Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Bush's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Destroys Constitutional Separation of Powers

January 30, 2007

In another example of the Bush Administration's post modern approach; the brain trust is exploiting another seemingly progressive issue to propel it's reactionary agenda.

The plan is layed out in an article in the New York Times by Robert Pear on January 30, 2007.
(NYT's has changed the other end of the link since this was published.)

In an executive order the President has directed every agency of the federal government to form a regulatory policy office run by an Administration appointee.

While the NYT article high-lights the President's use of executive privilege to appoint the new agencies regulatory Czar; the issue goes beyond that, to the concept of Separation of Powers - one of the foundations of the republic.

The Whitehouse wants to apply a new statistical theory that studies the specific effect of policy on the economy - in real time.

The new theory, called Experimental Economics will be put to the test by economists working together with biologists, sociologists, and psychologists who will create a virtual model of the economy on a Super Computer. Using incredibly fast processors and gargantuan memory size
in conjunction with gaming and search engine industry software, they plan to model the economy in four dimensions. The model is then to be used to calculate the effect of policy in specific enterprise.

Susan E. Dudley an Experimental Economist, is Bush's pick to head up the "Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs" which will be added on to the "Office of Management and Budget".

The NYT again:

"President Bush first nominated Ms. Dudley last August. The nomination died in the Senate, under a barrage of criticism from environmental and consumer groups, which said she had been hostile to government regulation. Mr. Bush nominated her again on Jan. 9.

With Democrats in control, the Senate appears unlikely to confirm Ms. Dudley. But under the Constitution, the president could appoint her while the Senate is in recess, allowing her to serve through next year."

The new technology will have a direct impact on citizens; Robert Pear writes,

"..business executives and consumer advocates said the administration was particularly concerned about rules and guidance issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration."

The Bush executive order creates a lever by which an administration can express it's political vision. The computer program only spits out numbers; but the new regulatory offices will make political decisions based on the new and better information. In itself this is a good thing - the rule of law in the enlightened society is supposed to be rooted in empirical science.

The Congress must act however to counter the power grab by the Whitehouse. The intent of legislation will be interpreted, exclusively, by the executive branch through the administrative changes. Congress - the branch of government that votes the money and the law - would seem to have as much, if not more interest, in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Climate Change, Ocean Currents: New Species of Fish?

From National Geographic News

..a frilled shark swims at Japan's Awashima Marine Park on Sunday, January 21, 2007. Sightings of living frilled sharks are rare, because the fish generally remain thousands of feet beneath the water's surface. Spotted by a fisher on January 21, this 5.3-foot (160-centimeter) shark was transferred to the marine park, where it was placed in a seawater pool... ..the "living fossil" died hours after it was caught.

—Ted Chamberlain

Could this years El Nino, or changing patterns of Ocean currents caused by climate change have 'funneled' this fish into shallow waters?


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Indonesian Government Creating Panic Over N5N1 Virus

Why is the Indonesian Government sending out the troops and culling poultry across the island nation?

Indonesia asks troops to fight bird flu
January 27, 2007

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered the military chief to deploy soldiers to help fight the disease, Cabinet Secretary Sudi Silalahi told reporters.

The sense of alarm was highlighted by the country's welfare minister earlier in the day.

"Even though our continued effort is giving some significant progress, we are still on highest alert," Aburizal Bakrie, said at a ceremony to receive
100,000 sets of protective equipment donated by the United States.

Later in the article:

Experts fear the more the virus spreads in birds, the greater the chances it might mutate into a form that causes a flu pandemic in humans. Millions of people could die.
© 2007 Reuters

And from Yahoo! News.com, a little more on the level of anxiety;

Indonesia on highest alert over bird flu: minister

JAKARTA (Reuters) After a spike in cases this year, Indonesia moved to ban backyard poultry in the capital and surrounding provinces...

Millions of backyard fowl live in close proximity to humans and keeping backyard chickens is ingrained in Indonesia's culture...

The bold highlights are added.

The "100,000 sets of protective equipment donated by the United States" seems to be the impetus for all the head lines this week. To this date there is no evidence that the Bird Flu can jump to humans except through direct and prolonged contact with infected birds.

So the specific, donating of protective equipment, which created the media interest, hides the broader context; Why all the Hoopla over Bird Flu in the first place?

From the UN body, the WTO which is studying the outbreaks World Wide notes in this Question and Answer format, that there is no evidence of human to human transmission;

What is the significance of limited human-to-human transmission?

Though rare, instances of limited human-to-human transmission of H5N1 and other avian influenza viruses have occurred in association with outbreaks in poultry and should not be a cause for alarm. In no instance has the virus spread beyond a first generation of close contacts or caused illness in the general community. Data from these incidents suggest that transmission requires very close contact with an ill person. Such incidents must be thoroughly investigated but – provided the investigation indicates that transmission from person to person is very limited – such incidents will not change the WHO overall assessment of the pandemic risk. There have been a number of instances of avian influenza infection occurring among close family members. It is often impossible to determine if human-to-human transmission has occurred since the family members are exposed to the same animal and environmental sources as well as to one another.

Here's a different point of view from The Guardian Unlimited

So who's really to blame for bird flu?

A stream of statements and strategy documents from august bodies such as the World Health Organisation reinforce the "wild birds and backyard poultry are the problem" plot-line. This must come as music to the ears of the intensive poultry producers, who heartily resent the good press that organic and free-range poultry generally receive. For once it is free-range birds that everyone is worried about, not the caged laying hens and tightly packed broiler birds...

The fear mongering going on in the 'Hit and Run' media is predictable; it sells copy and is a distraction from real problems, as the Gaurdian points out, like industrial animal production.

Real Problems like these ones; pointed out in a good sum up of the current
Science and Business interests at play around this thing;

Signs of the Times

Dr. Pushkar Kulkarni
Bachelor of Veterinary Science & Animal Husbandry (Bombay Veterinary College)
M.Sc. (Toxicology),
Contact: India (Res.): 91-251-2489216
E.mail: kk_pushkar@yahoo.com, kk_pushk

Hi everyone,

First of all, I would like to tell every one that bird flu is nothing but money generating gimmick of certain companies/politicians. So far only 55 people have died of so-called bird flu (7000 died by lighting last year alone) so are we having a lighting epidemic, rubbish? These death were due to Respiratory sym, but not confirmed for H5N1. How many people handling birds have died because of diarrhea? Must be more than 55 in the last few years then we can say we are in a Salmonella epidemic???

Next, who stand to gain by all this? Roche by selling --Tamiflu. Who has the patent for Tamiflu: lesser known company Gilead. Who is the major shareholder of this company??? Can any one guess??? Donald H. Rumsfeld was chairman of the Board of Gilead Sciences, where he remained until early 2001 when he became defense secretary in Bush's Cabinet. The model suggests the parallel to the brazen corruption of Halliburton Corporation who's former CEO is Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney's company has so far gotten billions worth of US construction contracts in Iraq and elsewhere.

Who else stands to benefit? Bush campaign funders, Bilderberger spokesman Etienne F. Davignon and Reagan-Bush former secretary of state George P. Shultz, both of who are also on the board of directors of Gilead. Another member of the Bush circle is Lodewijk J.R. de Vink, who sits on the board of Hoffman-La Roche, Gilead's partner.

! In other words, bird flu will generate outrageous profits for insiders like Shultz, Rumsfled, Davignon and de Vink.

By the way what is Tamiflu (Generic name: oseltamivir phosphate)??? It's a extract from star aniseed (our very own Garam masala – curry powder) and each dose is $ 100 so even if 15% of the world have one dose then the total sale will be just $100 billion.

Since last year media started this "Tamasha" by highlighting the news! from other countries. Our Poultry Industry suffered losses due to those rumors during that year and now millions of farmers will loose their jobs & be bankrupt but only a few people will make money. I know it is going to be late & millions are going to loose their livelihood in India, Chicken is being sold at Rs 4/kg in some places. Think of the state of the Farmer & unlike other countries he is not going to be compensated (only farmers in Navapur, Nandurbar are being compensated).

So, it my sincere request to all of you that spread this information to everyone, buy, cook and eat poultry products (chicken & egg) without hesitation and try to save the livelihood of millions of poultry farmers in India. Remember that anything cooked over 70 degrees is safe.

Those who need more information are welcome to mail me at: dr_pushkar_bvc@yahoo.com.


Some people* don't think Dr. Pushkar Kulkarnis' corporate greed observations go far enough.
They are afraid this is either the early stages of a Biological Attack on Asia; or the pretext necessary to launch such an attack, without getting caught in the world of domestic public opinion.

*(This link was obtained by two search perameters on MY google: Bird Flu + Bio-war. There's lots more - including juxtaposed submissions.)

Viewers would see a natural progression of the crisis; resulting in an unending holocaust; with deniability intact.

China must be aware of this possibility but for now, they are playing along in the interests of free trade despite the exstreme end game the idea postulates. After all, they control domestic health management, and will continue to; weighing as they must, the advanced genetic science information they are recieving from the west; verses the political and economic verticies.

I'm watching with no opinion either way. Noting who benefits; Who's in a position to engineer this kind of play; Who loses.

It's good to see some qualified experts coming forward, pointing out the facts.

Dr. Henry Niman PhD. is a geneticist and owner of several money making patents and an apparently brilliant thinker, has an unorthodox way of seeing the whole thing.

A view that may be confirmed by events on the ground this year.

But not everyone agrees with Dr. Niman even though Nationaly recognized bodies such as NIAID and the WTO seem to be acting upon the good doctors suppositions.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Reviews' Jennifer Bails writes;

But Henry Niman's warnings -- sounded to the international press -- have not convinced fellow researchers. Niman's detractors refer to him as a "prophet of doom" who stands to profit from his overzealous penchant for crying "Pandemic!" without proof or proper qualifications.

Dr. Henry Niman is convinced that specific parts of the DNA in viruses can mutate independantly of the whole; and as such speed the evolution of the chemical 'keys' in the virus, increasing the liklihood of the development of 'human receptor specificity'.

A "quick leap forward" hypothesis.

His peers point out that the only segmented mutations that appear in nature are the result of human engineering, or Gene Splicing. The intensive nature of present day farming would suggest a possible vector for such a 'great leap forward'. But Genetisists point out that any such mutation towards human receptor specificity would take time, and a lot of luck.

Here are some skeptical voices in the scientific community as concerns Dr. Niman's thoeries:

Wendy Orent Bio anthropologist with a Ph.D from the University of Michigan from an article published in the New Republic Online

The expert predictions don't take into account the evolutionary events necessary to turn an avian flu virus into a mass human killer. In ignoring the evolution of infectious disease, flu experts, science writers, and public health officials are leading us down the same path we've followed too many times before...

Dr. Anthony Fauci Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) M.D. Cornell University Medical College

One migratory bird does not a pandemic make.

Dr. Marc Siegel, an internist and associate professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.

The fear is out of proportion to the current risk.

Flu virologist Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, a microbiology professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. A part of the team of scientists who recreated the deadly 1918 flu strain

Focusing only on H5N1 ... I think is a little bit shortsighted.

Daniel Perez, an assistant professor at Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine

The chances of getting hit by avian influenza from wild birds is the same as getting hit by a lightning bolt.

Dr. Richard Schabas, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario:

Those pundits who have been predicting disaster all this time, I think it's time for them to take a good hard look at what has happened and what hasn't happened, and maybe re-evaluate their assessment.


Friday, January 26, 2007

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

Every letter of the English alphabet is used in this Pangram. Read from left to right, top to bottom; follow the dots back up to the sentence to confirm.

This sentence is used to make sure the keys on typewriters and computer keyboards are working.


Mobile phone use 'linked to tumour'

Long-term users of mobile phones are significantly more likely to develop a certain type of brain tumour on the side of the head where they hold their handsets, according to new research.

A large-scale study found that those who had regularly used mobiles for longer than 10 years were almost 40 per cent more likely to develop nervous system tumours called gliomas near to where they hold their phones.

The new research, to be published later this year in the International Journal of Cancer, is the second study to suggest increased risks of specific types of brain tumours in regions close to where mobile phone emissions enter the head.

However, a number of other studies have found no increased health risks associated with mobile phone use.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Senator Chuck Hagel says Iraq War is "A Grinder."

Apparently, The money means nothing when you've been 'In Country'.

THE ANGRY ONE: Republican senator Chuck Hagel sounds off

Reprint of an Article from STYLE.com

THE ANGRY ONE Republican senator Chuck Hagel sounds off on the sorry state of Congress, the president’s lies, and the vote for war that he now regrets

(To begin, - they're talking about a Draft Bill to allow the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Draft that the Whitehouse is proposing must pass in the Senate and the House to become law.-mh)

Q)It’s incredible that you had to ask for that.

It is incredible. That’s what I said to Andy Card. Said it to Powell, said it to Rice. Might have even said it to the president. And finally, begrudgingly, they sent over a resolution for Congress to approve. Well, it was astounding. It said they could go anywhere in the region.

Q)It wasn’t specific to Iraq?

Oh no. It said the whole region! They could go into Greece or anywhere. I mean, is Central Asia in the region? I suppose! Sure as hell it was clear they meant the whole Middle East. It was anything they wanted. It was literally anything. No boundaries. No restrictions.

Q)They expected Congress to let them start a war anywhere they wanted in the Middle East?

Yes. Yes. Wide open. We had to rewrite it. Joe Biden, Dick Lugar, and I stripped the language that the White House had set up, and put our language in it.

Q)But that should also have triggered alarm bells about what they really wanted to do.

Well, it did. I’m not defending our votes; I’m just giving a little history of how this happened. You have to remember the context of when that resolution was passed. This was about a year after September 11. The country was still truly off balance. So the president comes out talking about “weapons of mass destruction” that this “madman dictator” Saddam Hussein has, and “our intelligence shows he’s got it,” and “he’s capable of weaponizing,” and so on.

Q)And producing a National Intelligence Estimate that turned out to be doctored.

Oh yeah. All this stuff was doctored. Absolutely. But that’s what we were presented with. And I’m not dismissing our responsibility to look into the thing, because there were senators who said, “I don’t believe them.” But I was told by the president—we all were—that he would exhaust every diplomatic effort.

Q)You were told that personally?

I remember specifically bringing it up with the president. I said, “This has to be like your father did it in 1991. We had every Middle East nation except one with us in 1991. The United Nations was with us.”

Q)Did he give you that assurance, that he would do the same thing as his father?

Yep. He said, “That’s what we’re going to do.” But the more I look back on this, the more I think that the administration knew there was some real hard question whether he really had any WMD. In January of 2003, if you recall, the inspectors at the IAEA, who knew more about what Saddam had than anybody, said, “Give us two more months before you go to war, because we don’t think there’s anything in there.” They were the only ones in Iraq. We hadn’t been in there. We didn’t know what the hell was in there. And the president wouldn’t do it! So to answer your question—Do I regret that vote? Yes, I do regret that vote.

Q)And you feel like you were misled?

I asked tough questions of Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld before the war: How are you going to govern? Who’s going to govern? Where is the money coming from? What are you going to do with their army? How will you secure their borders? And I was assured every time I asked, “Senator, don’t worry, we’ve got task forces on that, they’ve been working, they’re coordinated,” and so on.

Q)Do you think they knew that was false?

Oh, I eventually was sure they knew. Even before we actually invaded, I had a pretty clear sense of it—that this administration was hell-bent on going to war in Iraq.

Q)Even if it meant deceiving Congress?

That’s right.

Q)Congress has a lot less leverage to stop the war, now that it’s begun.

Well, we still have power, starting with appropriations, oversight, the power of the people, the polls. We represent the voters.

Q)It’s indirect, though.

It is indirect, if you’re looking to stop the war. We’re already in it, we’re hugely invested, half a trillion dollars, over 3,000 dead…

Q)And the decision to withhold funding is a tough one.

That’s right, because it can be seen as political. It is touchy. Nobody ever wants to be accused of cutting a canteen from the troops, so you get into that murky area: Are you hurting the troops by cutting off funding?

Q)Where are you on that?

I think we need to exercise oversight of the funding. The president is going to come up with probably $100 billion in “emergency supplemental” funding for the war. That bill needs to get oversight. The last four years, we haven’t had any oversight over these “emergency” appropriations. Let’s examine it. Let’s pull it apart: “What’s this 40 million for?”

Q)That seems so slow and bureaucratic.

It’s frustrating. Especially when you’re losing young Americans every day. We just keep throwing them into the fire.

Q)Does it seem like the president is basically daring you to cut funding?

He is. He feels, as I think a number of Republicans do, that it would be a disastrous thing politically. These are bright people. They understand politics about as well as anyone. President Bush has been elected twice. Some might argue that he wasn’t elected the first time. With the popular vote, he actually wasn’t. But he’s very savvy politically. He’s never going to stand for election again, and he believes this is right for the country. The president is trying to do something very difficult: sustain a war without the support of the American people.

Q)Are you especially sensitive about these wartime decisions because you’ve been to war?

Certainly going through combat in Vietnam and seeing war up close, seeing friends wounded and killed in front of you, you cannot help but be framed by that experience. When I got to Vietnam, I was a rifleman. I was a private, about as low as you can get. So my frame of reference is very much geared toward the guy at the bottom who’s doing the fighting and dying. Jim Webb and I are the only ones in the Senate who had that experience. John McCain served his country differently—he spent five years as a prisoner of war. John Kerry was on a boat for about three months, maybe less. I don’t think my experience makes me any better, but it does make me very sober about committing our nation to war. We should never again get into a fiasco like we did in Vietnam. And if we are going to use force, we better make damn sure it is in the national interest.

Q)Which is essentially the “Powell Doctrine.” Do you and Colin Powell still talk?

We’re very good friends.

Q)Do you think it’s hard for him to keep silent these days?

I think it is very hard for him. I think he is greatly tormented by all of this.

Q)Does it surprise you that so many people in the administration who supported this war, didn’t have any military experience?

I have never doubted the motives of those who wanted to go to war so badly. I don’t question their moral standing.

Q)But you might wonder if they really understand what war is.

Look, it has not gone unnoticed that President Bush served a little time in the National Guard. Secretary Rice never served. Wolfowitz never served. Feith never served. Cheney had five deferments. Rumsfeld might have done something at one time. But the only guy that had any real experience was Colin Powell. And they cut him off. That’s just a fact. That’s not subjective. That’s the way it was.

Q)Does being a veteran also make you sensitive to the administration’s approach to interrogation and the use of secret military prisons?

It does, because that’s not who America is. We have always, certainly since World War II, had the moral high ground in the world. But these secret prisons and the treatment at Guantánamo destroy all of that. We ought to shut down Guantánamo. There shouldn’t be any secret prisons. Why do we need those? What are we afraid of? Here we are, the greatest nation the world has ever seen. Why can’t we let the Red Cross into our prisons? Why do we deny they exist? Why do we keep them locked up? What are we afraid of? Why aren’t we dealing with Iran and Syria?

Q)What about civil liberties? Does it concern you that the administration has been searching bank records and personal mail, and listening to international phone calls, without warrants?

Very much. We have always been able to protect national security without sacrificing the liberties of the individual. Once you lose those rights, it’s very hard to get them back. There have been arguments made that if we just give up a few rights, it will be easier to preserve our national security. That should never, ever happen. When you take office, you take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. That is your first responsibility.

Q)Is it strange for you to be allied on these issues with the anti-war left, which is not exactly your constituency?

I think these issues are starting to redefine the political landscape. You are going to see alliances and relationships develop that are based on this war. You are going to see a reorientation of political parties.

Q)You don’t hear very many politicians say that both sides of an issue are reasonable these days.

We are living through one of the most transformative periods in history. If we are going to make it, we need a far greater appreciation and respect for others, or we’re going to blow up mankind. Look at what zealotry can do. Religious zealotry has been responsible for killing more people than any other thing. Look at the Middle East today. It’s all about religion. We need to move past those divisions and learn to be tolerant and respectful. If we go out there full of intolerance and hatred, we’ll never make it.


Buisiness As Usual In US Senate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a Democratic bill to increase the federal minimum wage

Senate Democratic leaders have indicated they would be willing to go along with some sort of tax relief if necessary to win approval.

But Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts led the charge against attaching tax breaks to the bill, saying in the past decade the U.S. Congress has provided billions of dollars in tax relief to corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

"Why can't we do just one thing for minimum wage workers? No strings attached, no giveaways for the powerful?," Kennedy asked.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Consumers Helping Clean Up

Hundreds of people are continuing to steal beached cargo from the stricken ship MSC Napoli on the coast of Britain despite Police warnings.

Over the last two days scavengers have descended on the beach in Branscombe, Devon, England, taking away goods that included BMW motorbikes...

Maybe, if your caught on the beach 'Cleaning Up'...

..your Sentence should be...

..you have to help clean up.

Pictures courtesy of Netscape


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

'AS IT HAPPENS' must have Marshall McLuhan Spinning In His Grave.

I've been listening to CBC Radio's As It Happens for 30 years. Barbara Frum was weaving the story back then, with Alan Maitland drawing the pictures with voice.

Over the years many great hosts have sat in those chairs; many great producers and writers have created magic behind the scenes.

"It takes a special talent to deliver a radio script..." says the current announcers biography. Barbara Budd does not have that talent.

Perhaps the writing staff can't compose; the narrative is usually so badly butchered I can't tell if the writing was good or not. The trips-ups, flubs and miss-takes of rhythm are too much to bear.

They say a great actor can't save a bad script - but a good script can save a bad actor; perhaps in this case it's a mixture of both the bads.

Carol Off doesn't help. The introduction to the production says, "As It Happens is like taking a trip around the world five nights a week." It has become one of those Red-Eyes you wish you'd never booked. The hour and a half used to fly by - when the people who worked on the show understood the reference in the introduction to Marshall McLuhan's Global Village.

Carol Off treats her role as "medium-intermediate" as if it's an old stale formula. Instead of taking us on a trip around the world, she convinces us with every burdensome, half-baked, lineal question that the show isn't really modern at all.

The guest is left telling the whole story from beginning to end while Carol waits for a pause where she can interject one of a list of questions the team came up in the pre-production meeting; trying to make apparent some pseudo-intellectual point.

Happily, there is a solution to all this. In August I heard two masters at work on the show: Helen Mann and C. David Johnson.

Really enjoyed their work this summer, a special team.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Researchers have installed a molecular engine into a "car" just a few billionths of a metre long

Image: Takashi Sasaki/Rice University

14 April 2006
NewScientist.com news service
Tom Simonite

"Jim Tour and colleagues at Rice University in Houston, US, built a chassis and wheels for a nano-car from organic molecules...

The nano-car's molecular motor contains a pair of bonded carbon molecules that rotate in one direction if illuminated by a specific wavelength of light."

12:18 22 January 2007
NewScientist.com news service
Tom Simonite

"..researchers at the Free University of Berlin in Germany and the Center for Material Elaboration & Structural Studies in Toulouse, France"...

..using an electron microscope, have produced images of the nanowheels in action...
"..hundreds of these "nanowheels" were sprayed onto a sheet of copper. The researchers then used the tip of a scanning tunnelling electron microscope (STEM) to push individual molecules across a copper surface."

As soon as a Nano-movie of the light powered Nanowheels or a Nanocar become available I will load it here at SCIENCE BLOGS, and at the fast breaking site MICHAEL HOLLOWAY'S FilterBlogs.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Iran Shoots Down US Spy Plane

For what it's worth, a take from Terhan...

FARS News agency(IRAN)
TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Iranian military troops have shot down a spy plane of the US army during the last few days, an Iranian MP said here on Tuesday.

Bush end game?


Super Bowl Marketing on DIGG

On January 16.2007 an article appeared on DIGG, the democratically edited news site.

This DIGG story placement was a carefully engineered piece; it was designed to create a buzz Diggers think they are joining.

This is a new type of marketing campaign developed by SEOmoz.org called a Viral Video Product Placement. This is how it works...

This is the piece that appeared on DIGG:

I'm Blogging! Pay Attention to Me!

Rand sent me the above comic strip and instructed me to let it inspire me (it seems he enjoys giving me the occasional homework assignment), and the first thing I thought of when I read it was, "Why do people blog?"

The Title of the piece draws you in; people like to read about themselves or connect with a group of people like themselves. The first line promises a cartoon by clicking on the story. Now your at SEOmoz.org and viola the Cartoon:

The site looks like an ordinary new-business blog site, inter-office chatter. The cartoon is funny, so you read the piece about blogging.

It turns out the community of people here are really nice. You find out that Someone knows Someone who's going to propose marriage during the Super Bowl! Clicking the link confirms JP is going to pop the question. Not only that, but there's some Buzz developing around this, a radio spot, an appearance on Good Morning America... ..and a marketing company is involved and "the Vanderbilt Children's Hospital will also benefit from the buzz"

The DIGG story placement was a carefully engineered piece of writing; it was designed to create the buzz they pretend you are now joining.

This is a new type of marketing campaign called a Viral Video Product Placement, according to Storybids.com the strategy plays out like this:

"the bride-to-be will be under the impression that her smart and wonderful boyfriend was able to win them and some friends a Super Bowl party (compliments of a major corporate sponsor)."

"the potential bride and groom-to-be, along with several of their closest friends, will be filmed by their corporate sponsor, enjoying the game and the product that has paid for their good time"

"suddenly the image of the groom-to-be appears on the (TV) screen (at the party). The venue filled with friends and the bride-to-be, as well as the rest of America, will be viewing the much anticipated proposal that has been building a media frenzy over the past several weeks"

"viewers will view the web address of where they can go to see the response video that was taped during and AFTER the television proposal."

To sum up the idea... the corporate and media savy 'average American guy' sets up a free corporate party during the Super Bowl , which is being filmed; then the proposal of marriage comes on the TV in the party venue - which the television audience is watching - them watch, - at the end of the spot a web address comes up. The television audience can't believe it and America rushes to their computers. The web site resolves the brides answer to the question - but not all the machinations of how it came about. The buzz could last days until we all figure out what happened around the water cooler at work.

Well, now you're ready, now you know, now you can be the smart hip one.

By the way - what is 'Super Bowl'? mh

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Before You Click SPAM...

January 15, 2007

Allison Randal at Radar O'Reilly in an article entitled "Spamonomics 101" recieved this useful bit of insight from Ken Simpson of MailChannels an Email Security Solutions Company,

Ken Simpson says:
"Those messages are sent by spammers to poison the spam filters. When someone receives a message full of gibberish and reports it as spam, the spam filters tune themselves to recognize gibberish as spam—which reduces their overall accuracy."
When your cleaning your E-mail In-box, check the content of mail you'd usually not even look at. If it's gibberish as noted above don't SPAM it; DELETE instead.

For What It's Worth, A Take From Baghdad

The following from RiverBend; a blog by an Iraqi Citizen living in Baghdad.(link in Title of posts)

"The Americans have done a fine job of working to break it(Iraq) apart. This last year has nearly everyone convinced that that was the plan right from the start. There were too many blunders for them to actually have been, simply, blunders. The 'mistakes' were too catastrophic. The people the Bush administration chose to support and promote were openly and publicly terrible- from the conman and embezzler Chalabi, to the terrorist Jaffari, to the militia man Maliki. The decisions, like disbanding the Iraqi army, abolishing the original constitution, and allowing militias to take over Iraqi security were too damaging to be anything but intentional."

I've seen bigger 'mistakes' executed in war. Myopic blunders in war become catastrophes on the ground very quickly.

On the other hand a Strategy of Tensions designed towards a larger war that the US Army could win is not a new idea.

For what it's worth, that's a take from Baghdad.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Web 2.0 (refined)

Originally published December 16, 2006

Content is not worth much in this new sphere - but I think this was bound to happen anyway. In the old sphere of Broadcast Television which turns 60 years old in America this year, the amount of content amassed by producers is mind-boggling. Supply and demand economics function in the world of media too. Already this content is being recycled into history productions; every new-year we see The Year in Review shows that re-use content from the day before at one point; popular culture 'retros' the recent past with an almost a scientific precision. As the content silo gets higher, old content becomes new again - so supply will increasingly outweigh demand. Content will get cheaper and cheaper until it is worth about as much as it costs to make - which is declining.

Network television created a need for the remote control; we all know one voice above others in a conversation can be annoying, not worth much at all. But we also know a conversation where people are listening to each other can build nations. New media applications enable the voices in a conversation among equals. Applications that help everyone become producers is not the end, it is the Road to a new world.

Web 2.0 is a vision of where we are on that Road. I believe we are at the point in the Road where uni-directional media ceases to exist.

The lessons learned in the first generation of mass media can show the way forward. The thing that makes television work is the magic of story telling and the fascination with the medium it's being told through - an application of imaging craft that effectively illustrates a magical story.

Young audience are taught and are socially conditioned for lineal thinking; the Story through magic media is mesmerizing.

Now, with all things on demand - the challenge is to make new again the fascination. The theory goes, an application of imaging craft to tell a story is a synergy of three elements: video, audio and story; now the forth and fifth element is introduced to the experience; You the watcher adding content; and the Other, watching You adding content, adding content also. So production, going forward will more and more be self producing by the(not viewer) participants.

Content will be cheaper to make and to buy; the profit margins will be in Interactive Content Interfaces, the gadgets like the Apple iPhone and the pc by IBM. When applications become like toasters and cars or in other words 'infinitely friendly' - (which will happen over time through increasing Tech 'IQ' and the better engineered interfaces and a familiarity with the Road we're all on) - manipulation of it will become autonomic like breathing or watching TV. The engineering of friendly technology is being driven forward brilliantly today, with only a tiny part of the potential market in play. New gyro-game-controllers that bring the gaming experience into the physical world; music production and recording; publishing interfaces for spread sheets, text and photo and now live motion production and distribution are making media truly interactive. Verbal interface is on the horizon.

Tailoring applications to serve the clients manipulation arts is the key to a profitable business model. Grouping tools, types of content, accessibility and aesthetics in an Interactive Content Interface will be important. More important may be understanding of who the client is and Branding particular Interactive Content Interfaces to maximize specific market segments.

Tim O'Reilly at O'Reilly Radar who's group coined the term Web 2.0; thinks all these applications will end up as down loadable widgets from cyber space, rather than applications you will hold in your computer; at any rate, all must be inter-lockable and available on demand as tools in a fluid manipul-space that is accessible.

More importantly Tim O'Reilly points out that great applications get better the more people use them. Collective intelligence will create new applications and ways of linking them.

(For example the feed back loop in Google's search engine that tailors your search to your history of searches is wonderful. Tag Clouds offer visualizations of subject content for an article or entire blog. Blog Logs network web sites that have similar web search patterns.)

Advertising space sold on these Interactive Content Interfaces will continue to be the profit engine as applications and perhaps this global computer Tim O'Reilly envisions, are developed. The old industrial-tangent business model, those who make hand held devices or table top 'things' and market them to a large middle class will underpin new business in the short term. The value of this Web 2.0 Road we're on comes as researchers link better, communicate better and solve problems faster.

A great example of this is the project to find a solution to the grand unified theory, a problem so complex it demands this new technology.

For developers of new business, content should be seen as the board in a 'board' game - it sits there and does nothing - the fun is in learning the tactics, faster, better or different than the other players who gather to play it.

If the end user can manipulate the game by combining tools and content in their own way, the game story takes on an algorithm of complexity like real life.

New business models should enable the end user to manipulate information or content. Link new applications in combination that allow them to manipulate content in ways the developer hadn't considered. Like the wrench in a Socket set - no matter what size bolt you want to turn there's a Socket(application) that snaps onto the wrench(interface). One size fits all; or in this case; All applications fit one interface(and all interfaces).

All applications should 'snap' into place like Leggo or work together like a Mechano Set. For example, the 13 year old can: synthesize a sound he recorded; added it to a video; that plays only after his Sister triggers the motion detector; that activates the web cam; and the face recognition software; that then chooses and runs the video he knows will scare her out of the room.

Or not.

Update February 27 2007:

The correct word is "repurposed"