Saturday, December 26, 2009

In case you missed it...

Nick Dupree doesn't have a regular Wikipedia entry, just the "User" version. However his blog and in particular his YouTube version pretty much says it all.

I post this because it makes me imagine what would happen to our comparatively minor inconveniences with life if Nick were the "complaint manager" for the world. You've been having trouble finding a parking place so you walk into his office and he asks "what's your problem?" and in an instant his "no worries, mate" response fills you right up.

How we have checked our humanity at the door is, I must admit, troubling.

Love.

Friday, December 25, 2009

putting the "X" back in Xmas

There are a lots worse things to be than alone on Christmas day in Madrid.

I hear the fishing is great in Iraq, so for any servicepersons who enjoy angling...

So I'm listening to Louis Armstrong ca 1938 singing "I've Got the World on a String" and realizing that he was probably as high as I am as I look through the window at the no-off-days Chinese guy's store across calle de Seco and wonder why, as my "landlord" says we can't just celebrate every day as intensely as we do Christmas. I think maybe we are more in the joy of Xmas, the day when we realize just how absurd it is to be other than optimistic/Utopian as the days inexorably lengthen and the prospects are certainly rosier than they are dire.

We've all been on Bro. Dylan's Desolation Row at times but there's no profit in the actual blues - only the musical kind!

I am always surprised when I learn that somebody besides me reads these rants but in case anyone is "Mary Xmas" and let's look forward to many more.

Love.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More on hyperlink bullet-proofing

I have now "repaired" two link failures that required me to go to the Wayback Machine's archives. Whatever I did could have been automated in a routine of reasonable doability. The only human mind power I used was to select which archived piece was the one I intended and I simply chose the earliest. It could have been the one closest to the date I posted the link or...

This might put a burden on the Wayback Machine but I think it can handle it, if not there's lots of free storage space for such things.

In doing this I realized that I had bypassed the linked-to site's subsequent "forbidden" order and I wonder if I could use it to, e.g. get New York Times archives without subscribing to the NYT?

Love.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Language Barrier

I get more perspective on human language as I'm staying afloat in a Sea of Spanish. I point to something at the charcuterie and read the little sign stuck into what looks like a smoked pork chop and gesture as to how thick to cut it and become addicted to chuletas Sajonias (chops, Saxon style) or the same meat without bone as filetes sajonias. Before long I'm getting slices of chorizo and other marvels.

Then I go to the pescador counter and prawns are called langostinos and mussels are mejillos and the tuna for my sashimi is atun, which he slices from a huge slab. The carniceria is less interesting because I still make a pretense at vegetgarianism.

The produce section has a really dazzling array of mostly familiar items, but of marvelous quality. A bag of Clementina tangerines keeps me busy for a couple of days.

The hashish is outstanding, the people are super-friendly and the women startlingly beautiful. I don't know how I missed knowing about Madrid all these years but I'm sure glad we found each other.

Love.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rights - What Rights?

NYT: "On Dec. 10, 1948, the U.N. General Assembly adopted its Universal Declaration on Human Rights."

Subsequently the U.N. issued a "convention" which elaborated on the application of said "rights" to People With Disabilities. I hope it's not sixty years before we begin to take steps to demand those rights - above states' rights - for all humans.

As we march and shout in Spain "Derechos Humanos Ya!"

If you wondered what you would have done had you been a German in the 1930s when they took the crips and Gypsies away to test the gas chambers, now you can find out through self-examination. If you're into "I'm not a Gypsy so I don't care that they are all being murdered" then please stand aside so I can carry my sign and perhaps even bring legal action at an international level.

Love.

Monday, December 7, 2009

More DUH!

From a spam notice: "Now you can talk and drive without using your hands."

No info on how the Bluetooth drives for you.

I am struck by how late to the dance are legislators, etc. who pretend that they are just finding out that distraction is the danger, not just using one's hands or eyes.

Particularly with aging I notice that just distractive thought is dangerous as are tuning the radio, looking at your passenger, and a host of other activities, but what we are getting are rules against texting and in some cases using the cellphone while at the wheel.

They have in some places forbade putting a TV where the driver might watch, but the GPS has eased this ban on visual distraction, although one could use the navigator in voice-only mode, but it doesn't work all that well.

Just as we made progress with seat belts and drinking/driving we will have to address distraction per se. The SKI Study on elder vision includes: "aging significantly reduces the effective visual field under conditions of divided attention (white circles, red line), and coarse stereopsis (depth perception) is also greatly impaired." and "Older persons self-restrict their driving based on several aspects of their vision, but not on the basis of deficits on attentional fields (measuring divided attention performance — one of the most important correlates of accidents). Testing and education is therefore needed."

And all Department of Motor Vehicle testing agencies still use the primitive visual acuity charts that are actually pretty useless.

Love.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Favorite App

For many years I've used a program called TuneIt! to tune musical instruments I build. It is also a lot of fun to use for ear training, voice control, etc. If you try it you will learn a lot about intonation with voice/whistling/instrument.

He will guide you to a free download for thirty days' trial. Even if you're not a musician it's nice to see the harmonic analysis of your voice, etc. parade across the screen.

Love.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Protesteth 2 Much?

On this day (NYT): "On Nov. 15, 1969, a quarter of a million protesters staged a peaceful demonstration in Washington, D.C., against the Vietnam War."

While we protested the troops continued killing and dying for three more years.

In the current spate of U.S.-sanctioned murder-for-hire the actions in Iraq and Afghanistan have essentially no human rights' enhancement excuse.

And after a while the futility of protest saps such activity, possibly because the invaders' losses are "only" a few thousand, although the "collateral damage" in Middle Easterners' lives is orders of magnitude higher.

Now the airplanes torching the area are unmanned, flown by computer gamers near Las Vegas and the ground level massacre is usually muted with most attention to the loss of U.S. troops to truck and suicide bombs.

The Freedom Fighters cum Insurgents have no "in memoriam" tributes on our TVs but the Americans (mostly quite young) are paid off with a few seconds of mourning by sad-voiced anchors.

Even electing a candidate promising to bring the troops home couldn't stop the warlords from continuing to bristle patriotically and continue to protect people in Wichita from potential terrorist attacks. Please tell the mothers of the kids struck by fragments of cluster bombs that in war "shit happens" and it's all for the best.

Love.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Goodbye to Goldendale

It is really strange/moving to be uprooting and relocating.

It's something I have done rather often dating back to my escape from "The South" in 1942 as I had all my worldly goods (except my beloved Lionel electric train) in one big trunk (which got lost by the railroad company) on my way to Boston by way of New York City.

This time is just as adventurous/risky because I will arrive in Madrid on Wednesday with no known place to sleep that night, although I'm pretty sure it will be OK and not require finding room at the inn.

I was just invited to give the welcoming keynote at the Web4All conference next year in Raleigh and all of this is becoming part of that talk. The years since the WWW conference in Santa Clara (WWW6 - 1997) at which the Web Accessibility Initiative was kicked off have been largely flooded with almost magical experiences and the flight to Spain seems a fitting companion to all the relationships I've formed since.

This will likely be the last sermon written in Goldendale and I may never return here but it has been an incredible time during which I learned to be "old".

As I am fond of saying "if I felt any better, they'd put me in jail".

Love.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bah

On Sept. 15, 1963, four black girls were killed when a bomb went off during Sunday services at a Baptist church in Birmingham, Alabama, in the deadliest act of the civil rights era.

On June 12, 1963 Medgar Evers was murdered.

On June 21, 1964 Cheney, Goodman, and Schwerner were murdered.

Where were we?

I'm still not "reconciled" to these events and feel much like I do in other personal periods of grief. I cannot forget and probably will never forgive so I just avoid going to that part of the country, even though it has changed some. In fact, because I feel that I am living in a "rogue nation", I am moving to Spain as soon as possible.

Love.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A different 9/11

An earlier tragedy on September 11 still tears me up.

I wonder if some future "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" concerning American captors at Guantanamo will reveal some awful events that now are swept up in Bro. Cheney's "waterboarding isn't torture" assertions. I wonder if he will say, like his South African counterpart Jimmy Kruger, who in a speech touching on Steve Biko's murder that it "left him cold"?

Love.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Who's Human?

As I examined the failures of the U.S. Constitution's being amended with an "Equal Rights Amendment" (ERA) I realized that "piecemeal" elaborations of Human Rights via legislation like those passed to end discrimination for various diversities ("race"/ethnicity/gender/"disability") might be better served by a "Human Rights Amendment" (HRA).

The ERA was successfully opposed by women's groups.

The possibility of a HRA is problematic because we are torn by at least two distinct definitions of "human": Until it can breathe and pulse on its own, a fetus is just an elaborate part of a woman's body and survives with her permission; As soon as it is conceived, the fetus has all the protections of law that all humans enjoy.

Although we might find some solace in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, it is clear  that "United Nations" was organized by and for the continuing dominance over humans by nation-states. However it does sidestep defining who's human. I wonder if it could be adopted today?

Love.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

ERA - at last!

In a statement for Labor Day release several prominent officials will issue a proclamation calling for immediate ratification of the long-dormant Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which provides for women to compensation equal to that of men in all occupations. Among the signatories are:

First Lady Michelle Obama: "I will now be able to tell my daughters that they will not be forced into economic second-class citizenship.

Former Governor Sarah Palin: "I urge all governors to join in this bi-partisan effort to secure this long-overdue Amendment"

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton: "This finally secures the full rights of women promised by the 19th Amendment which gave us the right to vote. "

Economic Adviser Lawrence Summers: "I take this opportunity to lay to rest charges of mysogyny levelled against me as I fully support the Equal Rights Amendment."

This effort to amend the constitution has fallen short of the required ratification by the states but times have changed and several commentators have lauded it as an important boost for the economy and for U.S. reputation as a leader in the field of human rights.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

protectionism

The current delay between the availability of essentially telephoning, particularly on mobile phones reminds of the absurd protectionist tactics used by the dairy industry in the 1930s and 1940s. In order to have yellow oleomargarine, you had to use a packet of yellow dye and knead it into the product.

The contention by industry spokespersons was that if they allowed yellow margarine from its maker, there would be some arcane health issue. They would never admit that they were obstructing yellow margarine because its price would nearly wreck their business.

Now the "carriers" are clinging for dear life to the absurdly expensive phone calls and putting obstacles to VOIP wherever possible. We all know that the same "networks" that send all this stuff around are used for all communications traffic and that the phone companies are as doomed as were the butterlords.

Meanwhile, we go through this silly phase of disinformation ("VOIP doesn't sound as good") and pretension. Could we please get over all this and get on with using OUR networks however we want?

Love.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fin de Junio

Looks like I'll get through June OK.

All's right in the world of Futbol: no player on the U.S. side would qualify to even sit on the Brasil bench and when in the second half of the game the one-on-one skills of the Brazilians was made evident and it was revealed that we were no longer watching a "contest", but an "exhibition" it was clear that Americans better focus on something at which we excel, like self-delusion.

Codeine stops the cough and Dr. Time is working on the underlying infection so that my swine/avian flu is terminating itself rather than its host - me.

I'm still abuzz about "inventing" tone dialing as a means of communication. It's been so well-developed for so long that I had become oblivious to it as a solution to indexing the monster database we can now carry in our pocket. Now, to the I/O solution - the handkerchief that becomes one's display and the glove that accepts input streams without the annoyance of speaking. Where is "conviviall dingo's" foldup device now that we need it?

Love.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

eternal parade

One guy says "old age is like being punished for a crime you didn't commit." I think it's the best thing that ever happened to me. Most of it is like a really long movie with only "impossible" events intervening in a mainly predictable/boring plot.

In Madrid there are a lot of benches, at least in the blocks around here and most of those downtown and all Plazas. I sit on a lot of them and watch the endless parade that has lots of my favorites, babies in strollers, rolling by powered by proud parents/grandparents/siblings. 

Eye contact is something we have instincts but not much discussion about and between adults the contacts seldom last over two seconds. Babies can lock on to you for as long as they can see you, going to great measures to twist as they pass. If their pushers stop to window shop, you get to play a lot of peek-a-boo with them. Rarely will a baby fret/cry on seeing this old guy staring with a big smile. They will blink with you and laugh if you stick out your tongue, etc.

Love.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Universidad


The old geezer surrounded by Javier, Alejandro and their Personal Assistants. In the background are partying students.

Love.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lawn Order

From today's NYT:

"On May 20, 1961, a white mob attacked a busload of "Freedom Riders" in Montgomery, Ala., prompting the federal government to send in United States marshals to restore order."

It's interesting that things were excessively "orderly" before the Freedom Rides started. The African-Americans "knew their place" and all was right with the honky world. 

I wonder if an ADAPT action could evoke such responses, either by the bigots, who are mostly non-violent in their opposition to accessibility for PWD, or by the enforcers of ADA who to date have done little except pay lip service to DRM issues?

When will the environment (and the Web for that matter) become fully accessible to everyone/everything/everywhere always?

Love.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Madrid, my love

On MY Plaza Mayor yesterday there were hundreds of stamp/coin displayers, presumably hawking their wares to the assembled philatelists/numismatists.

I don't practice (or even really understand) collection as one's favorite undertaking, but although I have no place for philately I revel in the appurtenances of philatelism - these folks share a real passion for finding a stamp missing from their collections and spend hours poring through well worn volumes of carefully catalogued bits of colored paper, many of which have already been used for postage.

There's just something that warms my heart about people who will dress up in traditional Madrid garb and march by the hundreds to my Plaza to commune with one another and let the world know "we are here".

Love.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Quality of Life/Death

Much is written about "quality of life", e.g. as a prerequisite for having available the myriad of life support systems and personal assistance we ALL require to survive.

Certain so-called ethicists assume responsibility for deciding which members of our multi-diverse species is allowed to be furnished these systems from the resources of the commons.

When we attend any gathering most of us need (or at least want) to have seating available.

Venues for conferences, dining, meetings of all sorts henceforth are assumed to have, as an inherent part of their equipage various forms of chairs/stools.

This is considered as a "right" - an entitlement for simply being human.

To those of us using wheel chairs, the furnishing of such items could well be thought of as "special accommodation" because, after all, we bring our own chairs - why should we be paying from the commons for millions of chairs used by those who don't bring their own?

Often we think of those with "crippling diseases" as pitiable objects without entitlements.

A diagnosis of polio instantly puts one into a world that is often feared ("if I couldn't run any more I'd rather be dead").

Then there's FDR who actually successfully hid the fact that he was almost always in a wheel chair else his "quality of life" would have been judged sub-par, but in fact he had one of the great "qualities of life" lives ever!

He also achieved a remarkable near-sainthood which is a "quality of death" even though he may not have gotten to experience that part.

Just like FDR, we are all "entitled" and being kept alive (as we all are by others) is a foremost entitltement.

The next time you hear someone complain about the enormous cost of keeping me alive (already hundreds of thousands of dollars just in the last few years), tell them how such efforts take almost none of the resources of our commons and it was better that "me and FDR" got "special accommodation".

Love.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Three Generations

3 Generations
3 generations of "science"

Professor Pepe, innovator Vint and the Old Geezer at celebration honoring Vint's investiture with honorary doctorate.

As I globetrotted on Crusade MMIX, I looked like some kind of spirit-person floating about various venues, voicing optimism.

Trying to generate a "Council of Elders" is hard work, but somebody's got to do it.

Love.

Monday, May 4, 2009

mining

One of the main frustrations I'm experiencing during travel planning is the inability to have access to the same data that I could get if I went, e.g. to the ticket window in Amsterdam's Central Station. I feel sure that if I walked up to the ticket help window and asked for the fare on a train from Amsterdam to Madrid, they could/would (?) simply look it up. But I can't do that on the Web. 

Instead I get a message advising me to buy a eurail pass.

This, coupled with the insane pricing structure under which I am forced to buy a round-trip ticket on the airline because it's about a third of the price of a one-way ticket has me questioning just how effective is our access to these systems.

It reminds me of a situation many years ago when the wholesale price of just about anything was a closely guarded secret - presumably for fear that if a retail customer knew what it was she would be very dissatisfied with the profit system.

Love.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Government through socialware

I work on a group that helps edit documents intended to enhance the rather Utopian goals held for the Web. Recently we've been wrestling with a huge, largely unreadable document about "eGovernment" being generated to help streamline the relationships between governments and between a government and citizens.

As I read it, I am struck by how dense it is, as in "opaque". Hundreds of syllables where only a few are actually needed.

The FaceBook/Blog/Wiki world has exploded and has reasonably clear directions so that interactions amongst like-minded people are fairly simple to understand but for some reason our governing bodies still insist on ignoring "transparency" while claiming to champion it.

I think I'll just veg out for a while and see if it changes! Maybe I'll have them put ads over on the right of this blog and see if that makes me rich.

Nah, I hate advertising.

Love.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

crusade

Decompression/Retrospective

A somewhat truncated Crusade MMIX is complete - back to home and (virtual) hearth.

The overall verdict is that it was a triumph of sorts. I got to meet Vint Cerf and briefly outline the plan for a "Council of Elders", probably in connection with the Web Foundation. Also more chatter with Sir Tim and lots of collaboration with Daniel and the quite marvelous Emmanuelle Guttierez.

The first triumph was with Arthur Jampolsky, whose 80th birthday celebration was very moving and exciting. To see him with a hundred or so ophthalmologists who pretty much revere him was like being allowed backstage at an epic performance of some kind. He and his wife Peggy and all the many colleagues from Smith-Kettlewell left me with the strong realization that I was a warmly-embraced member of a huge effective family.

Thence to Madrid (via Dublin!) where the aforesaid lovely Emmanuelle greeted me at the airport. I felt like visiting nobility, what with fruit/flowers in the rather luxurious hotel surroundings and Rob Yonaitis serving on the welcoming committee. The W4A sessions were encouraging in that there are now buckets of people working to make Web Accessibility a commonplace of the Web. There are Web designers and groups dedicated to reaching the "everyone/everything/everywhere/always connected" goal in our time and the implications of a myriad of "kabals" designed to bring us all together are quite inspirational.

emmanuelle, me, chaals

On the afternoon of the second day, Emmanuelle and I went to the Polytechnic Universidad where Tim and Vint were honored with doctorates and much attendant pomp and costume (funny hats).

me, emmanuelle, vint cerf

After that, it got dicier because I didn't realize that the "Brussels" airport my flight went to was an hour's drive from the city and without an interpreter and being exhausted by schlepping bags about the Madrid airport, I simply got in a cab and before the ride to the hotel was over had spent over 200 Euros for a 3 euro bus ride that I didn't ferret out. This left me unable to continue the Crusade after the Brussels meeting which was heady in that I was surrounded by people whose job it is to further Web penetration/inclusion. Everywhere I was surrounded by people who were in the business of funding efforts like mine.

Two days in Amsterdam finished off the trip (and almost finished off the Old Geezer!), but the final leg was interesting in that I left Amsterdam at 10:20 AM and arrived in Portland at 11:50 the same day! Watched several movies and suddenly we were landing!

I don't know what all I actually accomplished, but I think it was a lot - only time will tell.

Love.
 

Friday, April 17, 2009

Morning After

Last night's celebration was an epic with hundreds of Arthur's family/friends/colleagues celebrating a remarkable 90 year history.

This afternoon I fly to Madrid (several hour layover in Dublin) to attend a conference at which I will be by a lot the oldest person. It was very nice to be at one where at least a dozen people have been around longer than I have.

Now it's time to re-engage a different set of folks and I will take part in this morning's teleconference wherein we solve the riddle of how to get government to move from a ruler/subject point of view to a wholly interactive/transparent one.

Everyone/everything/everywhere/always connected is looming large now and I'm really looking forward to being part of it happening.

Love.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spectacular Start

The Crusade got off well with a flight during which I finished reading Clarice Lispector's "The Hour of the Star" and BARTed to The City where I met the son of John Brent (whose mayoral candidacy I managed around 1971) and cut up an incredible array of old touches. He got to hear some Brent/Committee reminiscences and I got to encourage him and his beautiful wife with the old "find your heart's desire and go straight to it - do not pass GO - do not collect $200" riff.

Dined with Kent Sokoloff, the original backer of Talking Signs in its first incarnation: Love Electornics. His twins were among my first urrogate grandchildren. Max is a genius film-maker and Amelia an incipient musical theater star.

Kent is a business consultant whose current client is Chevron and they are a perfect target for a major embracing of the Semantic Web.

Now the extreme clarity of sky is revealing one of the great sunrises because my motel window faces East.

I must get dark pants (I've still got a decent suit coat and shirt/tie) for tonight's celebration of "birthday boy" Arthur Jampolsky's 90th. And I will get to the Tadich Grill for the 11 AM opening so I can have real Hangtown Fry!

Love.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Dotage

Thursday night I get to join in celebrating Dr. Arthur Jampolsky's 90th birthday.

He has been friend/mentor for 46 years and he, like me is likely more active/effective than at any time in his life.

Physically, we are both clearly deteriorating in many ways, but we are educted by the process at least as much as we are diminished therefrom.

The propaganda about how the last months of life are sapping the resources of the health care system and placing undue burdens on those who are not yet "retired" ignore our continuing growth and contributions. The notion of old people sitting in rocking chairs and fishing from the river bank are myths/legends and unrelated to what actually happens.

For the 80 years of vivid memories/learning I've been around, there aren't a whole lot of people who fit the stereotypical view of old-old people. It would be a great mistake to accept the resignation of some to the notion that our usefulness deteriorates along with our vision/hearing/balance/mobility.

And at the other end of the age spectrum, we do pretty much the same as we pretend that infants are more sink than source. I learn a lot from younger people - all the way to toddlers.

We are all in this together and I'm as excited to be going to important meetings in Spain/Belgium/Netherlands/France/UK as I've ever been and what I learn (and hopefully teach) will be vectors for the kind of changes that will make us better.

Love.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Enough Already!

It's been 55 years since the "marijuana broadcast" that featured "Four crusading marijuana smokers light up and have a KPFA panel discussion about the virtues of pot."

The main voice on the tape is that of Ted May, who gave the rant thereon at every opportunity and wasn't hesitant about coming out of the closet. The theme song "They Can't Take That Away From Me" was played by legendary guitarist David "Buck" Wheat and a couple of others played support for Ted's views.

I was in the control room, not wanting to have my voice spotted (I had a weekly jazz program on KPFA at the time), along with another Sausalito houseboat denizen Gerd Stern who was on the KPFA staff as well.


Although there had been numerous expressions of that point of view, this one caused a furor in the S.F. Bay Area because of the next day being a slow news day. So it actually made headlines in the Examiner.


I'd sure like to hear it again.



Love.

Distributed Diaspora

As the Right to Communicate becomes the most significant/widespread of Human Rights, the groupings of spheres of interest will disperse widely.

While at present many (most?) Social Network affairs (FaceBook et al) base groupings, at least in part on geography, the urge to be nearer those of like mind, rather than like appearance/culture/history, will be a prevalent reason to migrate.

Expatriation won't be based so much on disenchantment with nation-state issues as commonality of purpose in some way centered on the need for actual rather than just virtual contact.

The "mystery" associated with various superstitions like religion will play less of a part in locale choices. We will form "kabals of konvenience" to best utilize our passions/purposes and make interconnection with others more efficient.

As I prepare to embark on Crusade MMIX, it gets obvious that despite having been essentially a recluse for quite some time, I have hundreds of reasonably close acquaintance, most of whose proximity I really enjoy.

Love.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Anniversary Waltz

62 years ago today, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to sign a major league contract.

For me, that was as big a victory as Jesse Owens' wins in the 1936 Olympics or Obama's election.

The line right after "we've come a long way, baby" is "but we've still got a long way to go. The Supreme Court has taken on a complex case involving racial discrimination based on a fire departments' decision not to promote a white firefighter who passed a written test that none of the black firefighters did.

In a different context Chief Justice Roberts said “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

Time flies when you're having fun.

Love.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

One gross of years

On April 9, 1865, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his army to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia.

It's been 144 years and is closer to, but far from over. The recent presidential election illustrated certain electoral anomalies indicative of a continued reluctance of many in the "Bible Belt" to embrace Christianity while proclaiming their devotion thereto.

One of my favorite songs is "It's the Same Old South" as sung by Jimmy Rushing with the Count Basie Band. The general theme is

It's the same old South.
It's a regular chilren's heaven -
Where they don't go to work till they're seven
It's the same old South.
and
Where the bloodhounds that once chased Elizah
Chase the poor C I O organizer
+
With their old fashioned get-togethers
Colonel, pass me the tar and the feathers.

I still love it and still subscribe to its premise, but with hope for further moves down the road to change that has already had much effect.

Love.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

zohoacc

zoho Accessibility

Web-based Word Processor


geezer at work


Perhaps I'm just not meant to use a Word Processor but should just stick to writing everything in HTML?

If I save this document as a Word file, will Open Office handle it gracefully?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Blackness of mood

I can't get over that this is the 41st anniversary of Dr. King's assassination.

He was three years younger than me.

At the time I thought "the world will go down in a flame, what a shame" - from the song "Please Send Me Someone to Love".

His last call was for a Basic Income Guarantee and it is still thwarted by those sharing his religious beliefs.

Oh, well.

Love.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Moderately doppelgangered?

At the risk of falling into the "all African-Americans look alike" absurdity:





That's Greg Oden.
He "belongs" to the Portland Trail Blazers.








That's Dred Scott.
The Supreme Court ruled that he could not sue for his emancipation because he was "property".





Love.

Astrology

I once met a man in Midway, TX who shared my birthday (3 January, 1926) and we had little else in common that I could find.

Since then I have had a quite mild fascination with the impact of one's "when" because of living through the same eras.

So far as I can determine, there are only two "other notables" sharing that anniversary: Werner Michael Blumenthal, who was Secretary of Treasury in the Carter administration and is now director of the Jewish Museum in Berlin; Sir George Martin, the "Fifth Beatle" and prominent record producer.

I bet they're not looking to contact me to cut up old touches, but I would enjoy meeting and conversing with them.

Love.

Nicko Time

This "Old Fool" doesn't mess with April.

Now the planning for Crusade MMIX is entering its final stages. I have bought tickets to San Francisco and Madrid and am unable to dream of Brussels for which I have no images. The logistics will leave me skipping Portugal this time, which is a shame, but I expect to strengthen bonds with non-Paris France and that old friend The 'Dam.

The Crusade might shape up to include a major Action in Our Nation's Capital, but I've been so joy-struck that I will probably just come home and work on expounding.

I still can't reliably account for the recent spate of Sermons, but it felt good to broadcast broadsides and just revel in being.

This is sort of like the beginning of a new era so I will make a New Year's Resolution, perhaps following through on heavy thumb-typing practice so I can follow my initiation into Wireless World with a littering of Twittering?

Love.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bye Bye Barack

At a recent "Town Hall" event it was noted that a question that ranked high among those asked by the online audience was ""With over 1 out of 30 Americans controlled by the penal system, why not legalize, control, and tax marijuana to change the failed war on drugs into a money making, money saving boost to the economy? Do we really need that many victimless criminals?"

In a video he ignored the real thrust of the question and proceeded to act like a right-wing demagogue by playing the whole thing as a joke - and because of the nature of the in-person audience got the cheap laugh.

The question was serious, not to be flipped off by ancient religious superstitions that demean the importance of getting high. He, for God's sake, smokes cigarettes, and likely imbibes caffeine and perhaps the ethanol he thinks is going to provide relief from imported oil. But then those things have all been kept mostly legal and the Calvinists, etc. have managed to put our magic herb on a proscribed list, as if it were a poison - like tobacco/caffeine/alcohol.

Marijuana is the #1 Cash Crop in California! To pretend that it's not an important key to helping stimulate the economy (the taxes could be as punitive as those on cigarettes and yield billions in revenue) - after all it can be grown for pennies and sells for lots o' bux. And for whatever absurd political reason, he chose to break our hearts with demagoguery.

Shame on him.

Love.

Make Love, Not War

Our illustrious president said something to the effect that "the key to Peace is War in Afghanistan"!!!

Yet another victory for Orwellian newspeak.

From the history of France in "French Indo-China" and our own quagmire-testing there in Vietnam we didn't learn that military adventures and imperialistic designs were particularly problematic when our supply lines must cross oceans. The Soviet Union didn't have nearly so far to send their awesome weaponry, but a bevy of tribes in a fairly desolate land not only thwarted their being ruled from afar, but actually played a major part in the destruction of the original "evil empire".

I guess it should be a possible consolation that we could dissipate all of our renewed stock of good will and a generation of young Americans and Afghanis and perhaps create, almost as a side effect, a genuine revolutions: change we can believe in?

Maybe we can also resurrect the Shah and really get loco?

Love.

But What Can I Do?

One of the most frequent questions asked of people proposing various Utopian schemes designed to "improve the world" is usually preceded by "I completely agree with your proposed solution to humanity's problems..."

The questioners display impatience with the enormity of the task of achieving some lofty goal like World Peace or Universal Health Care or a Basic Income Guarantee (my current favorite). The most frequent response is to "keep on keeping on" and hope/expect Dr. Time to be an ally.

Because I've reached "dotage" it's clear that, at the very most we are vectors pointing to said aspirations - the idea of a "turning point" or some historically vital landmark (usually a pariah) is pretty vain. Tim's book is almost self-deprecating in a field replete with "fathers of the Web Age" who claim primacy, be they Ted Nelson or Doug Engelbart or Gates/Wozniak and now Wales.

Each took part but so did we all either leading, following or staying pretty much out of the way.

But how about Ghandi or Dr. King or perhaps Jackie Robinson? Weren't they true differnce-makers? Yes, in a way and they had certain aspects in common that may lead to an answer to the Sermon's theme: although they talked extensively, they also walked with a certain affrontery towards the institutions they sought to change. Trouble is they all died before their goals really were attained.

So, I guess that in general the answer is, as usual, to think globally and act locally, i.e. seize command of what you can reach. You too can be the mayor of Podunk and maybe shake so much that the ensuing rain of shed water will float us towards "The Promised Land"! Worth a try.

Love.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Relief from Palinism

As a sort of latter-day Dan Quayle, Sara Palin furnished already-formed comic bits too numerous to catalogue. Maureen Dowd remarked that Ms. Palin was welcome to satirical columnists as well as a bevy of late-night talk show hosts and, of course The Daily Show's Jon Stewart.

Tina Fey of Saturday Night Live now has an instantly recognizable guffaw-getter and the Republican Party has been essentially destroyed by the pimping of this incredibly, near unbelievable emergence on an already absurd political canvas.

I was manager/director of San Francisco's improvisational theater, The Committtee, a largely political satire undertaking, in the '60s. We evolved from Chicago's Second City company, which in turn was a turnout of the UK's The Establishment, and ultimately the form called Comedia del'Arte; and the usual suspects in the field.

Saturday Night Live was spawned by, among other influences, our brand of irreverence, quite appropriate for the UCBerkeley Free Speech Movement and all the familiar "Summer of Love" activities.

All this to refer to the question we always got: "How will you get material to mock when ____ (fill in the blank with Nixon/Johnson/Bush) is no longer available for you to kick around?" Well, there's always Geithner/Bernanek/Frank - an endless array
of easy targets.

But there was something special about Gov. Palin: she's a fox and even a MILF. When Jon Stewart first opened up on her he kissed the side of her picture in a lewd way and the audience "got it" - no matter what she ultimately stood for, she is "hot"

Her running dog, Ann Coulter is also in that category to some extent but she is so mean that it doesn't really pose any problem for "the left", she's just another nut case, but Sara is in another realm. If she had any brains, she would be seen as a Gracie Allen caricature of herself and that's what Tina Fey revealed so
brilliantly.

After the debacle of the election (if we factor out the racist votes, it would have been an epic landslide) she kept on working to wreck what was left of her party. My problem is that on the way, she made the unforgivable act of using her baby as an electoral ploy, much as Jerry Lewis and MDA have routinely done with "poster children".

Following the debate with Biden she had "it" placed on her shoulder as she did what looked like "burping" it - possibly to show that in addition to being a heartbeat away from a position of great power, she was a loving mother, although she didn't
go all the way and start breast-feeding on live TV.

While she and McCain were attempting to ridicule the calling of "Community Organizer" and making "eloquence" a pejorative (as they had long since done with "liberal"), all of them, Obama included completely missed how absurd the term "special needs", and how counter-productive to inclusion is its use.

The legacy of Sara Palin is that she appears to nurture her "special needs" child while, in her role as governor has prevented IDEA's furtherance in her state. This unmitigated hypocrisy is beyond deplorable - all the way to full-blown prostitution, using a baby to further ideas that have no basis in reason.

Love.

History may be repeat

As I do research into my ancestry I am often struck dumb by matters of genocide or other things that are very disturbing.

My grandfather commanded a contingent of "colored regulars" who were at various times in the forefront of the Spanish-American War in Cuba and the Philippines, as well as being the famed "Buffalo Soldiers" of the Indian Wars.

His oldest son, my father was a founding member of what has become one of the biggest insurance companies in the world, USAA. At an early meeting of the group of officers who organized the company it was almost casually remarked that (paraphrased) "If it hadn't been for Lieutenant Loughborough's skill with the machine gun, most of us wouldn't be alive."

My grandfather died before I was born and my father passed when I was 4, so I have almost no personal recollection of him, but throughout my childhood I was constantly told what a wonderful man he was.

The patriarch of the Loughboroughs was my great-grandfather, Nathan who served as an official in John Adams' government and whose plantation included what is now Georgetown in the District of Columbia. I think he and his son were Confederate Citizens, whatever that meant. It's quite likely that they owned slaves.

I have to say that these findings are disturbing, but of course out of my control.

I hope that the Filippinos don't hold me responsible for my forebears traveling thousands of miles to commit genocide, but I can see how they might in view of the fact that our nation is doing quite similar things today. We elect a president to end the warring and he increases the troop level in Afghanistan.

We march in protest and rail against the destruction of our economy by our continuing funding of military adventures all over the world under the pretext of defending ourselves! But reform of the Defense Budget is piecemeal and totally inadequate to the necessary task of dismantling the Military-Industrial Complex.

We don't need cluster bombs, spent Uranium-tipped shells and armor, or hydrogen bombs to protect us from terrorists. The hypersonic airplanes are an incredible burden to bear when we have 20% of our people without health care provision and still far too many going hungry or being without shelter.

My pathetic efforts to solve all this by enabling "Everyone/Everything/Everywhere/Always Connected" seems quixotic in view of the bloodlust that pervades our foreign policies.

Any useful ideas, anyone?

Love.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Us Popes are a diverse lot

The closest I came to a Pope was Vasken I who was the chief prelate of the Armenian Catholic Church, but he was called "Catolicos" instead of "Pope".

The Dalai Lama has a certain "popeness" about him, but not the title.

So as far as I know it's just me and some guy in the Vatican who are actually called "Pope".

It would be nice if we could all confer from time to time so that Bro. Benedict might try to convince me (and me him) about such issues as the sanctification of holocaust-deniers and the scientific nature of condom use to stop the spread of AIDS.

But then his organization didn't acknowledge that Galileo (or was it Copernicus?) was actually onto something until the 1990s after a few absurdist centuries of the sort of denials that plagued thought - and still do.

So this here Pope says to spread condoms/truth/peace not the so-called moral alternatives. We don't need all those millions of dead babies just because some pretender to truth flaunts reality in deference to a superstition not dissimilar to "step on a crack, break your mother's back." I had to (at first gingerly) step on cracks and then check that my mother wasn't yet paraplegic before I realized that I had been led astray by my peers. I didn't worry about "step on a line and twist your daddy's spine" because he was already dead by the time I heard about that particular danger. I'd bet that it's also just the same kind of superstitious balderdash that "The Pope" (they still haven't noted that because of my ascendancy to that title, he is actually "A Pope" now) espouses.

I'm just saying...

Love.

Ain't gonna study war no more

This is the 36th anniversary of the last American troops evacuating Vietnam.

I hope it's not that long until such an anniversary concerning "our boys in Afghanistan (and Iraq, and...)" come home.

I was one of those boys in the Phillipines in 1946 (World War II), as was my father in around 1916 (Phillipine "Insurrection"), and my grandfather around 1900 (Spanish-American War). And I don't think there's a "makewar" gene in the family tree.

War, what is it good for: absolutely nothing.

The just-elected administration, chosen in part because of opposition to war upped the commitement to continue/expand the war on Afghanistan for no discernible purpose. We should instead abolish the War Department (euphemistically renamed the "Department of Defense") and start a Secretariat for Peace.

Why not?

Love.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Three who changed the world

The interesting thing about the trio in today's sermon is that at the level of win/lose, they all actually lost!

There are certain epic points in our history that revolve around the "Rule of Law" as a paradigm for sane governance. Possibly the most famous was the Dred Scott Decision wherein the august judges ruled that this man was not a person and could not use the courts to gain his freedom.

Although not at the same level of significance, today's subjects reveal similar total absurdities in the workings of "justice" - or at least justices.

The first was John Thomson, who energized the rather academic "Free Speech Movement" featuring Mario Savio at UCBerkeley in 1965. He wandered onto the campus (he was not a student) carrying a sign that had one "illegal" word on it: "FUCK". By the time the media mavens had finished, the chancellor of the UC system had resigned, the faculty was divided 'twixt satirists and absurdists and the Sixties as we remember them were in full throat. Thomson, and later several students (who read aloud from "Lady Chatterly's Lover") were arrested for something like public indecency.

The next was Dan O'Neill a satirical cartoonist who, with several others came to be known by the name of "Air Pirates", the comic book using Mickey Mouse as pretty much a figure to be ridiculed, while being admired. Disney was not amused and although it never got to the Supreme Court, Dan finally settled and promised to be good. But the precedent was a blow to parody/satire that has been a rallying point for such efforts since. A recent South Park episode has the mouse beating up the Jonas Brothers and blatant "Disney Presents" messages. Apparently their lawyers feel they're on firmer ground than Dan's felt they were.

The last is sort of in the same vein and elicited full-blown nonsense from the Supremes. 18-year-old Joseph Frederick unveiled a banner at a parade (off-campus) reading "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" and the Supreme Court struck down the First Amendment in some really tortured "logic".

Ultimately those who lost (not, so far the last one) actually prevailed and the culture has changed so you can say "fuck" in a movie or live performance (though it still gets bleeped on TV as George Carlin spins in his grave), and poking fun at a mouse won't get you jail time.

It's a good thing I got to be around for some of these vindications, in fact I feel that my standing as a prophet has been enhanced. However, women still don't have the protection of the Equal Rights Amendment, though we have come a long way, baby!

Love.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

CSUN's Greatest Hits

"Curran and Teh" could be a firm of solicitors or perhaps a comedy team. Instead they are the brilliance that illuminates the Open Source - Free Software culture.

They've created a software program that makes it possible for blind guys like them to have their own screen reader without needing it obtained for a bunch of bucks or through the bureaucracy of Rehab Agents.

The dominant screen reader is JAWS and it costs several hundred dollars - more than the computers it runs on! Its vendor has made a decent product but it's out of reach for lots of blind folks.

Although MicroSoft might be able to simply include such a thing in their operating system's application suite, they would be seen as the "evil empire" stamping out the little company that serves the blind community. And EMac Speak is operable almost exclusively by Geeks who use Linux.

The young programmers are way thin, almost anorexic looking, but extremely articulate and poised. They were the center of attention throughout the conference and their product (NVDA) was extremely well received.

It was a pleasure to talk with them. I am the better for having done so.

Love.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Connection

We hold that Connectedness is a human right and a "good thing" expressed as:
Everyone/Everything/Everywhere/Always Connected

The objections to and avoidance of methods/processes/techniques that further this goal are often excused with: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity (or ignorance)."

Are people who provide materials for the Web, but ignore the "everyone" part ("after all, I'm not writing this for blind people") bigots, or just uninformed, but well-meaning?

In the end it doesn't matter. Violating human rights because of the convenience of not having to consider some excluded pejoratively-named group is inexcusable.

When we are in a position to affect the process, whether it be segregation, institutionalization, or Web Accessibility, we should act, much as many react to insults to their kin.

After all, we are all members of one another.

Love.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

In a Tim Bray blog there's a quote from photographer Will Connell: "...too many budding neophytes learn to speak the language too long before they have anything to say.”

Of course I was pulled up short by how, in so pontificating, he establishes himself as an arbiter about what anyone else has to say, or how good their photographs are.

What it evoked in me is the memory of a Sunday afternoon about 50 years ago when I got a chance to play a tune with the Miles Davis Quintet during a Sunday matinee at the Blackhawk in San Francisco. All five of the legendary jazz players in that group are dead, so I'm the last remaining person who had that particular experience, which is a major signpost of my life in music.

I wasn't all that bad a player and the fact that my instrument was so unique (boobams) made it acceptable and in fact some of the things I recorded with Chet Baker aren't at all embarrassing.

It's not impossible that Miles thought I was a "wannabe" but there was no indication of that at the time and he always treated me with respect, but the fact remains that those five had put in many years of intense practice to get to the level they'd reached and I taught myself to play in a few months and wasn't exceptionally proficient.

We mustn't be unaware that when we judge somebody's efforts as inept, we keep in mind that it's all relative. Not too many Mozarts around, but a lot of people get a lot out of writing/playing music even if it goes unheard/unappreciated - at the very least they dig it.

Love.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Whither Weather?

I don't often sermonize about the weather but...

Yesterday's heavy rain erased the last vestiges of snow on the ranch and it was, for this time of year, warm (45 F). It seemed that being snowbound was simply a memory.

Overnight the snow returned, by far the heaviest of the winter and fresh snow has covered everything to a depth of about 4 inches and it's still falling very densely.

We won't be able to get the car out because we didn't leave it up on the pad by Vosberg Lane, so I'll likely be unable to emerge for days. I'll miss the pinochle game at the Senior Center again tomorrow. Just hope the satellite antenna can shed it fast enough for me to get this message out!

Love.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Forgetting

Increasingly often, I forget what I was about to do or say although usually shortly thereafter it comes back to me - only to re-submerge as I start to do it!

It's not dementia or senility because the sharpness is still there, at least internally.

The physical part is actually getting better - probably because of the fact that I've been doing the same isometric calisthenics every morning upon awakening and in addition to getting svelter/stronger I'm able to walk with good balance, although at times I have to attend to avoiding weaving. Falls are rare and invariably involve ice or obstacles.

There's probably a bit more "sense of repose" in attitude although I still emote a lot, mostly in private. Sometimes I'll let it out in these sermons and more often in emails concerning my passions like an impatience with the need to be patient.

As is often said, "it sure beats the alternative!"

Love.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Ageing

In our culture steaks/wine/cheese are considered better when they are "aged."

Not so much so with people who are often thought of as "useless eaters."

In some other societies, old folks are respected, even revered for their function of maintaining the essential lore and their ability to disseminate it.

The World Wide Web is "age-neutral" and although one's sensory faculties are gradually impaired as time goes by, in general sanity is retained.

Does just age preclude participation? Some of us believe that we can keep on keeping on with our Web activities.

Love.

Monday, January 5, 2009

crisis?

It's very probable that the current "crisis/disaster" in the world's economic system, in addition to not really being a crisis (a crisis is when we run out of air or water, not money!) was caused by the World Wide Web.

As we shrink transaction costs and latency, we discover that the efficiencies and savings generated therefrom are based on getting rid of redundant labor: jobs.

The laying off of millions of "workers" is how these savings get banked, albeit probably in the wrong bank accounts!

This new society has already destroyed the "phone company" and the "banking industry" and will shortly do the same for "insurance" and many other familiar institutions, including charities and even religions and governments with their borders and armies.

We are not addressing how best to benefit from the elimination of pointless "jobs". So long as we subsidize employment rather than people, this will continue.

Love.