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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mr. Jackson, I was sitting in a parking lot getting ready for work.

I was working at Payless Cashways in north Wichita and i had gotten to work early that day.   I was a newer ham radio operator and i was talking to a group of guys and one of them had his television on and was watching the news.  Scott mentioned that he thought it looked like alot more damage than the small plane they were talking about.  Suddenly, the other tower got hit.  I remember him telling all of us that the second tower had been hit.  The first thing out of everyone's mouth was, "That was no accident."  We knew it was a terrorist act.  I spent the rest of the day at work but no one was listening to anything else as the day passed.  I remember talking to my wife throughout the day about what had happened.

I was the father of a beatiful 2 year old daughter and the world had just changed.  The one thing I can't remember about that day is if we knew that my wife was excpecting our second child at that moment.  Today, I am a father to five beautiful daughters that live in this house.  They are growing up in a world that is different than the one I grew up in.  Then again, we all grow up in a world slightly different than the prior generation.  I remember watching the Challenger accident, Oklahoma City bombing and the fall of the Berlin wall.  I remember my father telling me he didn't think that wall would ever fall. 

Yes, the world is still turning and is different today than it was on September 11th.  It is a very different world.  Today, Payless Cashways doesn't exist anymore and I work at 911 in a post 9/11 world.  I have heard tapes of calls from that day and can only imagine the sheer panic and terror for those workers listening to people that would die and they couldn't do anything to help.  They sent men and women into burning buildings to save them and then the world came tumbling down.  Part of America shattered into pieces all over the ground that day as our innocence died.

Part of America died that day but part of us was born anew and it has been growing up over the past 10 years.  My children will always grow up in a post 9/11 world.  I have done everything I can to protect their innocence for as long as I can.  To allow them to just be children but I know that as we move forward something will happen to try to destroy that innocence.  Something will happen again that will capture their attention, emotions and conscience and cause the world to stop turning.  A high school teacher told me she remembered what she was doing when JFK was assasinated, that moment of connection with the rest of the nation.  Challenger, the Berlin Wall and September 11th are very much the same.  Moment's of connection with the rest of this nation.

I remember watching the Queen of Egland at a prayer service in Westminster praying for the United States.  She was singing along to a patriotic hymn blessing the USA.  Let me repeat that.  The Queen of England, whose ancestors had been defeated by the United States, was singing a USA patriotic hymn that was a rewritten version of the one honoring her (God Save the Queen).  I never thought I would see something like that.  That moment of connection went past this nation, it went around the world.  That moment, that shot was louder than the shot heard around the world.  May we never hear a shot like that again.  

Today, I honor the heroes, those who gave themselves on Septermber 11th and would never leave that place.  Those who died because they went to work that day.  I honor all of those who have fallen in their footsteps and undertaken civil service after that day.  Lest we ever forget those who died that day, any of them, they all have a dignity because they are human and some of the finest that day showed us the true dignity of what it meant to be human because a few showed us the worst portrayal of it.  Out of the ashes rose the Phoenix and so rose bravery that day.  

If you have read this far, thank you for listening to this man's ramblings about that day 10 years ago.  I am simply writing a few unplanned recollections before I put on my work uniform and go to work this morning.  Stay safe today and every day.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Boundaries are the Privacy Control

Separate public and private personas are frequently constructed by members of our society. They party, tell crass jokes or participate in other behaviors a potential employer may find offensive, but they do not advertise those behaviors at work. A small circle of people know about these activities, but are not connected to the public persona, do not care about the behavior, or participate in the behavior as well. Boundaries about who knows about these behaviors are set to maintain and build privacy. People do not normally advertise the private part of their life. People recovering from hangovers usually do not post pictures of drunken stunts on break room bulletin boards, place them on billboards, or as advertisements in the local newspaper. The separation of private and public has grown muddled and it is imperative to set clear boundaries to prevent sharing private activities in a wider context than desired.

Traditional forms of communication such as by phone or in person are falling to the wayside as people begin to tell about private activities on social networks with unseen, unperceived, and uninvited guests present. Those unknown guests are the social network itself and everyone participating in the social network. People from different spheres of life, both public and private, are connected together through social networks. Postings about a wild drinking binge from the other night do not go just to the friends who find it humorous. Though the person posting considers the post a private conversation between friends it can easily be seen by many people. This can potentially expose embarrassing behavior to an employer and bring about negative consequences. The revealing of something private about a social networking user may cause them to feel their right to privacy has been violated. On the contrary, the right to privacy has not been violated; the information was made readily accessible to many people via the social network.

An employer researching a potential employee on a social network is not violating a right to privacy as some workers may argue. These workers argue for a wall separating the personal and work worlds. This wall would keep consequences stemming from activities in the personal part of life from occurring in the work world. A breach of privacy does not occur in this case but a failure to set boundaries around offensive behavior and the forum that offensive behavior is discussed in. The door is opened to make the information public and available to employers when posted on the internet.

Blaine reinforces this, speaking directly to the need for awareness of how people can misuse information posted online. Considering how "friends" may represent a potential employee’s social life, as seen on a social network, to an employer (Blaine 4) becomes a necessary forethought before posting on the internet. Edelstein makes a different and similarly persuasive position promoting awareness about who can access an individual’s social networking pages. Patrons of social networks must cautiously set boundaries around what they discuss online as some college students are being asked to spy on classmates by employers. Easy data accessibility makes it problematic to “tell all” on the internet (Edelstein 352).

Both of these examples speak to a deeper principle about sharing things with other people. Once information passes to someone new they have the ability to do with it as they please. Postings on the internet are more than a personal recollection of a conversation, they are reproducible making them more persuasive and potentially damaging if they are found offensive by an employer. Who is told, how they are told, and what they are told determine the amount of privacy created. The power to maintain privacy lies with the person who sets the boundary and not through telling people to ignore information after it is made accessible for them to read.

Controlling access to data dictates a positive obligation to set boundaries in order to generate the privacy a person needs or desires. Users of networking sites should not expect an invisible barrier of privacy to be present. Intending a post for a particular trusted friend does not create privacy. The need to set boundaries in order to maintain privacy is obvious in other parts of life, but society does not fully understand the impact of this when it comes to social networking. Social networking sets an expectation of friendship, but instead of talking just to a friend, the network broadcasts that information to all of the friends, including people that will possibly misunderstand or misuse the information posted.

Looking at how a spy communicates sensitive data serves as a good illustration of the relationship between setting boundaries and privacy. It is reasonable to accept that a message sent to a spy would be encrypted or self-destruct after ten seconds because of the need to keep that information secret or private from the bad guys. The spy sets boundaries around his communications to maintain his privacy and only then keeps the information private he wants private. When a person posts something on a social network, he has written down the message in a format that does not self destruct. Unlike a book or a piece of paper, something posted on the internet becomes location agnostic for reading and easier accessibility to a spouse, employer, or anyone else.

Arguing that social networks should be accessible by employers, Blaine notes a common historical practice employers used was to present a prospective employee with a social situation for them to deal with. This practice allowed an employer to learn about the prospective employee in a way the formal reviewing of a candidate could not provide (Blaine 5). Edelstein also alludes to employers seeking information outside of the formal application or resume through background checks (351). These two practices provide employers insight into the personality of the potential employee.

Every interaction in society makes or breaks information sharing boundaries, be it a resume, social networking post or an interview. A prospective employee sets one boundary, but an employer is able to look for another place in which the boundary is lower so they can gain further insight into the employee. The violation of privacy does not exist because the employee has placed the material in public view. The employer only has to undertake the effort to find the information.

An employer finding and using something on a social network to justify negative consequences against a prospective employee demonstrates a failure in setting and maintaining proper boundaries, not a violation of privacy. Users of social networks can make the case to expect privacy, claiming expectations and privacy controls present on social networking sites. However, the moment an individual begins to share thoughts with other people they have to trust in that person to respect the boundaries set to preserve privacy; this trust includes the networking site they share information about their private life on.

Real privacy comes from boundaries being set, by individuals and by society, to regulate what is public and private. The problem with privacy in social networks arises from users forgetting that new boundaries are present. Multiple spheres of people being simultaneously present on a social network can allow for unwanted sharing of activities. Users must also trust the platform of social networking to protect what they share privately with others on the internet. Employers have not changed the way they would view public discussion of offensive behavior. Employers have always been able to ask people that know us what we are like and find out what they will say about us. Everyone must set boundaries about how and with whom they share those private moments of their life if they do not want unintended consequences at work.

Works Cited
Blaine, Erin.  “Should Data Posted on Social-Networking Sites Be ‘Fair Game’ for Employers?” Practical Argument.  Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell.  Boston/NewYork: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011. 274-279. Print. 1-6. Handout.
Edelstein, Lindsay. “Employers Are Monitoring Social Networking Sites.” The Purposeful Argument: A Practical Guide. Phillips, Harry and Patricia Bostain.  Boston: Wadsworth, 2012. 351-353

Monday, June 6, 2011

Most Quotable Person: Author Unknown

"Everyone would be much more pleasant and appealing to me if they would just act the way I want them to." --Author Unknown
My theory is that the first time a quote shows up from Author Unknown it might just be made up by the person quoting Author Unknown.  Author Unknown might just be a big scapegoat for people that don't want to attatch their name to a thought or they just can't remember who said it.

Related articles, courtesy of Zemanta:

Friday, June 3, 2011

Why I like command lines

I like to use command line based or DFE (Distraction Free Editors) for most of the writing that I am doing and I am doing lots of it lately.  Actually, I have really love to just start writing without editing with a good old fashion paper and pen.  That seems to do a really good job of getting all of my ideas out.  This is something that can be a problem for me, getting all of my ideas out.  At times I have so many things that I want to do that if I spend time editing as I go (big tendency in Microsoft Word) then I end up dropping points I was meaning to make.

If you want to stick with something straightforward and basic in a Windows environment, I really like Sublime text.  It's a slick little interface that you can use for lots of different things, it's not free but you can download and evaluate it for free but then you have to purchase a user license.  I was really thinking about going ahead and using this but then I fell in love with another editor.

I use Org-Mode in Emacs to do lots of my editing and organizing.  It also lets me keep track of calendar items, clock time spent on projects, TODO lists, blog and do a million other things but it also lets me do hiearchy based outlines for text editing and everythingg is kept in a text format so I can open it up on about any text editor and the files are really small.  

For the VIM fans of the world they do have a VIM port of Org-Mode you can play with.  

I really like the interface for keeping track of my stuff and not getting distracted by the millions of other distractions that the computer screen can represent when you can click over to the other things.  However, a slick web-based one that looks great in full screen is Big Huge Labs Writer.  I might have to try that one sometime soon, it looks pretty for just good ol' fashion text work.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Presidential Signing the Constitution Away

            Our forefathers came to this great land to escape tyrants and find freedom.   Standing together to declare freedom from oppression, making their voices heard and clear on the point that government was not an authority to be served but to serve.  Our founding fathers started with a weak central government under the Articles of Confederation, moving to a stronger federal government under the Constitution.  The founding fathers found freedom from a king who held all the power over the people.  This led the founding fathers to create a system of checks and balances by separating the powers of government across the different parts.  This separation of powers protects our freedoms as citizens of these United States.  If these powers were gathered together, it would open the door for tyranny by putting all of the tools of government in the reach of one man.  Over the past thirty years Presidents of both political parties, frustrated by legislation being sent to them, have acted in a way that violates the separation of powers and in doing so have gathered the separated powers together opening the doorway for tyranny to come to power.  Presidents are able to deal with legislation in a way, regardless of any overwhelming support, it could simply be silenced along with the will of every American citizen.  This tide must be stemmed through decisive action to ensure that the representative self-government fought for by our forefathers will not perish from this great land by our enslavement in tyranny that our country has consistently fought against across lands both domestic and foreign.

            The practice of the President issuing a statement in conjunction with the signing of legislation into law has become common over the past 30 years.  These statements are printed as part of the official printing of the bill and as both former Assistant Attorney General Dellinger and the American Bar Association note Signing Statements are normally praise for the legislation, thanks directed towards people instrumental in its passing or a description of its utility (Harvard Law Review 601).  This type of statement was first issued by President James Monroe (American Bar Association 7) but was not common until the presidency of Ronald Regan, who issued 276 signing statements on pieces of legislation (Roberts and Pfiffner 250). 

            Critics of Presidential Signing Statements note that they aren’t listed in the Constitution as part of the Presentment Clause (The Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 7, Clauses 2 - 3).  The claim derives from signing statements not being part of how the Constitution dictates handling legislation passed, making them unconstitutional.  It is clear that a Signing Statements are extra-constitutional, or outside the express wording of the constitution, but that doesn’t necessarily make it unconstitutional.  Presidential rejection of legislation mandates delivery of a statement to the Congress but not when signing legislation into law.  Presidential activities are not constrained to only things listed in the constitution or else the argument could be made that any press conference, speech or statement would be unconstitutional due to it not being prescribed in the Constitution. 

            The concern or problem with Signing Statements is that recent Presidents are having them printed with legislation signed into law with the intention of it carrying legal weight (Harvard Law Review 602).  The President will write a Signing Statement questioning the constitutionality of sections of the legislation and providing interpretation it in a way that is different from the plain writing of the law (Frank qtd in Gates, pg 14).  President Regan was the first to do this (Harvard Law Review 599), followed by Clinton (Johnsen, 7) and Bush (Gate).  Then candidate Obama clearly stated his belief of the unconstitutionality of this practice and vowed he wouldn’t use them in the same (Obama qtd by CNSnews). 

                        Not long after taking office President Obama began issuing Signing Statements to modify legislation to his liking.  In the statements issued, President Obama interpreted legislation as being contrary to his authority as president (Wooley, Presidency Project).  This caused furor due to his previous statements on this issue (Underwood, George Mason History News).  The continued usage of signing statements is problematic as it continues to gather the powers of the legislature and judiciary into the office of the President. 

            The first power being gathered is that of the legislator, to see how this happens an examination of the line-item veto used under the Clinton Presidency that allowed then President Clinton to accept legislation in part and not as a whole, much like the more modern usage of Signing Statements, will show how that happens.  President Clinton signed the Line-Item Veto into law on allowing him the ability to strike sections of legislation sent to him, or accepting it in part.  This was later found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court decision in New York vs. Clinton.  The majority opinion struck on two major points.  The first was that the line-item veto gave the president the power to reshape laws by taking things only in parts to his liking and not considering the complete legislation as passed contrary to the plain reading of the Presentment Clause.  The President’s ability to reshape the meaning of the law through the line-item veto by only accepting it in part give the president the ability to change the legislation passed before it becomes law without the congress voting on the final form.  This is a de facto legislative power taken into the presidency violating the separation of powers dictated in the constitution by our founding fathers.  When the President issues a Signing Statement that openly states he is not going to follow the law as written or implement only the part of it he likes it causes the same result as the line-item veto, taking the legislative powers into his office.

            The second power being gathered is the one that decides that validity of a law in the light of the constitution, the judiciary.  The president will look at a piece of legislation, determine that part of it is very desirable for his agenda but dislike another part, feeling that it may be unconstitutional or infringe on his rights as President.  At this point the president may choose to veto or sign the bill as is called for in the Constitution.  As we have already seen, the problem recently is the President issuing a Signing Statement expressing his legal interpretation through commentary that he feels should carry comparable weight in the courts to what passed the legislature or rejecting parts of the legislation signed into law.  Under this point the president is using the excuse of making a judicial decision of constitutionality in determining lack of enforcement of a law.  This is a second separated power that is now being gathered into the office of the executive.

            Now we have come to a point of concentration of the powers of the central government under the Signing Statement model.  The president crafting legislation into what he wants it to be without oversight from the legislators and making decisions about the constitutionality of the law without judicial review.  The reason for the separation of powers was to provide checks and balances from any one branch of government becoming too powerful.  The prevention of tyranny through co-equal branches of governance, ensuring representation and preventing oppression of the citizens is now being violated through presidential Signing Statements.  Now is the time for solutions so that the tyranny does not grow into something menacing from the current benevolent usage.

            The first possible solution would be to allow the line-item veto eliminating the need for the President to use Signing Statements to reject part of a piece of legislation.  This would require an amendment to the Constitution or a change in the way that the line-item veto functions by re-passage of the legislation without the rejected sections.  The problem with either of these two items is that a president could easily clog the Congress with veto after veto to be dealt with on specific line items causing other legislation not to be dealt with.

            Another possible solution might be to impeach the president for breach of the constitutional duty to enforce laws (The Constitution of the United States, Article II, Section 3, Clause 4) that are passed with the Signing Statement being a clear expression of the dereliction of duty.  The problem with this approach is it would create the situation of a partisan argument over the policy that is not being enforced and not about the lack of enforcement.  Even if the President was deposed of his office it would still not solve the problem created by the way that Signing Statements are currently used and could easily be viewed as a partisan attack on the President.  This is disconcerting Presidents from both parties have utilized this tactic when encountering law they do not care for.  We must find a solution that moves the nation forward and limits the possibility of falling into partisan turmoil; this isn’t about particular laws or policies but about the health of our government’s soul we find in its founding principles. 

            A better solution is fivefold, designed to address the current problem but also its causes.  First, formally define a Signing Statement in the Constitution making it an optional item that carries no weight in law or interpretation of law by its existence alone.  Second, to prevent a President from feeling compelled to sign a piece of law because it gives something that desirable but has something less desirable inserted into it.  The houses of congress should limit the span that legislation to cover to a single topical area making all votes are up or down on one thing and less popular proposals can’t be added to popular proposals.  Third, defining the willful refusal to uphold constitutional directives explicitly assigned to the elected office held as being grounds for impeachment.  This would make the terms that a President could be impeached for in this realm much more explicit.  Fourthly, give the President the ability to immediately send a bill into the courts for review asking for a stay of enforcement on parts of the bill allowing for full constitutional review.  Lastly, a veto of legislation must be broken into two parts to explain the problem the President has with the bill but also offer specific proposals for modification of the bill to make it acceptable to him, providing a starting place for possible reform.

            This described five-part solution would give a President the ability to not enforce any part that was deemed unconstitutional and a way to instigate that review.  Any part that is constitutional and passed by the representatives of the citizens would need to be enforced and deliberate betrayal of that trust would be an impeachable offense.  Any veto would also have to list specific reasons for the objection such as questioning the constitutionality of a section or believing the policy to not be in the best interest of the country, this would set the stage for any overridden veto to have to be handled in a certain way by the President to avoid risking impeachment by either enforcing the law or sending it for Judicial review.

            While the presidents, both Republican and Democrat, have used Signing Statements with good intentions it was also the design of our well-intentioned founding fathers to separate the powers of government to keep them from being abused.  In working to solve the problem we must address the concerns that a President may have about parts of a law that they find unsuitable through veto and constitutional review.  That is balanced with the needs of the citizens to be represented and have our will carried out.  This isn’t about which party is right or wrong but about the shape of the nation’s soul in how it will conduct itself as the outpost of freedom it was founded to become.


Works Cited

CNS News. “ Do You Promise Not To Use Signing Statements? Candidate Obama in ’08: ‘Yes’”. YouTube Channel.  April 19, 2011. Web. 20 April 2011.

Gate, Harrison. “The Historical Roots of Presidential Signing Statements.” Washington and Lee University. Web. 29 April 2011

Harvard Law Review. “Context-Sensitive Deference to Presidential Signing Statements.” Vol. 120, No. 2 (Dec., 2006). pp. 597-618. Jstor. Web. 15 April 2011.

Johnsen, Dawn E. “Presidential Non-Enforcement of Constitutionally Objectionable Statutes.” Law and Contemporary Problems: The Constitution under Clinton: A Critical Assessment. Duke University. Vol. 64 No ½. (2000). pp. 7-60. Jstor. Web. 15 April 2011.

Roberts, Nancy and James Piffner. “Presidential Signing Statements and Their Implications for Public Administration.“ Public Administration Review. 69.2 (2009). 249-255. ABI/INFORM. Web. 20 April 2011.

Supreme Court Of the United States. Clinton Vs. New York.  June 25, 1998. FindLaw Web.  24 April 2011.

Wooley, John and Gerhard Peters. “Presidential Signing Statements: Hoover-Obama.” The American Presidency Project. 2011. University of California Santa Barbara. Web. 19 April 2011.

US. House of Representatives. Government Printing Office. “The Constitution of the United States”. Government Printing Office. 25 July 2007. 17 Apr. 0211

Underwood, Nick. “Signing Statements: Is Obama Following in Bush’s Steps?” History News Network. George Mason University. 2009. Web. 19 April 2011






Friday, April 29, 2011

Il Grande Papa Wojtyla - (Canzone "Jesus Christ You are my Life")

Soon it will be Blessed John Paul, Pope. From the edge of Schism we have come and now we continue to build brick by brick. The reform of the reform is beginning, the new evangelization is underway and we have the work of Christian Unity in front of us.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Viral Video for President

Analysis paper for my College English class:

The expected first place finish in the Iowa primary was shattered by the disappointing results pointing at a third place finish.  The exhaustion brought on by the constant campaigning was compounded by the flu dragging his body down and a sore throat making it hard to talk.  Accepting the early defeat, he took to the stage to concede to the third place finish but also to re-energize support for the upcoming presidential primaries.  The crowd roared in waves of cheering as the candidate took to the stage.  He took the cue to rally his supporters together; he called for a charge to victory, calling out the names of the states with upcoming primary elections.  His sore throat made it hard to be heard over the frenzied mob gathered that evening.  He ended with an enthusiastic, “yeah!”  Nothing seemed awry until the video feed was shown.  The candidate had been holding a unidirectional microphone designed to pick up just his voice and not the crowd.  The combination of yelling to be heard over the crowd, a microphone that couldn’t hear the crowd and his voice giving out from being sick caused his screaming climax of “yeah” to sound like the war cry of a mad man and not of a presidential candidate.   This became The Dean Scream, replayed many times and edited into many different forms through remixing.  The Dean Scream marked the beginning of the end of Howard Dean’s hopes for the presidency.  Was this a coincidence, aberration or could a sensational internet video or meme deeply impact a presidential election?
Internet sensations come in as many different forms as there are ways to post information on the internet.  Status updates can be turned into innuendo by a woman posting where she likes to keep her purse.  A slightly amusing phrase can be turned into a song through auto-tuning.  Pictures showing something gone wrong can have a phrase placed below them and become a spoof of a motivational poster.  People will answer a series of questions in a certain way and have their friends do the same.  A picture of a cat in an awkward spot is transformed with a funny misspelled phrase written on it.  These all take a point of information and add a funny spin to them.  You can also see the existence of this phenomenon in status updates that ask people to copy and paste a status to show support for a cause.  What we need to determine is if something like this can have an impact on the results of a presidential election.
Examining the composition of the American electorate, the people eligible to cast a vote in an election, shows what is being impacted by these bits of information.  The time spent campaigning is an attempt to influence these people into first, actually voting and secondly, voting for a particular candidate.  What influences the way that these people will vote?  That complex question is aptly answered by Baum and Jamison by dividing the American electorate into two parts, low-awareness and high-awareness, that is persuaded by two distinct types of news or information that affect their voting behavior (949).   High-awareness voters want hard hitting news designed to give them facts on the issues, examples being talk radio and 24 hour news networks (Baum and Jamison, 947).  However, low-awareness voters are moved by soft news, news designed about a relationship with the candidate and showing the candidates personality (Baum and Jamison, 948), like Bill Clinton playing the saxophone on late night television or Barack Obama being interviewed by Oprah. 
Considering that the last six presidential elections had margins of less than ten million votes consistent with a pattern for most presidential elections(“Presidential Elections”, InfoPlease), it is plausible for some form of alternative media that reaches a critical population to change the outcome of an election.  Take into consideration that Obama Girl was able to achieve ten million views during the last election cycle over 16 months ending on 28 October 2011 (Dube) going back to the initial upload on 13 June 2007 (Ettinger) to and now 3 years later the music video “Friday” by Rebecca Black quickly amasses over 87 million views in less than a month (Wilson).  The increased velocity that these spread is partially due to the increase of internet access and personalized or social usage of the internet for information (Bennett and Manheim, 223).  Social internet usage allows real-time updates and spreading to friends with every user being able to create and spread content instead of having access to a moderated and static webpage.  The model of communication has changed from Few-to-Many to Many-to-Many as communication hubs are eliminated (Dalsgaard, 10).
Also influential in gaining increased views on the internet is the increased proliferation of hand-held devices, such as cell-phones that can create, upload and share content through social networking sites such as Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.  Many cellphone and now tablet styled devices, both herein referred to as the mobile platform due to their portability and form factor, have a constant connection to the internet with sufficient resolution and processing power to edit still images and videos.  Three factors play a part in regards to these devices: content creation at a low price, the network effect and constant content consumption.
Low price accessibility in the mobile platform is caused by a variety of factors that bring about widespread proliferation.  The first is going to be Moore’s law that states electronics double in capacity and power every 24 months.  This pattern allows things to be smaller, more efficient and economical.  The second factor that drives down price, especially in the mobile platform, is telephone carrier subsidization of hardware.  Carriers will sell the connected mobile platform below cost knowing they have a signed contract for a set duration allowing them to recover the cost over that term.  These two factors allow people to gain inexpensive access to the hardware to create and distribute content.  The proliferation of these devices in the mobile platform started significantly in 2007 with the introduction of the Apple iPhone and moving to include the Android Operating System to end with a presence of mobile platform devices in the United States numbering 69.9 million users (Kats). 
The  ability to not only create, share and consume information anywhere at anytime delivered by these devices without being tied to a physical internet connection alone has drastically increased the amount of internet content that can be consumed.  Remember Obama Girl’s 16 month run for 10 million views compared to Rebecca Black’s one month to 87 million views?  Widespread consumption is the first step for an internet sensation or media point to have dramatically far reaching impact.  The second step is in the mobile platform space and the ability to create content.  From something as simple as filming your child on narcotics after they get dental work as seen in “David After Dentist”, catching a “Double Rainbow” on video in your front yard, re-inventing  the filming of a Double Rainbow into a song via auto-tuning, catching apparent clothing disasters on camera at a Wal-Mart or designing a de-motivational poster.  All of these things are easily done with today’s mobile platform hardware.  The drive for the high demand for these two sides is the ability to share content.  The content gains social value with the ability to put it into a repository and share it.  This has allowed us to move from a solely mediated set of creators of shared bits of information to every participant being able to be a creator and distributor.  Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr are currently the most prevalent sharing systems for any type of content.  The ability to Re-Tweet, Share or Reblog making it easy for social circles adjoining the social circles of the creator to have content move across them to a point that groups of people seeing the information are no longer connected to the original creator directly. 
Due to increased access to individually created, socially shared media and how easily it can be made to become widespread we arrive at one unmistakable reality, the 2012 Presidential election will be influenced by social media and it is entirely possible that an internet sensation in the form of a meme or video could change the outcome of the voting by being more influential on the swayable voters than traditional media.  We have already seen, in a less connected time, how it dashed the hopes of the presidency for Howard Dean.  How much more could a social gaffe like not knowing the cost of a gallon of milk, vomiting in a foreign dignitaries lap, being accused of spelling a word incorrectly or any other number of things spread across the internet?  It is clear that it would be able to spread quickly in a style of news that could easily impact not only unmotivated voters but could spread, as Obama Girl did to more hardcore news stories geared towards motivated voters.  Our next president could easily be brought to victory by a video or meme created by an outsider to the political process and spread throughout the internet.

Works Cited
Baum, Matthew, and Jamison, Angela.  “The Oprah Effect: How Soft News Helps
Inattentive Citizens Vote Consistently.” The Journal of Politics. 68.4 (2006):
946-959. Web 25 March 2011.
Bennett, W. Lance, and Manheim, Jarol B.  “The One-Step Flow of Communication.”
Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Vol. 608.Nov
(2006): 213-232. Jstor. Web. 30 March 2011.
Dalsgaard, Stephen. “Facework on Facebook.” Anthropology Today. 24.6 (2008):
8-12. Wiley Online Library. Web. 30 March 2011
Dube, Johnathon. Obama Girl, Jib Jab, Youtube Debates Named Top Political
            Web Moments by Webbys. 28 October 2008. CyberJournalist.Net. Web.
            10 April 2011
Ettinger, Amber Lee. Crush on Obama. Youtube.  BarelyPolitical. 13 June 2007.
Web. 10 April 2011
Kats, Rimma. Mobile Web users increase to 69.9M: Study. 19 March 2010.
Mobile Marketer. Web. 10 April 2011.
“Presidential Elections, 1789 – 2008.” InfoPlease. Peasron Education, 2007 Web.
 10 April 2011
Wilson, Patrice. Rebecca Black – Friday (Official Video). Youtube. Perf. Rebecca Black.
10 February 2011. Ark Music. Web. 7 April 2011.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Force of Misery

The ability to choose gives human beings the ability to take part in
shaping human destiny. The impact of human choices is found in chance
encounters and dramatic decisions between good and evil. The choice of
how to respond to the force of suffering and misery has a profound impact
on human destiny. Jean ValJean of the novel Les Miserables and Anakin
Skywalker of the dual Star Wars trilogies are two tragic characters that
exemplify the power of choice. Similarities are present throughout their
stories, but they each have a distinct path from fall to redemption. They
are two unique men, influenced along different paths by the force of
misery as they encounter rules and opportunities for power.

Jean Valjen and Anakin Skywalker both experience enslavement, fall from
favor, salvation and redemption. Jean ValJean is imprisoned for stealing
bread, is released, receives hospitality from a bishop, falls into
disfavor by stealing from him, is immediately redeemed by a debt enjoined
on him by the bishop and spends the rest of his life working out his
salvation. Anakin Skywalker is held in slavery, his freedom is purchased
by a Jedi, he falls into disfavor by choosing to serve a dark master to
gain powers, is redeemed by the sacrifice of his son years later and dies
working out his salvation by destroying his dark master.

The rules of a society and the enforcement of these rules set the
groundwork for how people interact with each other and have the potential
for causing much suffering. Jean ValJean is sent to jail for breaking a
window pane while stealing a piece of bread (Hugo 18). So that he can fill
his need for something to eat. The rules of society continue to punish
him as he rebels against them through multiple escape attempts (Hugo 19).
At the center of the confrontations between Javert and Jean Valjean is the
conflict between the societal rules that require Jean ValJean to return to
prison and his sense of justice that demands reparation. Jean ValJean
responds to the rules with the demand that what he feels are the demands
of justice he must fulfill to be carried out but also accepts the
punishments set forth by the rules of society. Jean ValJean’s acceptance
of punishment grows and is demonstrated by his first escaping from capture
(Hugo 104), to giving Javert his address (Hugo 490) and then having Javert
accompany him to his residence to take him to jail (Hugo 522). Even his
attempts to escape from custody are driven by his obligation to take care
of Cosette (Hugo 579). With ultimate consideration of justice for others
Jean ValJean moves from disregard for rules toward following them more

 In convergence with Jean ValJean’s reactions one finds the
reactions of Anakin Skywalker to the rules of society that he comes into
conflict with along his path. In The Phantom Menace, Anakin starts as a
young obedient boy who bends the rules. In one of the climactic scenes in
the fight for the planet Naboo, Anakin is told to stay in a fighter
spacecraft inside a hangar with the obvious intention of him not leaving
the hangar. The fighter spacecraft takes to the air on auto-pilot into
the midst of a battle but upon gaining control of the fighter spacecraft
Anakin Skywalker refuses to return to the planet because he is following
his orders by staying in the cockpit (The Phantom Menace). Anakin moves
from bending the rules to flagrant disregard of rules as he gets older.
Anakin is now sent to guard Padme Amidala leading to his eventual secret
marriage, which is directly against the rules of the Jedi Order (Attack of
the Clones). Anakin deepens his transgressions against rules from
breaking to outright manipulation of people by abusing how rules are
applied. In the battle scene between Mace Windu and the Emperor
Palpatine, Palpatine claims to be losing power, becoming too weak to
survive. At this point, Mace Windu decides to break the rules and kill
Palpatine. Anakin pleads that Palpatine “must stand trial,” “it’s not the
Jedi way,” and “I need him” (The Revenge of the Sith). These three
instances show how Anakin Skywalker moves from being a slave under total
control of the law, to bending of rules, on to breaking them and then
finally manipulation of how the rules are applied to serve his selfish
ends. He has a need and desire to keep Palpatine alive for personal gain
and not out of a sense of justice being fulfilled.

These two characters interact with power given to them in very different
ways. Anakin starts as a young boy setting out to help others and prove
himself as a pod-racer on the planet of Tatooine. He finds out he
possesses a special ability to manipulate the force to such a high degree
that it may be more powerful than anyone has ever possessed. His natural
inclinations with this power are enough to save him but not his mother
from slavery (The Phantom Menace). In Attack of the Clones we again see
Anakin wield his power in an attempt to save Obi-Wan and his mother. He
is unable to do so by himself and almost loses his love, Padme, as well.
Facing Count Dooku for the first time, Anakin rushes fiercely into battle
to defeat Dooku and he fails to defeat the Count. Anakin faces Count
Dooku a second time in The Revenge of the Sith and in this duel he openly
states that his “powers have doubled since the last time we met, Count.”
Dooku shows the audience the peril Anakin is in when he retorts, “twice
the pride, double the fall.” Dooku is defeated by Anakin and executed him
without due process when he is defenseless. Now, Anakin is placed on the
Jedi Council by the Emperor and Anakin desires the title of Master that
goes with the position but is denied it. He is denied the prestige,
privilege and power to command what he feels is due him. In the final
scenes with Padme on Mustafar, Anakin talks about his power, gaining it
for Padme, making “his new Empire” the way that he wants. He is furious
when Padme refuses him, similar to the way that he feels the Jedi turned
away from him. He no longer serves any purpose other that his own designs
for greatness and power. Upon being confronted by Obi-wan Kenobi he
states “I am becoming more powerful than any Jedi” (The Revenge of the
Sith). Ironically, it is Anakin’s son refusing to take power and refusal
to strike down Anakin, in the person of Vader, that brings Anakin’s
salvation (The Return of the Jedi). Up until that moment Anakin continues
to show his want for more power as an end in itself.

Opposing the desire for power is the idea of being a servant that we see
in Jean ValJean. He starts to repay his debt by running a factory so that
any of the poor could find work and just wages as an act of service.
ValJean’s rejects of the position of mayor that is given to him by the
king, showing his public rejection of the position and power (Hugo 42).
Then, after no longer being able to avoid the title of Mayor and charge
over the police, he is content to be a simple gardener without even his
own name, serving the sisters of the convent that instruct Cossette (Hugo
214). ValJean continues to serve the poor and less fortunate, even to the
point of it being a flaw, as he promises to pay rent (Hugo 289) for people
who turn out to be his adversaries, the Thenardiers, and they attempt to
rob him (Hugo 318). The greatest level of service comes at the barricade,
through protection of lives by risking his own life to bring people to
safety. He accomplishes this without attack of another or defense of
himself, his only objective was to just render aid to others (Hugo 495).
Finally, as he loses strength and is at the point of death he leaves to
Cosette the information about money that is hers (Hugo 565) and he
continues his service to poor, leaving alms to be distributed to the poor
in his final breaths (Hugo 583).

Both of these men experience the force of misery and take different paths
to salvation and redemption. Both men die in the end, after being saved
and redeemed. The human choice of Jean ValJean and Anakin Skywalker in
responding to the misery they experience and how they choose to use the
power they are given are two of the integral things that make these
characters stand in contrast to each other. The fact that they fall, are
redeemed and saved makes them the same.

Works Cited

Hugo, Victor. Les Miserables. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company: 1862. Google e-book.
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. 1999. Dir. George Lucas. Perf. Jake Lloyd .
Lucasfilm, 2001. DVD
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. 2002. Dir. George Lucas. Perf. Hayden
Christensen. Lucasfilm, 2002. DVD
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. 2005. Dir. George Lucas. Perf. Hayden
Christensen. Lucasfilm, 2005. DVD.
Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi 2004. Dir. George Lucas. Perf. David Prowse,
James Earl Jones, Sebastian Shaw. Lucasfilm, 2005. DVD

Matthew S.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Deception Of Reality

To the tune of The Sound of Silence by Paul Simon

Hello journal my old friend

I've come to write in you again

Because a truth softly thought

Left its meaning while I was waking

And the reality that was shown

In my mind still remains

Within the deception of reality

In a crowded room, I worked alone

Round cubicles with muted tones

Under the glare of fluorescent lamps

I threw my trash to old and oppressed

When my eye was blinded by the flash

Of the computer crash that spilled the truth

And found the deception of reality

And in the dim image I saw

Ten million I.P.'s, maybe more

People texting without thinking

People blogging without reason

People making reality shows that

Were preplanned and no one dared

Disturb the deception of reality

"Blind," said I, "you cannot see

Deception like a shadow grows

Hear the truth so you might see reality

Turn around and see the light behind you."

But truth, like melting snowflakes fell

And drown in the wells of deception

And the people friended and updated

To the deceptive god they made

And the truth flashed out its warning

In the reality it was revealing

And insight said, "The words of truth are written

on the humble minds and loving hearts

not whispered by deceivers of reality.

Matthew S.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Amazing Water Trick! How to Suspend Water Without a Cup!

Some science experiments are just worth making a mess over. This just might be one of them. Depends somewhat on my wife. I might be in the driveway doing this on the folding table.