Thursday, November 27, 2003

The Fall of My Dictatorship

In a bold move, a people's democratic collective has formed to seize power over the Activist Network project.

The formal transition of power to the collective is scheduled to take place when the current dictator, Grant Neufeld, steps down at the end of this year.

This non-violent coup - prompted by the outgoing dictator - is expected to see a radical transformation of the administration and development of the Network after years of dictatorial tyranny under Neufeld's rule. One gleeful participant might have said: "At long last, an end to the suffering is in our grasp. The power is being taken into the many hands of our people's participatory democratic collective."

The transition is not expected to be entirely without difficulties. A spokesperson for the outgoing dictator stated "We expect there to be some delays in the functioning of the system during the transition period as the current administration is phased out and the new administration 'learns the ropes'."

In an effort to dispel any notions of sabotage on the part of the outgoing regime, Dictator Neufeld has ordered all his minions to cooperate fully in the transition process and extended a formal statement of apology for difficulties with the system during the change over.

(Noting that Neufeld is the only human worker under the outgoing regime, some have concluded that by "minions" he is referring to his computer equipment. This view has led to a call in some quarters for a program of independent psychiatric care, or at least a decent vacation, for the fallen leader.)

After the historic meeting where the time-table for handing over power was set, the teary-eyed dictator was sent walking off, alone and powerless, into the night.

Also seen on the Activist Network.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

The threat of DHMO!

There's much to learn about the dangers of DHMO [Traduzione italiana, Deutsche Übersetzung] (Another source).

There's even a fringe group who are actually encouraging the use of DHMO. Takes all kinds, I guess. Fortunately, there are groups (NCCAD, Coalition to Ban Dihydrogen Monoxide) working against the prevalence of DHMO in modern society.(For those who might ask, yes I understand the chemical composition of DHMO. I did take some chemistry in university.)

Friday, November 21, 2003

Abuse of language comes as no surprise

Word Pirates is a service dedicated to the reclaiming of words and phrases that have been misused and abused by "marketers, politicians and other short-sighted, self-interested, sticky-fingered people".

I suggest things like calling an unprovoked slaughter of Iraqis "liberation and democratization" need to be challenged...

Thursday, November 20, 2003

The height of street art

Kurt Wenner has done some amazing street paintings.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Is there a bright side to all this?

Wow. Looking at all my postings today as one batch, I noticed that they're quite negative. There's a lot of bad stuff going on in the world.

But, I'm actually extremely optimistic.

Really.

There are some tremendous successes occurring in efforts to bring about social justice. Masses of people are starting to recognize the situation of the world - and many of them are actually trying to do something about it.

"Saving the world" doesn't require everyone to become a 'hardcore activist'. It just requires that a majority of people do a little bit to make the world better.

Alberta's Bill 43 - from the Ministry Against Education

The Parkland Institute has published an article explaining some of the very bad elements contained in Bill 43. Basically, the Alberta Government is trying to get rid of accessibility and quality in post-secondary education, and replace them with profits for elites.

Color me shocked. (yeah, right)

Electronic Voting is a corrupt disaster waiting to happen

It's becoming clearer and clearer that the commercial electronic voting systems being developed and deployed are a major threat to democracy.

The big name in terrible practices these days is Diebold. The Why-War? website is hosting a campaign against Diebold.

If we lose this battle, we will likely lose any semblance or possibility of democracy.

Sadly, I'm not exaggerating.

Making electoral web pages accessible

Optimization Week has a detailed article that analyses the websites of U.S. presidential contenders. In a nutshell, they're all bad for accessibility and for taking too much bandwidth to download.

Stock Market? Bad.

An Object Lesson in Investing, by Ian Williams, discusses the various evils behind the stock markets, mutual funds, and other 'investment' scams.

Monday, November 17, 2003

I see your "Factory Farming" and raise you a "GMO"

The Krafted: Genetically Krafted Foods site takes on food (or, more appropriately, alleged food) mega-corp Kraft (mass purveyors of genetically modified organisms) with a Flash animation for the holiday season.

Enter the Meatrix

Free Range Graphics have produced a fun Matrix spoof: The Meatrix [Flash].

Unfortunately, no one can be just told what the Meatrix is. You have to experience it for yourself.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Custom smileys

Adam Grant has created a neat little custom smiley generator.

Seen on Boing Boing.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Laughing at the suffering of others: Conrad Black in Trouble

The Guardian reports that former Canadian Conrad Black (he renounced his citizenship a few years back in order to be able to get the title of "Lord" in the U.K.) is in a growing mess as the illegal financial doings of his company (Hollinger Inc.) are made public.

I don't think there are many in Canada who regret his departure from our fine shores.

More U.S. arrogance

The BBC reports: "UN talks on protecting the ozone layer have ended without a deal, after the US asked permission to continue using a chemical it had earlier agreed to ban."

The Lego Stork

The Making of a Brick is a flash animation that tells how Lego is produced.

Seen on Boing Boing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Reading: Escape From Slavery

Last night (late last night) I finished reading Escape From Slavery:The true story of my ten yearsin captivity—and my journey to freedom in America, by Francis Bok (with Edward Tivnan).

This is a very well-presented and deeply affecting story. I found myself having to frequently re-contextualize by explicitly remembering that he was abducted in 1986 and escaped in 1996 and that slave-raids like the one that took him are most likely still be happening today. Certainly there remain unfathomable numbers of people living in slavery throughout the world today. The American Anti-Slavery Group suggests a number (27 million) that is close to the total number of people living in Canada.

Staggering.

Since escaping to the U.S., Francis has been active with the AASG. They are a very impressive group who have had many successes in their ongoing work to end slavery in Sudan and elsewhere. Part of that work has also been significant in contributing to efforts to bring peace to Sudan, and challenging the role of foreign companies involvement in Sudan's "civil" war (such as Calgary's Talisman Energy, Inc.—see Project Sudan for more info).

Monday, November 10, 2003

My retirement is in the news

Tom Babin from FFwd called me up for an interview last Monday after he read about my impending retirement from the Activist Network on the activist.ca website. His article is in this week's issue (it hit the stands on Thursday) and is now available on the FFwd website.

There's a good picture of me in the print edition (but, unfortunately, not online).

Just to clarify, I'm retiring from the Activist Network, but certainly not from activism. I expect to remain as busy as ever with projects like the Revolutionary Knitting Circle, Calgary Dollars, anti-poverty work, and things seem to be heating up around the Lubicon again. And there are some other projects I'm not talking about publicly yet.

Regular sleep remains a distant memory...

Sunday, November 2, 2003

Internet tools for democracy

The BBC is running a new website for citizen engagement called "iCan". It lists issues, provides opportunities for people to connect with each other, offers guides and tools for activism and lobbying.
Seen on Wired.

Lawrence Lessig writes for Wired on the change in campaigning that blogs represent.