Monday, October 15, 2012

Blog Action Day: The Power of We


com·mu·ni·ty [kuh-myoo-ni-tee]
noun, plural com·mu·ni·ties.
  1. a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.
  2. a locality inhabited by such a group.
  3. a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually preceded by the ): the business community; the community of scholars.
I have been a part of the Twitter community for almost 3 years.
I have been a part of the Linux community for over 20 years.
I have been a part of the Heavy Metal community for almost 35 years.
I have been a part of the Steeler Nation for, well, my whole life (thanks, Dad, I love you).
And, if you are reading this, you know we are a part of the Internet community.

But how can a bunch of people sitting alone behind their computers or with heads buried in their phone be a community? More significantly, how can this disconnected, disparate group be a community that can have a positive effect on the world? Anyone who has been online for more than three minutes has likely experienced Godwin's Law. How do you get people who can't agree on the definition of the word "the[1]" to come together and make a real, positive change in the world?

Kickstarter and Indiegogo

You have probably heard of them. They are known as crowdsourcing sites and are famous for funding things like Amanda Palmer's new album and the OUYA video game console.

However, they can just as easily be used to fund projects[2] that support causes from the environment to medicine to education. These sites give "ordinary people" the power to impact the world in a tremendous way. Imagine supporting education in Tanzania or helping cancer survivors. The options are limitless.

This is how WE can have the POWER to make a better world. Or at least make the world better for someone.

[1] This is an exaggeration for effect, though I wouldn't be surprised if this did happen somewhere online.
[2] Indiegogo's Community category, for example.

#PowerOfWe #BAD12 #BlogActionDay

Thursday, October 11, 2012

On the Subject of Politics and Idiots

They say one should never discuss politics or religion. "They" are right. It seems these two topics immediately cause the loss of all sanity and rationality, turning otherwise reasonable people into ranting, blithering idiots. Right now there is less than a month until the US presidential elections and the idiocy is reaching a fevered pitch. The stupidity is not limited to one side or the other. Examples abound on the left and the right.

Example the 1st – "Arkansas politician's comments on slavery, Muslims stir controversy"
Example the 2nd – "Mark Hamill: Mitt Romney Is A 'Snake Oil Salesman' Who 'Must Be Defeated'"

The incredible audacity of these utterly asinine comments by the Arkansas politicians and Mr. Hamill is beyond comprehension. At least beyond the comprehension of anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together. The English language lacks the words strong enough to describe how completely moronic these people are.

I could rant about this for days, posting example after example, but the effort needed to think about this idiocy is extremely wearing. I will point out that there is one place where one can get fairly non-partisan, well researched information on the two presidential candidates. PolitiFact has independently fact-checked statements from the first presidential debate as well as the recent vice presidential debate. In addition, they have checked a plethora of other statements from both sides of the aisle. Though I honestly doubt that most people would believe what they would see on there. Just as they wouldn't believe the second coming if it happened right in front of them.

But that's an irrational discussion for another day.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Debating the Debate

"Democracy means government by the uneducated, while aristocracy means government by the badly educated." - G. K. Chesterton, English author & mystery novelist (1874 - 1936)

I watched the presidential debate last night. Well, I watched the first half-hour then left it on in the background while enjoying the frothing, fuming fanatics on Twitter for the rest of it. A large portion of the people I follow are in the IT and/or Science industries. Most of them are, shall we say, "strong" backers of the Democratic party. It was fun watching them go on and on about how bad Mitt Romney was doing and how president Obama was killing it. At least that was their position during the debate. If you've heard or seen anything remotely resembling the news in the last 24 hours you'll know that this is not the consensus that the political world arrived at. Personally, I found it to be a case of two elitists arguing over vague statements and mostly incorrect information (See: Fact-checking the Denver presidential debate).

For a long time I have felt that the differences between the two parties in the US are all superficial. There are no fundamental differences between them when you strip away the rhetoric and proselytized self-aggrandizing. They both want only power and money at the expense of the other party. The country and its citizens are only useful for achieving this goal. Some people think that Romney and the Republicans are evil and will destroy the US. Others think Obama and the Democrats are evil and are already destroying the US. Want to know a secret?

They are both right!

Thankfully, the Founding Fathers setup a governmental system that can weather these trials and tribulations. Many people are fond of claiming that this is the worst political infighting and attacking that the country has ever seen. But the fact it, this is barely a spit in the ocean compared to Boss Tweed/Tammany Hall, Teapot Dome and the time that one party attempted to outlaw and imprison every member of the other party. And there have been plenty more over the last 236 years. Yet, the nation and its people are still going. A friend of mine once described the government and political system of the US as being "Perfectly Broken."

Seems to me he nailed it 100%.