of these things are beyond fed gov jurisdiction but perhaps not beyond influence.

note2:  Some of these ideas are old, i.e. from 2008 and 2009, hence the link/time stamp.

note3:  These are notes, not a platform.



Lawrence Lessig outlines why money + politics ≠ democracy for his Change Congress group back in 2008. After searching for news and opinions in the wake of the Citizens United v. FEC decision, I’ve found that this speaks to me more than anything else. (I love Lessig’s presentation style, so I’m already predisposed to like this.)

Like I’ve said in the past, Lessig is one of my heroes. Solve the first problem before you can solve anything else. And that first problem is money buying votes in our legislative branch of government. Our legislative branch is supposed to represent the people of our country. When that fails, and the people lose trust in Congress, power shifts to the Executive and Judicial branches, which don’t by nature reflect the interests of the people. And when money from the few controls the interests of the many, democracy fails.

First, I agree wholehearted re: campaign finance laws.  Reform is critical.

I almost disagree re: first problem tho’.  The first problem is binary grouping, i.e. two party system (moderates in either party stuck with extremists on either end).  But, part of party loyalty is safety in numbers, a part of which equates to support during campaigns.  While GOP/Dems aren’t special interests as defined by Lessig, certainly SIs push one party or the other depending on the issue…

It almost seems like the campaign financing issue is a node or root on this particular decision tree (fixing things in DC), not quite under the binary issue but tangled up with it in interesting ways.

Which leads me to think that it’s not just c.f. or two-party systems, it’s democracy itself.  Can we truly say we live in a democracy when less than 65% of eligible voters participate?  & This is for presidential election data only.  The number is less for the Senate (from the recent MA vote: 15% of 18 - 29 year olds, 57% of 30 and older).

Next question:  Why?  Who knows for sure.  My guesses:  apathy, cynicism, lack of information.  Campaign finance reform may help alleviate the former two, but it leaves us with a question.  Will campaign finance reform help get people in office who are willing to buck their parties to get things done?

I’m just not comfortable with taking that as a given.  Hence my interest in shaking up the two-party paradigm.

CONCLUSION:  These issues go hand in hand.  CF reform will help centrist party candidates to get elected and will encourage people currently in office to make the switch.

Centrists unite!

A more carefully thought out addendum to my enthusiastic reblog of Marco’s response to Thomas Friedman.


Yes, one of my pie-in-the-sky dreams is to create / help create a third (major) political party, a party which reaches beyond ideological divides to address all of the issues which binary systems of thought can neither efficiently nor effectively solve.

But how?

We’ve come to believe that influence (read monetary) is the only lever that makes things happen (or not happen) in DC.  I tell you that this is the biggest lie we’ve swallowed to date.  It’s the lie that kills our civic engagement, the lie that leads us to believe we are powerless because we cannot compete with ‘big business’.

[The irony in this is heartbreaking.  Where does their money come from?  Out of our own pockets. We thrash against the bars of our metaphorical prison, yet with the fruits of our own labor, we help forge the chains of our own entrapment again and again.]

In the arena of politics / governance (more so in the Senate/House than in the presidency), power still belongs to the people.  We have the ability to remove people from office with the simple press of the button, touch on a screen, pull of a lever.  (Think of all the places in the world whose systems of election are riddled and enfeebled by fraud / corruption — receive a measure of hope from the fact that we are still running clean.)

There has never been a time more ripe for change than now.  Some of us believed that change had come.  But how could that be when all we did in actuality was choose one entrenched institution over another?  Though it may seem the direction I am taking, the answer is not the Green Party; the answer is unity along the center.

If Barack were the visionary for whom we had hoped, for whom we had waited, he would have begun his term in office with a call for unity.  Before even mentioning healthcare (post-inauguration) he would have smoothed the path for such change by reaching out to conservative legislators and citizens, by finding common ground and moving from there.  Every successful entrepreneur knows that it’s not just the idea, it’s the implementation.

Despite all of the disappointment and dissatisfaction, I argue that the best is yet to come and that it is within our power to see it happen.

Again how?

Empower the people by giving them choices than can feel good about.  Give them a choice they can truly believe in, a choice they can trust, and they will vote.

On Reading Captain Underpants his Miranda warnings



It looks like the underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, more commonly known as Captain Underpants, (which means some of us will need a new secret identity), was questioned for a number of hours and provided valuable information. After he was belatedly read his Miranda rights, stopped talking.

It’s a little backwards to first question Capt. Underpants without Miranda warnings then read him the warnings five hours later. Apparently there is an exception to the Miranda warnings for an effort to end an immediate threat to public safety. But, once they determined that there were no other bombs, the Constitution requires a suspect be read Miranda warnings.

Does anybody think this was mishandled (in either direction)?

An excellent question, and I don’t know the right answer. Can’t claim to know the right answer. It makes sense to me that you’d want to interrogate a suspect sans Miranda if there are potentially imminent threats out there. I’m also partial to the idea that this guy — Captain Underpants — is an enemy combatant and not a common criminal.

I agree re: status as enemy combatant.  After reading the article, my main concern is the lack of coordination/communication between the FBI and the military.  Combating terrorism is, at its most basic, fighting a war with no discernable fronts; there should be clear interdepartmental guidelines for handling situations such as this.


Russian Ice Skaters Impersonate Aboriginals, Win Gold » Sociological Images

Next stop, the Olympics

It’s one thing to have a figure skating routine influenced by aboriginal dance. It’s something else entirely to engage in the sort of cultural appropriation that verges on parody. And this routine is on the wrong side of it.

But why? Is it the fake leaves? The not-quite-blackface leotard? Or is it the indelicacy of it all? Is the problem with the concept or with the execution?

Without having watched the darn thing (& with no desire to watch it after reading), I say execution & indelicacy.  If they had worked with the people/culture from whom this routine was lifted, it probably would have been something sublime and spectacular and genuine with the potential to create positive relationships between two peoples/cultures.

From linked article:

Sol Bellear, of the New South Wales state Aboriginal Land Council, said: “It’s been absolutely stolen without our permission and without consultation of the relevant dance groups within Aboriginal Australia.”

I only hope and pray that the judges at the Olympics recognize the fakery and score it appropriately.


“In the American military, few missions are considered more important than rescuing missing or kidnapped troops. So it’s more than a little odd that U.S. forces in Iraq have decided to outsource that operation to a private company. The military’s Joint Contracting Command-Iraq/Afghanistan on Sunday handed out a one year, $11.3 million, no-bid contract to Blackbird Technologies Inc., declaring that the firm was “the only contractor that can currently provide the subject matter expertise needed” for personnel rescue operations.”— Military Outsources Rescue Ops, Secret Tagging Tech (Updated) | Danger Room |

This is insane.

It’s not great for morale, yes, somewhat akin to the military admitting it can’t take care of its own.  However, Blackbird seems to have the tech & personnel to perform the intelligence work more efficiently. + It’s a great way to leverage existing talent to get the job done (think ROI).

…any legislative moves with this Democratic party and this Republican party are close to hopeless. The Democrats are a clapped out, gut-free lobbyist machine. The Republicans are insane. The system is therefore paralyzed beyond repair.

Andrew Sullivan (via azspot, dalasverdugo) (via marco)

Two questions: How is this any different than it has ever been? What do you propose we do?

(via mikehudack)

Create a centrist party.  Lock out the extremes at either end.

“The state of American politics is horrendous and embarrassing at this point”  — hilarysiegel

When has this ever not been the case? (via mikehudack)

233 years ago.  Altho’ I’m sure there were people back then who felt the same.

Roughly a year out from the midterm elections of 2010, more registered voters say they would cast a ballot for a Democratic candidate (47%) than a Republican (42%). However, the GOP has a large advantage over the Democrats in another important pre-election indicator: enthusiasm. Among voters who plan to vote for a Republican, 58% are very enthusiastic about voting, including 56% of independents who plan to vote GOP. Among voters who plan to vote Democratic just 42% are very enthusiastic about casting their vote, and only a third of independents who plan to vote for a Democrat are very enthusiastic. Also, while less than half of Democrats (49%) are very enthusiastic about supporting the party line, six-in-ten Republicans (59%) are very enthusiastic about supporting the GOP next fall. Read more

If the Dems were smart, they’d be reaching out to those unethusiastic inds & reps.

If I were smart, I’d figure out a way to leverage dissatisfaction in both parties to create a new centrist party.

[edit] Actually, it’s less about smarts (which I have) and more about time, resources, and pure gumption. Right now I’m trying to figure out what matters to me the most, the social enterprise for which I have the most passion.

But now that we’re in, we can’t leave without something more tangible to show for our efforts than a “safe and secure environment,” or even a zero American body count. The best goals are still the original ones: to remove the current de facto government; to dismantle the repressive police and military apparatus that served it; and to construct a new, democratic constabulary force under the leadership of elected civilian authority. This doesn’t have to be a never-ending task of “nation-building,” as our military fears. It is basically what we did in Panama and Grenada after taking out their dictators. The work didn’t last forever, and though not exactly a moral revolution for those countries, the missions weren’t failures, either

Commander In Chief | The New Republic

Written in 1994 about Clinton’s intervention (“Operation Uphold Democracy”) in Haiti. Makes one think about Iraq.  (via mikehudack)

It does.  It also begs the question of a better way / more efficient paths to the same end & how a person / peoples might go about building an app for it.

[edit] It also makes me wonder if we had done the job right, there’d be less casualties today.




This interview with an anonymous (alleged) Facebook employee is both totally shocking, and not at all shocking.

one more reason to be annoyed with facebook.  why it bugs me in the first place: death of privacy to meet (somewhat) inane ends.

[clarification] conscious of my more sensitive friends, i set none of my actions (i.e. likes, wall posts, etc.) to publish.  with the new “privacy” settings, everything i do is now public.  the demolition of these boundaries is highly disturbing.

Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.

Daniel Burnham, Chicago Architect (1846-1912) via Daring Fireball (via mikehudack)

Nice quote (& general sentiment) but I think it will be our daughters and granddaughters who are going to do things that will stagger us.  If there is one thing the world has neither seen nor experienced, it is women reaching their full potential (i.e. full parity).






“For every 100 copies of a physical book we sell, where we have the Kindle edition, we will sell 48 copies of the Kindle edition. It won’t be too long before we’re selling more electronic books than we are physical books.”

Jeff Bezos (via marco) (via peterwknox) (via mikehudack)

Not until the Kindle drops in price, that is.

While I don’t mind reading books on a screen, I do very much enjoy browsing bookstores.  No digital experience will ever compare to that.

I am also doubtful that any digital experience will ever compare to looking at one’s bookshelf and getting a very visceral sense of the _being_, the blood & sweat & tears, contained within the pages there.

Also, a very crucial part of human development happens in the ‘analog’ world.  The ability to turn pages develops / requires fine motor skills.  There are very few things more amazing and precious to me than watching a toddler learn to turn pages in a book (not the thick, boarded kind) — the tiny fingers grasping at the edges and corners then pressing away extraneous pages, the sweep of the little hand down the paper and over…  It’s awesome.

In general, I’m okay with digitization but only if we pay attention to and understand what we are giving up or throwing away.  (Not that it will happen soon, but the way some tech moguls talk, we’ll be burning/shredding books in five years).

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