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Wednesday, Jul 30th

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Editorial

Faith, Hope, and That Itchy Sensation

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It's been a restless winter.  Our dogs move around from one of their beds to another, and rotate spots on the floor in an ambling, nomadic waltz.  The ants have been especially antsy here this year, leaking out of the ancient, pseudo-farmhouse woodwork in streams, eddies, vortices, miniature maelstroms -- a bumper crop of biblical proportions.

The two humans residing here travel back and forth unpredictably, errant with errands, steeped in to-do lists, turned to and fro by daily tidal forces, triggered by a general twitchiness, tuned to some facial-tic-producing frequency just outside the range of hearing.

When not under the spell of whatever it is that might be working on us, we sometimes ask ourselves about the nature of the possible and probable propellants involved in our fidgeting.  No answers so far.

We keep coming up with a general "hookanno" -- our shorthand for "who can know?"  We say it like "Winnebago," which is HOO-kan-no.  We sound like hoot owls, muttering in the loose, eternal wake of our room-to-room search, hunting for reasons why we might be here, on this planet, just as much as why we might be here, in this particular room.  Both are tricks of memory, I am convinced, one easier to resolve than the other.  I forget which is which.

Our house is old.  It has sections tacked on here and there.  It is growth by afterthought rather than by planning and forethought.  It was built a little at a time, by a hobbyist with more good intentions than good skills.  If Euclid lived here, he would have flat gone insane before his furniture was moved in and arranged.

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Dinosaurs, Cello Loops, and the Avalanche of Awe

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There's a certain, spectacular wonderfulness that comes from being ambushed by Beauty.  The experience can be disorienting, dazzling, dazing, delightful.  It can be stealthy and breath-taking, shorting your oxygen before you realize you're no longer continuing that familiar ebb and flow of air in and air out.

Remembering to breathe is the thing, when bushwhacked by Beauty.

It could be I am just out of practice and easily ambushed these days.  That's a possibility.  My circle of travels has been slight for the last year or so.  I have worn pairs of ruts into the roads between home and hospital, and permanently scuffed and squeaked my rubber-soled footfalls on the waxed and buffed tiles of antiseptic hallways.

My guard was down.  And, yeah, it's been a while since anything whacked me upside the head, leaving flickering lights and multicolored whirligigs exploding overhead -- like a cartoon character magically smitten with the blinding high-beams of romantic attraction, all stars-and-planets overhead.

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Pop Goes Another Resolution

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A case might be made that January is named after the various American demigods of tax calculation computer programs, weight-loss schemes, resolution daydreams, and instant makeovers of home, family, friends, wardrobes, exercise equipment, cars, relationships -- you name it.

All it takes is a little champagne and the turn of a calendar page:  Presto, there goes another resolution.  One year gone, here comes another.  Up one minute, out the next.  Now you see it, now you don't.  It's the ultimate in on-demand convenience, good intentions, and the sort of regretful, pawing, nagging lapsed morality we've perfected hereabouts -- a real natural for Life in These Here Benighted, You-nited States.

Somewhere in here, in January's brittle fidgeting, is also the routine recategorizing of accepted presents from the joyful and effervescent into the ho-hum, yawning tedium of regiftable status.  Here are stored captured holiday items once received with smiles, originally swathed in shiny paper, and are now framed with flat-lined lips and are swaddled in odious, future benevolence and stale, self-centered philanthropy to come.

January also means laughing at, and cheering on, gargantuan gladiators who bash each others brains out.  It's a fine, high-spirited return to the Colosseum, where the display of a certain thumb toward the battlefield, from a cushioned throne, meant swift and instant death.

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Black Box Voting: New Voter List Solution; Hacking Update

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By Bev Harris, Founder of Black Box Voting

One important report below, and one quick update on the website hack follows.

An award-winning voting rights innovation -- which would work great in the USA -- improved voter lists in Pakistan, where an SMS mobile phone text-messaging system got 55 million voters to check their registration and polling location; voter turnout increased, and marginalized groups like persons with disabilities measurably increased election engagement. In addition, public voter list display at over 50,000 neighborhood locations helped resolve problems on the spot and aided in detection of systemically disenfranchised groups. Voter list display engaged everyone in list scrutiny and caught several districts involved in a voter list fraud incident.  Crowd-sourcing voter list accuracy increases public engagement in elections and could easily be expanded to any country.

http://blackboxvoting.org/reports/solutions-two-innovations-improve-voter-list-accuracy-turnout-and-reduce-fraud/

Did you know that there are awards for election transparency innovations? At the Global Conference on Electoral Reforms, Pakistan won an award for its voter SMS system. Public interest organizations like Ushahidi offer cash awards for innovations that enhance public participation.

“Election integrity is a complex problem, and complex problems require a suite of solutions. Progress can best be made through incremental continuous steps. So pick the step where you want to start.” — Eva Waskell

Great details - follow the link above for sources, more info!

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Same Sh*t...Different Bun

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Let’s do a little thought experiment. Take anything you know to be a solid gold fact and have this fact not only be something you’ve researched the hell out of, but one that has also been proven over and over again to be true in your own experience.

Okay … now how would you feel when you read news articles that say the exact opposite of what you know to be true? And regardless of how many time the false talking points are debunked … they show up over and over again as if they’ve never been discredited. You might start getting the idea that there’s an agenda behind making sure disinformation trumps your known fact. This has happened so many times before I should be used to it by now, but as the tagline on the poster for Jaws IV The Revenge said, “This time it’s personal.

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Democracy is falling off the Edge

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From the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, "... consumers, of course, have options, They can go to another broadband provider if they want to reach particular edge providers or if their connections to particular edge providers have been degraded.” Replace the term 'edge providers' with 'liberal media', and you get what this is all about. The three hard right corporate owners that control all the major markets can simply tell you what sort of material you can download from, or upload to internet. The phrase, "want to reach" means explicitly that they can block content at will.

 

The Court actually used the Libertarian rational that 'competition' will protect you. Good luck finding another broadband provider that won't also block the content that disagrees with their goals of a Neo-Feudalist America. Remember, they can block either end of the connection, if not outright, by pricing you out of business, and favoring those that they approve.

 

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Chilblains, Resolutions, and Head Muscle Exercises

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A new year, and already there's all sorts of bad habits being dragged right into the middle of things.  Again.  Talk about chilblains and the winter of discontent...

For example, resolutions or no, there's the expectation that things make sense every once in a while, if only to keep the Universe somewhat honest, and to keep exercising the head muscles, too, in the rare event something comes along requiring any brain power.

This is like insisting on a periodic win in 3-Card Monte, I know.  It's a hard habit to break, having the expectations of logic, fairness, meaning...

But, every year, there's Realitus Interruptus Annoyus, in which pesky facts emerge that drag yards and scads of mud and muck across that nice, clean floor of my mind.  So much for the nice, clean slate provided by those first few arbitrary, and always promising, seconds of the New Year, too.

But, like crash-dieters crossing their fingers and booking themselves on a cheese-and-chocolate factory tour regardless,  I bought a couple of lottery tickets anyway -- even though I know the chances of winning are in the odds ballpark of getting blasted by lightning, while in a phone booth, while it plummets off a bridge at mid-span, to the arms of a flying, superhero wallaby, or some such.

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