Why are we stuck with mediocre progress in the 21st century?

Thanks for Ubuntu Mark! :-)

My brother and I were debating progress. I am quite frustrated that technological innovation in this millennium seems so stalled. Sure we’ve had the PC laptop cellphone tablet and smart phone, wiring us all together, and they’re innovative and great. But they’re basically just consumptive devices we use to shovel sensationalized images and sounds into our orifices to stimulate our ever-dulled senses.

Great innovators of the past brought us philosophy, plumbing, democracy, unlimited food, equality, the weekend, space travel, a leisure society, and so many paradigm shifts that jumped us forward in massive leaps. We are long long overdue for the next.

Perhaps we are mired in the early stage of the information age. We drown in it every day. We spend many of them just caught up in the torrential flood of information with our jaws agape.

Perhaps cycles are required. Perhaps it is the age of the right-wing redneck, pushing progress backwards in hopes that he can consume and destroy a lion’s share of resources just because his great grandfather did. That age will certainly not last too long before it implodes on itself.

Perhaps there are too many of us, and we’ve come so far that any one of us would have to spend a lifetime just to become an expert on the existing knowledge in a specific area, with very little chance to extend it.

But I still believe each of us should try to contribute. Our individual passion is our greatest strength.

Here’s an awkward debate on the subject

Mark Shuttleworth says it right: “Individuals are innovators”!!! He’s got it! You have to be a crazy, obsessive, arrogant, megalomaniacal wacko and drive well past where any reasonable group of people would go.

Easy to destroy, hard to build

My brother Dan and I had a spirited debate as I drove back from Winston-Salem today. He started off with a conspiracy theory (here we go…) that Obama was “briefed” for two days shortly after being elected, and was somehow influenced to do a 180 on all his campaign promises. I was lit and ready to go at it… Read More

A specific example of broadband frustration in North Carolina

Governor Perdue,

My newly-purchased house is 700′ from the road where Time Warner’s cable runs. Because they have a virtual monopoly, they want me to pay $3250 to run cable to my house before they will ALLOW me to pay for service on top of that.

I would like to express my outrage that you did not veto the recent bill that restricts municipalities’ ability to develop broadband solutions. It is abominable that you vocalized your disapproval of the bill but did not find the backbone to veto it. Many of us contacted you with our concerns but were not heard. Special interests have taken further root as a result, and our state will pay the price and lose further technological footing. I am now directly, severely impacted – along with many others. The Time Warner rep claimed that they are getting many people to actually pay these kind of extortionist fees to fund the build out of their own network – further increasing their monopoly.

Broadband service is of such fundamental importance to our communities that we must find a way to do better. Not vetoing the municipality restriction bill was a major step backwards for us all. I hope you can find a way to move us forward again.

I’ll be posting this to my blog, facebook, etc. and getting the word out wherever and whenever possible.

Thanks for listening,
Michael

Addendum: Yes I am using Time Warner services to host this blog. Yes they have provided me with great service for 11 years. But some corollary of Murphy’s Law applies to broadband access. It should be getting better and cheaper at a faster rate than their monopoly allows.

Would I be writing this if I happened to get an easy service hookup? Probably not. But I did send a previous note to the Governor when I heard about the ridiculous bill.

The bottom line is that broadband internet access is too fundamental a need of the people to be left to a few corporations and a bought-off government. Just like with other basic utilities, the people’s government should ensure that everything is in place, including free market competition as well as government oversight, to provide the people with the best-possible service over shared resources like easements and lines. Municipal broadband, where the people come together to create something good, is an excellent means to that end.

9.5 Beastie Boys: Make Some Noise

Yes I am a Beastie Boys fanboy. As Johnny Cash said so well, “until you know my shame you really don’t know me”. I grew up on New Jersey playgrounds, cursing (not “cussing”, that’s what rednecks in FL did) my head off since I was ten. To me, my brother’s actual name was jerk-off. I just didn’t know any better. I hit punk right on the mark around the age of 12 – I remember my dad walking into my room and hearing someone on my favorite NY radio station say something rude and what in the world was I listening to and me replying “I don’t listen to the words, just the music”. New wave was next and swept us all up, smashing molds and bringing sweet melodies and new sonic fabrics. And then came hip hop in the form of Run DMC and Beastie Boys and Public Enemy, and it was loud and strong, and continued to rip the fabric of everything that came before it – literally in this case. The industrial music of Ministry and Meat Beat Manifesto was the last great one for me. From then on, everything else was just recycling – Grunge, Shoegaze, LoFi, whatever – I’d heard it all before.

I guess this is the definition of being old. I have become one of those “classic rock” fanatics that I never understood during my youth. But when we were young, each of those early changes meant something to us, ripping off the lid on something brand new and knocking us to the floor, winded.

And I could feel my roots when I turned up the Beastie Boys. They are smart-ass New Yorkers with ADD. Like FAMILY. :P

If your sophomoric sense of humor remains intact, you may continue to enjoy their craft. This album went through extra refinement (due to MCA’s cancer battle, keep on good man) like a fine wine. Peace out to life-lovin’ cancer-fightin’ vegan-tryin’ Yauch, who directed this joint… WARNING: EXPLICIT CONTENT, this is not for women or children or anyone else with any sense or maturity whatsoever. Self-parody at its finest. And check the crew they brought for this one, stellar.

Big Weekend

Had a great weekend, starting a little early on Thursday with dinner with Sammy at the Raleigh Times. A great veggie burger with great toppings (avacado, grilled mushrooms and onions, lettuce, tomato, ketchup and mustard, mmm), and the beer list is to die for. I had a Belgian triple – three times the hops and barley of a normal brew. It was delicious and effective, one beer was plenty. Then we went to Escazu, the chocolatier I’ve been obsessing over for a year or more. They have the best bars at Whole Foods (out of 200 or so, it seems), and the actual shop, on Glenwood Avenue, is adorable – a converted house with a display case full of painstakingly handcrafted chocolate delights. Then it was time for Halloween, and we partied like twentysomethings. You’ll have to hook up on Facebook to see all the good semi-clean fun we had. :> Except for this one blurry picture I found on my iPhone…

Bareback!

This past weekend soccer was rained out by a tropical storm, so we switched to blueberry pancakes and board games. After a game of Carcasonne (with Andrea as the sneaky victor), the weather cleared up. The girls took me to the stable and I got a turn on Sundance, bareback! Takes a lot of balance! I stuck to trotting. Maybe next time I’ll put a little more speed on. :>