Wednesday, December 29, 2004

"Hey ASIA: Smoke Signal Tsunami's!"

Yikes. Poor Asia. What a mess.

Not-so incidentally, the Bush Administration has pledged $35 million in relief, or:

The U.S. has spent an average of $9.5 million every hour on the war and occupation of Iraq. With a current price tag of $147 billion, the U.S. has spent an average of about $228 million a day in Iraq. In other words, the U.S. spends what it promised on the tsunami relief effort in less than four hours in Iraq.

Analysis courtesy of the good people at, thanks for putting things in perspectives we need to hear.

But this blog ain't about baggin' Bush in the prairie oysters, it's about why the hell in an age of sports-scores on cellphones, we have no system to warn villagers of pending natural disasters? Especially 4 hours after we know about them?

Well courtesy of my throwback-amigo, Padrone, a throwback-idea that costs less than a throwback-jersey: smoke signals.

They've been used for millenia to signal something's up, first helping primitive man find people he could hang-out with, kill, or eat, and later getting downright Nokia-esque. So why not today?

Quite simply, have your local Jackie or Johnny Meteorology grab pick-up trucks full of old tires, drive them towards a couple of separate hills (e.g. East/West or North/South of the city) or the old mill, and set up a 2-signal system with surrounding villages:

1) TSUNAMI!!! (etc.) Run to the city!!!
2) NUKES!!! (etc.) Run away from the city!!!

Let villagers know the deal in advance, and hope a few remember and collectively yell the same thing upon seeing the signal to convince the others. Once we know something crazy is happening - and usually once a year tropical paradise gets bitten with the disaster bug, jus' pour out a lil' liquor for 100,000 dead homiez, and let flames pierce the sky.

My consigliori and I brainstormed a little conversational aikido, and came up with:

WHO: People with a conscience.
WHAT: Any simple signaling for illiterates, or, smoke signals.
WHEN: Now. Even if unused it's cheap insurance.
WHERE: Any city yelling "RUN!" to surrounding villages.
WHY: Saving a good chunk of people who will listen.
HOW: Build a low-maintenance relationship with the villages.

With all the self-serving whining about the cost of connecting every wretched soul with a Blackberry, countries need to keep corporations from fighting for government tenders that guarantee cost-overruns and delays for dubious results, and go back to basics. It could take decades before every village is equipped with modern communications: it's time for an old-school solution.

This may need refining outside of blogworld, but all the gut-instinct arguments we've heard have answers, including:

"This can't save everyone."

Well of course not.

But for the rest, we've got a shot.

Monday, December 27, 2004

A Moving Picture Is Worth A Thousand Blogs

My Dad is a cool old-school retired cat, who wakes up obscenely early for a daily routine guaranteeing God and good-health, and he seems to stand in good-stead with both. He also reads the newspaper, watches the news, and reads news magazines to supplement his regular diet of current events. Like most of the educated and well-read he's generally well-informed, but also because of this and the generation gap, he thinks the internet is the fancy of few and full of crap.

I tried to explain to him that besides tonnes of crap, there are mainstream organizations with the same corporate hierarchy, values and credibility as his preferred mediums, plus smaller organizations and individuals who's credibility you have to judge based on the quality of what they're saying.

He said bah.

I showed him the article about John Kerry (planning on) re-entering the recount fray in Ohio, a challenge he currently sees as a neglible conspiracy theory (maybe because he doesn't see it anywhere), and I hoped that would add some credibility to the fact that there's both evidence and means for individuals to pursue it.

He said meh.

In order to explain, I quickly found the following information:


222,165,659 out of 325,246,100 Americans are online, or 68.3% of the population.

590,765,933 out of 6,064,901,387 people in the rest of the world are online, or 9.7%

812,931,592 out of 6,390,147,487 people in the world in total are online, or 12.7%

So, if there's a way out of this cynical darkness of half-knowledge and malnourishing soundbites, this baby's our ticket. Without the internet, where can we see for ourselves primary source evidence of what's true and false? Where can we *quickly* double-check or further research stories of interest? Where can ordinary people reach a mass audience with only truth as their agenda? Where else can the nearly 70% of Americans online in the media-blackout see their recount battle is going surprisingly well? Or happening at all? (It's a nice complement to the medias orange-in cheerleading of the Ukraine...)


A 6-minute video of a technician from Triad Systems (nice name!) admitting that he and others rigged the voting in Ohio. Basically a deputy director of elections called him out in a legal affidavit, and he decided to confess to a documentary film crew. Looking dapper in geek-going-to-a-wedding chic, the video shows him speaking sincerely, humbly and mumbly of his company-sanctioned crime.

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) of Fahrenheit 9/11 fame ("Sit down my son, we don't read most of the bills...") even wrote (the) Triad based on it, saying:

I have just reviewed a tape prepared by the documentarian Lynda Byrket of the hearing held by the Hocking County Board of Elections on December 20, and based on that tape I have more questions and concerns than ever about the conduct of your firm in connection with the Ohio presidential election and recount. In particular, I am concerned that your company has operated - either intentionally or negligently - in a manner which will thwart the recount law in Ohio by preventing validly cast ballots in the presidential election from being counted.

You have done this by preparing "cheat sheets" providing county election officials with information such that they would more easily be able to ignore valid ballots that were thrown out by the machines during the initial count.

And finally, Pa Dukes in all his bemused benevolence granted the young-teenage-punk-internet some old-school street-cred. They may even start hanging out more often.

The end.

The beginning...


A video of tanks showing up to a protest on the streets of L.A., which ironically didn't play for a minute - forcing me to look at relatively uncompelling photos and text, until finally the blessed/cursed moving picture arrived, showing proof of crazy people turning La-La-Land into a low-carb Tiananmen Square...