Delicious Bookmarks for September 24th through March 8th

These are my Delicious links for September 24th through March 8th:

Delicious Bookmarks for September 2nd through September 6th

These are my Delicious links for September 2nd through September 6th:

  • Taking the Initiative: Carl Pope’s Blog – Sierra Club – This is as depressing as it is sickening. We progressive Americans who were finally so galvanized by our reaction to 8 years of Bush/Cheney coupled with the bright promise of the change Obama could bring have reverted back not just to complacency, but worse to underestimation. Just because *we* are immune to the politics of fear, does not mean they have lost their power — no matter how absurd the claims in question (whether it be death panels, Obama's racism, or Van Jones's "extremist views and coarse rhetoric"). Remember how much we underestimated George W. Bush in the 2000 election? We have to stop assuming people fact check outrageous claims and recognize that inflammatory propaganda must be stopped in it's tracks and those who perpetuate it must have their credibility undermined so they can't continue to spew it. Say something enough times (especially on tv) and too many people will start to think it's true.
  • Facebook Connect Plugin Directory – Facebook Developer Wiki – List of Facebook Connect publishing platform plugins by 3rd party developers.
  • 16 Best Facebook Connect Plugins for Your Blog, Forum, Wiki, or CMS – List of Facebook Connect plugins to add community functionality to your publishing platform.
  • Kareem Mayan’s Weblog – How I Discovered My Life’s Purpose – I've never really thought about coming up with a mission statement for my life, but that's what my friend Kareem has spent the last 18 months doing. I'm very excited that he feels he has come up with a verbal distillation of his life's purpose (even if I personally find the actual language to be a bit vague). I look forward to seeing the ways he comes up with to pursue this purpose.

    I agree with a lot of Kareem's thinking on these matters (which is probably why we're friends ūüôā ) and greatly admire (and somewhat envy) his courage to so aggressively pursue these questions. So, it's great to be able to ride along on his journey even from afar. My favorite line from this post is: "The opposite of quiet desperation, I reasoned, is magnificent fulfillment."

Delicious Bookmarks for April 10th through April 15th

These are my Delicious links for April 10th through April 15th:

  • 15 Places to Find Great Fonts | Lists | Tutorial Blog – A list of sites where one can find free fonts.
  • The Quiet Coup – The Atlantic(May 2009) – A very interesting in-depth analysis of the rise of the financial oligarchy in the US over the last 20 years and how it has created dynamics similar to those of emerging market economic crises, according to a former chief economist of the IMF. “In a society that celebrates the idea of making money, it was easy to infer that the interests of the financial sector were the same as the interests of the country‚ÄĒand that the winners in the financial sector knew better what was good for America than did the career civil servants in Washington. Faith in free financial markets grew into conventional wisdom‚ÄĒtrumpeted on the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal and on the floor of Congress.”

Delicious Bookmarks for January 9th through January 23rd

These are my links for January 9th through January 23rd:

  • Tube Mogul Buys Video Analytics Firm – "TubeMogul currently has over 40,000 users, ranging from networks and studios such as CBS, to web only video producers and bloggers like 'Fred.' Illumenex current clients include Internet TV pioneer Revision3 and comedy site 'eBaum’s World.'”
  • "Don’t forget…" – a set on Flickr – Really cool street art project in Berlin (where else) that is adding Photoshop interface elements to billboards to remind passers-by that these images of beauty are artificially enhanced. (via https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/9591)
  • Facebook Developers | Facebook Developers News – Facebook is now allowing custom FBML tags, essentially code libraries produced by 3rd party application developers that can be used by other application developers to add functionality from one app to another. This opens the door to officially sanctioned mash-ups of Facebook apps, which are already mash-ups in themselves. Using the term mash-up in a non-ironic fashion makes me want to punch myself.
  • The Inauguration of President Barack Obama – The Big Picture – Boston.com – A poignant collection of photos of Barack Obama's inauguration and the reactions to it around the world. My favorite is the American soldier in Iraq crying tears of joy (#19). The fact that the routine transfer of power in our country can inspire such powerful reactions around the world is evidence of what a truly global world in which we now we live. And I believe it shows that we as American citizens are making progress towards redeeming ourselves in the eyes of the world, who hold *us* (not just our leaders) accountable for the actions of our nation.
  • Transcript – Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address – Text – NYTimes.com – Text of Obama's inaugural address.
  • Rev. Lowery Inauguration benediction. Transcript. – Lynn Sweet – "Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around — (laughter) — when yellow will be mellow — (laughter) — when the red man can get ahead, man — (laughter) — and when white will embrace what is right."
  • Resources Every WordPress Theme Developer Should Know About! | Arbenting – A comprehensive list of resources for WordPress Theme development.
  • YouTube Videos Pull In Real Money – NYTimes.com – Many have long claimed that the only profitable type of online video content was repurposed TV shows/films or other "professionally produced" content. This article give several examples dispelling that myth and showing that the online video audience and business has reached a point where even so-called amateurs can make real money. For example, Michael Buckley is making >$100k/year from his homegrown entertainment news show "What the Buck?" purely through YouTube's partner program.
  • Op-Ed Contributors – The End of the Financial World as We Know It – NYTimes.com – Comprehensive (if not revelatory) overview of some of the primary drivers of the financial bubble and resulting collapse by Michael Lewis and David Einhorn. Puts things like the failures of the ratings agencies and the greed of financial services company shareholders, which have been examined more deeply on their own, into the broader context of our current hindsight.
  • YouTube Is Changing How We Think About Video | Techdirt – "The power of YouTube is that it enables something entirely new and different to emerge and to thrive. In the history of disruptive innovations, merely taking a product from one medium and moving it to another usually doesn't get very far. It's the projects that really embrace the new possibilities that are only possible via that new medium that really make an impact."

These are my Delicious links for January 9th through January 23rd:

  • Tube Mogul Buys Video Analytics Firm – "TubeMogul currently has over 40,000 users, ranging from networks and studios such as CBS, to web only video producers and bloggers like 'Fred.' Illumenex current clients include Internet TV pioneer Revision3 and comedy site 'eBaum’s World.'”
  • "Don’t forget…" – a set on Flickr – Really cool street art project in Berlin (where else) that is adding Photoshop interface elements to billboards to remind passers-by that these images of beauty are artificially enhanced. (via https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/9591)
  • Facebook Developers | Facebook Developers News – Facebook is now allowing custom FBML tags, essentially code libraries produced by 3rd party application developers that can be used by other application developers to add functionality from one app to another. This opens the door to officially sanctioned mash-ups of Facebook apps, which are already mash-ups in themselves. Using the term mash-up in a non-ironic fashion makes me want to punch myself.
  • The Inauguration of President Barack Obama – The Big Picture – Boston.com – A poignant collection of photos of Barack Obama's inauguration and the reactions to it around the world. My favorite is the American soldier in Iraq crying tears of joy (#19). The fact that the routine transfer of power in our country can inspire such powerful reactions around the world is evidence of what a truly global world in which we now we live. And I believe it shows that we as American citizens are making progress towards redeeming ourselves in the eyes of the world, who hold *us* (not just our leaders) accountable for the actions of our nation.
  • Transcript – Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address – Text – NYTimes.com – Text of Obama's inaugural address.
  • Rev. Lowery Inauguration benediction. Transcript. – Lynn Sweet – "Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around — (laughter) — when yellow will be mellow — (laughter) — when the red man can get ahead, man — (laughter) — and when white will embrace what is right."
  • Resources Every WordPress Theme Developer Should Know About! | Arbenting – A comprehensive list of resources for WordPress Theme development.
  • YouTube Videos Pull In Real Money – NYTimes.com – Many have long claimed that the only profitable type of online video content was repurposed TV shows/films or other "professionally produced" content. This article give several examples dispelling that myth and showing that the online video audience and business has reached a point where even so-called amateurs can make real money. For example, Michael Buckley is making >$100k/year from his homegrown entertainment news show "What the Buck?" purely through YouTube's partner program.
  • Op-Ed Contributors – The End of the Financial World as We Know It – NYTimes.com – Comprehensive (if not revelatory) overview of some of the primary drivers of the financial bubble and resulting collapse by Michael Lewis and David Einhorn. Puts things like the failures of the ratings agencies and the greed of financial services company shareholders, which have been examined more deeply on their own, into the broader context of our current hindsight.
  • YouTube Is Changing How We Think About Video | Techdirt – "The power of YouTube is that it enables something entirely new and different to emerge and to thrive. In the history of disruptive innovations, merely taking a product from one medium and moving it to another usually doesn't get very far. It's the projects that really embrace the new possibilities that are only possible via that new medium that really make an impact."

Why we’ve already won.

I’m writing this on a lunch break from campaigning for Barack Obama in Henderson, NV. My friends Robi, Jenni, and I flew out from San Francisco (*early*) Saturday morning, and have been knocking on doors pretty much non-stop since.

It’s finally Election Day, and we’re each coping with the anxiety/excitement in our own ways.
When we got up at 5am, I was pretty freaked out about all the things that could go wrong today. Michelle Obama in North Las Vegas But, getting out there knocking on doors has been a great (and productive) distraction.  

Now as we sit here with MSNBC on 3 tvs at the bar, it’s impossible to avoid the significance of the historical moment soon at hand. Obviously, I have a tremendously vested interest in the outcome of the presidential election. And, I strongly urge everyone to act still today – if you haven’t voted, do it; if you’ve voted, phone bank or just call or text your friends and remind them to vote.

However, I feel we’ve already won a great victory for democracy in this country just by getting to this point:

  • First of all, Obama’s candidacy and his campaign’s focus on the youth vote has succeeded in engaging a generation of voters who have spent their entire lives aliented by the political process. This is a momentous shift that’s impact will resonate for many election cycles to come.¬†
  • Secondly, the nature of Obama’s (largely) issue-oriented and positive campaign (and for that matter, the early part of McCain’s campaign as well) has pulled us back from the antagonistic campaigning armageddon brought about by the disciples of Karl Rove. Though we still have a long way to go in raising campaign discourse back to the level such an important process deserves, I see this election as the first step in the electorate repudiating the political conventional wisdom that negative campaigning is an effective tactic.¬†
  • And finally, I am relieved that a candidate like Obama, who talks *up* to his audience (as does his wife), has overcome both the anti-intellectual attacks of the W. era and defied the sound bite-centric campaigning that has been on the rise since Reagan (and greatly accelerated by Bill Clinton). Not dumbing down the message and talking to voters like adults is the first step to restoring constructive political discourse in this country. <update>Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times echoes this sentiment in a much deeper analysis of anti-intellectualism in America.</update>

I’m extremely happy all of this has¬†already¬†been achieved. And to be honest, I’m not sure I would have believed that even these things were possible just a few years ago. But I’m greedy, and as great as these achievements are, they’re not nearly enough!

Now, let’s get out there and use the rest of this day to do what we can to elect Barack Obama and defeat CA Prop 8!!!

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Why I’m voting No on Proposition 8

I just returned from doing some volunteer work for No on Prop 8 at their SF office. Other than the presidential election, this is the most important issue for me this election day. For those who aren’t aware, Proposition 8 is a California statewide ballot initiative that would amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage.

While this wouldn’t affect me personally, I have many friends who it would. And, I have a serious problem with denying a certain group of citizens the same rights as everyone else. If you don’t have a position on this issue, you should. To stand silently by while someone else is deprived of their rights is to be complicit in that act.

Here is a poem that pretty well captures my motivations:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

– “First the came…” by Martin¬†Niem√∂ller

There is plenty of time left to help, and this is going to be a very contentious race. So, please do what you can to help stop the codification of discrimination. The campaign can use your money, your time, or just your voice.

DON’T REMAIN SILENT!

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Debunking Lies about Military Fatalities by the (Actual) Numbers

I received an email forward from my mom this morning with the Subject: Surprising Facts, which claimed the hard to believe conclusion that there were more deaths of military personnel under the Clinton administration than that of George W. Bush. The conclusion was backed up with convincing looking “facts” in the email, but it still violated common sense. So, I decided to go to the source and see for myself. Unfortunately, what I found wasn’t much of a surprise — the supposed “facts” were lies and the conclusion they supported was simply not true.

Instead of 14,107 deaths under Clinton and 7,932 deaths under George W. Bush as claimed in the email, the actual totals from the Department of Defense are 7,500 for Clinton and 10,946 for W. More on the actual numbers in a minute, but first I’d like to talk about one of the worst (and most potent) forms of disinformation — the email chain-letter.

Jessica Gray, whose husband, Staff Sergeant Yance T. Gray, was killed in Baghdad last year while serving with the 82nd Airborne. Photo by Platon

Chain emails are totally unaccountable, and thus a favorite tool of slimy political operatives to spread disinformation (deliberately false or misleading information) they can’t be caught spreading. It is a horribly underhanded tactic, and a special place in Hell should be reserved for those who make use of it.

But, they continue to do it because it works. And it works because people are too lazy to check the facts. If you know how to use email, you know how to use Google (or Yahoo! Search). But, even smart people, like my mom and her friends, blindly forward this crap on — thereby personally endorsing the lies and becoming complicit in their creators’¬†attempts to deceive the American public. In this case, a quick web search for “military fatalities” returns two pages debunking this specific email as well as the real data from the Department of Defense, all above the fold.¬†Sites like the non-partisan http://www.factcheck.org exist for just this purpose, and it really only takes a minute to check these things out before forwarding them on and spreading lies to your friends.

So next time before you hit that Forward button in your email, please do yourself, your friends, and this country a favor by taking two minutes to check the facts you’re about to put your name on.

I found this email particularly repugnant because it appeals to our appreciation for the ultimate sacrifice made by brave American servicemen and women and then dishonors their memories by distorting the truth about their lives lost. So, I wanted to dig deeper than someone else’s response to the email and do my own analysis.

All the official data I accumulated is direct from the Department of Defense, and here is the full spreadsheet I put together to come up with the below conclusions. (DataVis geeks, knock yourselves out!)

Ronald Reagan (1981-1988):
Total Military Deaths – 17,201
Deaths as % of Total Military – 0.09%
Deaths from Hostile Action or Terrorist Attack Р353 

George H. W. Bush (1989-1992):
Total Military Deaths – 6,223
Deaths as % of Total Military – 0.07%
Deaths from Hostile Action or Terrorist Attack – 172

Bill Clinton (1993-2000):
Total Military Deaths – 7,500
Deaths as % of Total Military – 0.06%
Deaths from Hostile Action or Terrorist Attack Р76 

George W. Bush (2001-2007):
Total Military Deaths – 10,946
Deaths as % of Total Military – 0.10%
Deaths from Hostile Action or Terrorist Attack Р3,513 

However, the absolute total numbers aren’t particularly illustrative of policy differences. Over the 28 year period for which there is data, only 9.30% of the military fatalities were classified as Sergeant Tim Johannsen and his wife, Jacquelyne Kay, in a rehabilitation unit at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Photo by Platon for The New Yorker resulting from Hostile Action or Terrorist Attack. Since the vast majority of deaths in this period are classified as Accidents (53.22% ) followed by Illness (17.54%) and Self Inflicted (13.61%), the total number of deaths in a given year is more an indication of the total size of the military at that time than anything else. What is most likely the best metric for understanding the effect of policy differences is deaths as a percentage of the total military, which was an average of 0.08% over the entire period. By this metric, George W. Bush’s policies have been the most costly (0.10%), followed by Ronald Reagan (0.09%), then George H. W. Bush (0.07%), and finally Bill Clinton (0.06%).

But, I think the best measure is to look at the total human cost of each individual conflict, which the Department of Defense also provides. 

Iranian Hostage Rescue Mission (April 25, 1980):
President: Jimmy Carter
Total Casualties: 8*

Lebanon Peacekeeping (1982-1984):
President: Ronald Reagan
Total Casualties: 265*

Urgent Fury, Grenada (1983)*:
President: Ronald Reagan
Total Casualties: 19*

Just Cause, Panama (1989)*:
President: George H. W. Bush
Total Casualties: 23*

Persian Gulf War (1990-1991)*:
President: George H. W. Bush
Total Casualties: 383*
Total Wounded: 467**

Restore Hope, Somalia (1992-1994):
President: Bill Clinton
Total Casualties: 43*

Uphold Democracy, Haiti (1994-1996):
President: Bill Clinton
Total Casualties: 4*

Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan (2001-2008):
President: George W. Bush
Total Casualties: 606***
Total Seriously Wounded****: 8,601***

Iraqi Freedom, Iraq (2003-2008):
President: George W. Bush
Total Casualties: 4,169*****
Total Seriously Wounded****: 43,787*****

**** Total Seriously Wounded is total number of wounded requiring medical air transport

Afghanistan and Iraq have cost 4,775 lives and 52,388 serious injuries from 2001-2008, while all other major military engagements since 1980 (including the Persian Gulf War) had a combined total of 745 casualties. In comparison, the Vietnam Conflict resulted in 58,220 American military personnel dead and 153,303 seriously injured from 1964-1973 (** above). So, the Global War on Terror thus far has resulted 8.2% as many deaths and 33.7% as many serious injuries as Vietnam.

Regardless of how you feel about any or all of these military operations, it is important that we all recognize and value the very real costs paid by the men and women of our armed forces. So if you received or forwarded this erroneous email, I sincerely hope you will take the time to follow up with the correct information and make sure we properly honor the sacrifices of these brave soldiers.

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So, what if he were a Muslim?! or On Intolerance and National Security

Rock on Colin Powell!

I think the most important aspect of the General’s¬†much talked about endorsement of Barack Obama on Meet the Press today was his head-on repudiation of the¬†despicable¬†whisper campaign to spread the misconception that Obama is a Muslim (ironically — or not — enough, similar to another¬†presidential disinformation campaign¬†in recent memory):

I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say and it is permitted to be said.¬†Such things as: “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.”

Well, the correct answer is he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He has always been a Christian.

But, the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being Muslim in this country?

The answer is no, that’s not America.

Amen! If you haven’t watched the whole thing, you really should — it’ll make you want to write in Colin Powell in November.¬†

In the immortal words of Sarah Silverman: “Yes, Barack Hussein Obama, it’s a super-fucking-shitty name. But, you’d think that somebody named Manischewitz Guberman might understand that.” Otherwise put, we are a nation of immigrants, a conglomeration of people who represent ethnicities, cultures, and religions from all over the world. This country began as a safe-haven from religious persecution, and made history by being the first to enshrine measures against¬†intolerance (i.e. separation of church and state) in its founding documents. The sad irony of the long and violent history of xenophobia in America is that it is generally the last people to be shit on who are first in line to shit on the new arrivals. It’s like the frat boys (full disclosure: I was in a fraternity ūüėČ ) who haze the pledges because they had themselves been hazed.

But in this case, this latent anti-Muslim sentiment being exploited isn’t just¬†un-American, it is a threat to our national security. Not just our nation, but our entire way of life, is under¬†siege¬†by Islamic Fundamentalism. However, the operative word here is the second, fundamentalism, *not* the first. We are not being attacked by Muslims, we are being attacked by fundamentalists, who happen to be hiding behind the banner of Islam. They are painting the western world, led by the US, as modern day Crusaders intent on wiping Islamic culture from the earth. We, they argue, are the ones who have made this an all-or-nothing battle for the very survival of Islam — it is *our* intolerance and need for Judeo-Christian culture to dominate that dictates the inability for our two worlds to peacefully coexist. So, for Americans to let the heinous acts of extremists foment mainstream intolerance of Muslims in our country is truly to let the terrorists win.

I believe the true front-line in the “War on Terror” is not on the ground in Iraq or Tora Bora, it is ideological. There is no doubt that we must find and bring to justice the leaders of these terrorist organizations. That is absolutely necessary, but it is also far from sufficient. Because without winning the ideological battle, new leaders will spring up to replace them. The only way to truly win the war for the possibility of peaceful¬†coexistence is to starve these organizations of their oxygen — to take away the support of the people. It is not Osama Bin Laden who is blowing himself up at US checkpoints in Iraq, and it is not true believers who are providing food and supplies to the Al Qaida leadership hiding in the mountains of Pakistan. The Fundamentalists have successfully convinced an ever growing portion of the Muslim world — the individual people, not the governments — that it is us or them, and the support of those people is the true source of their strength.

More than 20% of the world’s population is Muslim, including over 150M Muslims in each Pakistan and India, both with nuclear weapons, and 70M in Turkey, which is likely to become a member of the EU in the next 15 years. And in France, the Muslim population is estimated to be as high as 10% (the French census doesn’t ask religion). Our way of life cannot survive if we continue to let the Fundamentalists’ campaign of disinformation persist, or even worse, if we contribute to it. We must demonstrate to the people of the Muslim world, with our words and our deeds, that ours is a culture of tolerance and that there is another choice beyond¬†having their culture destroyed or¬†supporting terrorists. And, the responsibility to spread this message of¬†coexistence¬†does not just lie with our governments, it is ours as citizens as well.

Some links of note:

<update>
Credit where credit’s due. As much as I like to malign cable news, props to CNN’s Campbell Brown for tackling this issue¬†(with an almost identical title) before Colin Powell (and even before The Daily Show!). Thanks¬†Sean¬†for the find.
</update>

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