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Thursday, Jul 31st

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Alex Baer: Faith, Hope, and That Itchy Sensation

hopeIt'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.

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Alex Baer: Dinosaurs, Cello Loops, and the Avalanche of Awe

celloThere'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.

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Alex Baer: Pop Goes Another Resolution

new years resolutionA 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.

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Alex Baer: Rutting Around for Reason... and Reasons

choicesWe are creatures of ruts.  Ruts keep us self-regulated, self-herded, and auto-piloted, functioning along a thin line of choices -- except, over time, they are no longer choices.  These ruts may have been choices once, but are now only pre-set governors of our possible responses to life, captured and restricted by our previously made decisions and choices.

It's hard to see a rut when you're in it.  Not looking, and not seeing, are part of the energy-saving bargain of a rut:  There's no need to waste time or energy on considering options, making decisions, testing the waters, or re-considering steps.

Not much of a bargain, though, when all one can do is plod on forward, shlep backwards, or freeze in place.  Creative types will occasionally look up from the confines of the rut, and even jump up now and then, prairie-dogging, office-cubicle-worker-style, to get the lay of the land.

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Black Box Voting: New Voter List Solution; Hacking Update

Bev HarrisOne 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.

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Bob Alexander: Same Sh*t...Different Bun

e-cigarettesLet’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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Bruce Enberg: Democracy is falling off the Edge

net neutralityFrom 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.

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