An OLPC Christmas / OLPC Distribution in October

Holiday Wishes Come True?

Finally some confirmation from up on high! (Mary Lou Jepsen, CTO)
She mentions a possible price-tag of $350.

From the reuters article:

As the foundation prepares for mass production of its first model, the XO, to begin in October, it is looking for ways to subsidize manufacturing of the devices so that it can get more of them into the hands of poor children, Jepsen said.

Profits from consumer sales would go for that purpose, said Jepsen.

"We're trying to get the best deal we can," she said.

She added the foundation is looking at selling the machines over the Internet and talking to companies with "a big presence on the Web," although she declined to identify any by name.

We could speculate on what laptop-conveyance they'll go with, waxing fantastical, but the reality is probably not going to be that earth-shaking; they'll find a tigerdirect-like distributor, or something.

Saying that, I'm not ruling out GoogleDelivery, direct from the hands of Al Gore as he travels cross-country at the head of a fleet of OLPC-laden GoogleVans.


Large-Scale Laptop Production About To Begin

According to this BBC article, the production of the Children Machine is about to be ramped up to get the devices into kids hands by this coming October.

Here's Chris Blizzard going over innards and some power stuff: (courtesy BBC)

The BBC also provides a link to their 'Factfile: XO laptop' which contains a good overview of the technology that makes the Children's Machine what it is. If you scroll-down to the bottom, they have an applet demonstrating how the mesh connectivity behaves (it looks like a slightly modifed version of this one). Fun.

Although I find it a little hard to believe that we'll be able to purchase our very own OLPCs only two months after legitimate distribution starts, I am so excited for this Christmas.



Here is a collection of links which should each be considered worthy appendices of THE ENCYCLOPEDIA GALACTICA:

The INTERNET Archive

Library of Congress, American Memory AUDIO Collections

Library of Congress, American Memory MOVIE Collections

Library of Congress, American Memory IMAGE Collections

Wellcome IMAGE Collection

TEXT, AUDIO, MOVIE Poetry Collections at ubu.com

TEXT Collection of 522 Poets

Because these links are so laden with content, I will try to conduct semi regular explorations of each. And report back my findings here. Unfortunately all these sites have interfaces which impair your use. I'll also add new Internet Media Collections, or ContentDumps, as I find them.
Here are a few selected collections:
By the People, For the People: Posters from the WPA, 1936-1943
Early Animated Films, 1900-1921
Vintage Animated Cartoons, 1930s-1940s

"You're being paranoid, John."

Watch the [.mpg4] and enjoy the [transcript] of the McLauglin Group from FRIDAY, JULY 13, 2007 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JULY 14-15, 2007.

In which, John McLaughlin suggest that Michael Chertoff's "recent gut" feeling that America could experience an, "increased summer threat," is part of a disinformation plot on the part of the White House.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And why was that story surfaced this week? Do you think some of this was designed, on the part of the administration, including the sentiment expressed by the head of Homeland Security that he feels it in his belly, was this designed to keep the Republicans in the Congress at bay?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it designed as a kind of a prelude to the president's press conference?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me ask you this about Pakistan. Was the release of that story -- let's go back to that. Was the release of that story about Rumsfeld designed to send a message to Musharraf? Namely, "You either cooperate with us or we'll go forward with that kind of Rumsfeld plan." In other words, this is kind of a fearmongering for him and it's fearmongering for the Congress.

(Blankley denies this idea that the Rumsfeld story is beneficial to the Bush Administration and claims the author, Andrea Mitchell is an aggressive reporter and no friend of the White House. However, she is Alan Greenspan's wife, and doesn't come off well in this Media Matters coverage of the 2004 election.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the president announcing a third front, and that's Pakistan?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: What is the main factor fueling the rise of al Qaeda? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: The United States' invasion and occupation of an Arab country, Iraq, and the four-year war we've fought against the resistance in Iraq, that has created an enormous movement across the Arab and Islamic world to drive the United States out of there. And there are volunteers -- tremendous numbers of volunteers for al Qaeda.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you seen that happen before, where jihadists would flow from all over the world to any sector in order to evict an occupier?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure. You've seen it in the Battle of Algiers.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where else have you seen it?

MS. CLIFT: Afghanistan.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You saw it in Afghanistan, did you not?

MS. CLIFT: Absolutely. And a western country invading an oil- rich Muslim country is a recipe for disaster.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't see how this whole event was a prelude -- that is, the director of Homeland Security -- was a prelude to Bush's press conference?

MR. BUCHANAN: This is one of these Machiavellian --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you realize that by creating --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- by creating an atmosphere of fear, by creating an atmosphere of fear --

MR. BUCHANAN: You are paranoid, John. You are paranoid.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- he holds the Congress in place? He holds them in place.

MS. CLIFT: I would have agreed with you --

MS. HUFFINGTON: But it didn't help Bush. On the contrary, I think it had the opposite effect. How does it help Bush to have an official estimate of an increased strength of al Qaeda?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The atmospherics of terror are such that if the president then appears strong in Iraq, it's misconcluded by the American public that he is fighting terrorism. And therefore, they give him more license to do so.
As always John McLaughlin speaks the truth. The rest aren't stepping back and seeing how the sentence reads if you skip three words a beat. The Misconclusions of the Public are written by the television press which have universally degraded the quality of debate, and forgotten their public responsibility not to publish propaganda. The others on the show, liberal and conservative make the mistakes that plague the over-informed. They assume Americans are as well.
MR. BUCHANAN: They smacked down -- Chertoff got smacked down by both Bush and Tony Snow, for heaven's sakes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, why? You know that.

MS. CLIFT: No, no. Chertoff --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just as --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It is uncharacteristic of Chertoff to talk about anything originating in his gut. So he gets a phone call.

MR. BLANKLEY: John, you're --

MR. BUCHANAN: You're moving way out there, John. (Laughs.)

MS. HUFFINGTON: John, the final proof that you are wrong is that the president at his press conference actually said the exact opposite. He said that al Qaeda is weaker because of our actions since 9/11. He said that. So if this was some kind of planned leak, then he wouldn't have contradicted his own Machiavellian plan.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I think they jibe together. It works perfectly.

MR. BLANKLEY: Arianna, he's just that cunning.
They make funny of him, call him paranoid, but John McLaughlin is absolutely right. To understand this administration you can't look at what they say, or what the facts admit. But rather the message they are able to convey through Fox News and the pressure it creates in tandem with an Executive branch unified around that centralized message. This message and those who created it are all honorary parts and products of the Ministry of Truth. And it is important for such a Ministry to have a role call.

The pundits and journalists who have lubed the way for new policies and war, should be recognized. Conner linked to The Long Now Blog in the sidebar and through it I found this Radar Online article that's wonderful on, The Iraq Gamble. It traces the careers of eight pundits, and sees what their pre-War stance got them. Those with the wrong stance, the risk everything for this fun idea stance, those pro-war assholes made big bucks and kept everyone's ear. Not so for those who opposed the war and disagreed with Bush's NON-existent WMDs.

This is really a long now kind of issue, because in a longer time frame then we are currently appreciating life at, there becomes room and need to have a list. Lynne Cheney made a list of professors after 9/11 who she considered "un-American." Schools were pressured not to hire the professors for speeches or teaching positions. Truly another dark day for American freedoms. But perhaps it is time to start drawing up new list. A list of those who, through intent or neglect, lead America astray with a weak reporting of the facts.

America has made some bad decisions in the past six years. Decisions that rock the core security of our democracy. To preserve our freedoms and our nation, we must identify the problem. So when Gore comes to power in the early Winter of 2008, he can clear our the trash before 2010.

The Radar article is really worth reading but here is the gist of it,

McLauglin closes last Friday's show with,
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The House Oversight Committee this week heard testimony of ex-Surgeon General Richard Carmona. He served the current Bush administration from 2002 to 2006, a four-year term as the nation's top doctor.

The surgeon general's duties are to provide Americans, quote, "the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and reduce the risk of illness."

On Tuesday, Dr. Carmona lambasted the Bush administration for substituting politics for science.

RICHARD CARMONA (former U.S. surgeon general): (From videotape.) Anything that doesn't fit into the political appointee's ideological, theological or political agenda is often ignored, marginalized or simply buried. The problem with this approach is that in public health, as in a democracy, there is nothing worse than ignoring science or marginalizing the voice of science for reasons driven by changing political winds.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Among other examples, Dr. Carmona pointed to stem cell research funding as an instance of where his analysis and his opinion were spurned.

DR. CARMONA: (From videotape.) I was blocked at every turn. I was told the decision had already been made. "Stand down. Don't talk about it."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Carmona says that his speeches were censored on issues ranging from second-hand smoke to AIDS to sex education to birth control.

DR. CARMONA: (From videotape.) You don't want Republican or Democratic scientific information. You want real scientific information.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Carmona also said that the administration told him to mention Mr. Bush's name three times on every page of every speech.
That final bombshell McLauglin points to as proof of the "cult of personality," which maintains the President's loyal 30 percent. Bush's little brownshirts are ignorant of the counter-facts Huffington and her techno-elite dine on. Instead they are fed fear by their strong leader, and so they stay our nations course, and defend an impeachable Administration.


"Asbestos Not Found in Air After Blast, Officials Say"

I'll believe that when the first responders don't get cancer.
Clipped from the NYTimes:

Asbestos has been found in the muddy dirt and debris that was spewed forth in a thunderous steam pipe explosion that jolted Midtown Manhattan on Wednesday evening. But no asbestos was found in the air, as Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and others had initially feared.

The explosion on Wednesday propelled a giant scalding jet of brownish steam toward the sky, sending commuters who had been heading home stampeding to safety.

One person died, officials said, and more than 30 were hurt, two of them critically.

“There is no reason to believe this is anything other than a failure of our infrastructure,” Mayor Bloomberg said.
That's a relief. As Mike Dukakis would say, the infrastructure is deteriorating. And it has been for years, so no alarms and no surprises there. I feel better already. As to, I don't know, repairing the infrastructure, maybe not all of the anti-terrorism money that's being sent to the cities will be spent on crowd suppression weapons and surveillance. Maybe they'll find it in their cold cold heart's to throw the people a dime. But I wouldn't hold my breath unless I didn't want Asbestos related cancer in the future.


The place where fascism and the environment meet for casual sex and everyone watches...

Here's a follow up to the fact-flash that NYC will soon be graced with the same video surveillance that helped protect London on July 7, 2005.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A proposed ``congestion pricing'' toll system to reduce traffic and pollution will be too expensive, its array of cameras for enforcement will threaten civil liberties, and downtown businesses will shrivel.

New York City, 2007?

Try London 2002. Those were the dire predictions a half-decade ago when the British city pioneered what New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg hopes to repeat now. In London, the results include a drop in traffic congestion by 20 percent and similar decrease in carbon emissions in London's central zone since 2003.

But the plan to help fight global warming, in which cars would be charged $8 and trucks $21 to drive into Manhattan south of 86th Street, will first have to get through state lawmakers in Albany on Monday. It faces some strong opposition and bad timing.

In London, where the fees were about double what Bloomberg proposes, ``there was enormous opposition, both politically and from business owners and ultimately it was approved through a long and arduous political process, much like we have here,'' said Steven Polan, a Manhattan lawyer who worked for London's government on its congestion pricing plan after working for New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
All in the name of fighting global warming in the global city. Imagine what President Bloomberg would do? For that matter what President Gore will do.

Here's a quote from Raymond Kelley, NYPD Commisioner when he was on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer:
Well, it's long been settled in the law that there is no expectation of privacy in the public place. That's been the law of the land for quite a while. There was a landmark Supreme Court decision, I believe, was in 1968.

So it's simply not a legal issue. It's not a violation of the Constitution. It's not a violation of statute. I think what the professor is talking about is policy. And we're really -- you know, we're not talking about a violation of anyone's constitutional rights.

Will there be, you know, some aberrations? You can always point to some misuse of a piece of equipment. But by and large, I think it just simply makes sense to have cameras, to have the ability to monitor activities in this most sensitive location, I'd say for the United States of America, not just for New York City.
Good advice Ray. So next time your necking your girl in Central Park, remember to make it look extra good, because your not alone and the Watchmen like it hot.


They Will Not Go Quietly Into That Goodnight

I just watched a short Bill Moyers program from 1987 called, The Secret Government: The Constitution in Crisis. It's devastatingly frightening. Moyers traces the beginning of the end to the National Security Act of 1947. I can't recommend watching this 22 minute documentary enough. America's War of Terror makes much more sense when seen in it's historical context. This is war has lasted over half a century so far, and has no intention of stopping. And we probably can't stop it.

Moyers says when America employed Nazi war criminals as spies and scientists we made a pact with the Devil. This is true. The death worship and imperial dreams of the Nazis were not defeated, merely transmuted.

This is too frustrating to bear. Here are 5 links, a warning and a solution:

"Reagan Aides and the 'Secret' Government," Alfonso Chardy, Miami Herald, July 5, 1987.
Continuity of Government in the United States
'Shadow Government' News To Congress, March 2, 2002
U.S. Can Confine Citizens Without Charges, Court Rules, September 10, 2005
Security Cameras Coming to New York City

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

Dwight D. Eisenhower's Farewell Address
17 January 1961

And any time you find the government involved in a conspiracy to violate the citizenship or the civil rights of a people, then you are wasting your time going to that government expecting redress. Instead, you have to take that government to the World Court and accuse it of genocide and all of the other crimes that it is guilty of today.

Malcolm X

"Sometimes I feel like all science is doing now is reverse-engeneering Jack Kirby..."

Is there a word for that unsettling experience of walking by some street corner you've walked by a thousand times before and noticing the building that was always there had been torn down, replaced by some shiny new thing--and now that the old thing is gone, you realize you can't really remember what was there before? I feel like that's happening around us all the time.


I had a strange sense of seeing a foreign object, realizing I couldn't fully grasp it's significance to my future-self, but knowing one day in the future it would be significant. One day, the iPhone will return to me. One day I would be holding one of my own, never knowing how I ever got along without it before.

Over at the table sits Dean Haspiel, chilling with Heidi MacDonald and JahFurry. Dean and I start talking about Jack Kirby (not the first time). We talk about comics, the glory of them, making them, inventing them, loving them. We talk about science fiction in comics, about Jack Kirby and his particular type of science fiction. "In comics, there's no budget," I hear myself saying, "just your paper and your brush and your imagination."

"Look at all that stuff Kirby came up with, " he says. "Kirby just INVENTED on paper, he didn't bother to build any of it. He already thought of it. It was enough to just think of it -- he was just blueprinting the future..."

"Sometimes I feel like all science is doing now is reverse-engeneering Jack Kirby," I say.

And we sit there in silence a bit. The thought of Jack Kirby's imagination tends to make cartoonists' conversations taper off into quiet introspection. The place was full of people but the noise of Jack Kirby in my head drowned it all out--exploding, psychedelic Kirby visions, weird twisting pipes on Orion's cycle, the chrome curves and jet-exhaust vents on the underbelly of the Fantasticar, Darkseid's Omega Beams, with all their strange, Cubist trajectories, Seriphan and his collapsing Super Cycle, the silent corridors of the Red Ghost's lunar hideaway, High Father's staff, Machine Man's extending arms and dismantleable magenta body parts, his bug-like red eyes, his impassive stare-- the images paraded along an infinite mobius strip of their own, like the marching red ants in the MC Escher print.

"All the iPhone is is a retarded Mother Box," I declare. Dean nods, knowing.
I finally got to look at the iPhone, like the iPod Nano, it's a 2010 device existing with a halo of improbability around it here in 2007.


Mr. Rogers talks to the US senate

I posted this video before watching it through. Since then I've gone searching for more Fred Rogers on the Internet and beyond. Today I tried to find his book, You Are Special, in my local bookstores to no avail. I'm going to try the Amherst stores soon.

His PBS website gives a taste of his book and some of his song lyrics with sheet music.

His wikipedia entry is not bad and contains this excerpt from Esquire Magazine's coverage of the 1997 Daytime Emmy's, written by Tom Junod:

Mister Rogers went onstage to accept the award — and there, in front of all the soap opera stars and talk show sinceratrons, in front of all the jutting man-tanned jaws and jutting saltwater bosoms, he made his small bow and said into the microphone, "All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are. Ten seconds of silence."[5]

And then he lifted his wrist, looked at the audience, looked at his watch, and said, 'I'll watch the time." There was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn't kidding, that Mister Rogers was not some convenient eunuch, but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked. And so they did. One second, two seconds, three seconds — and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier. And Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said softly, "May God be with you," to all his vanquished children.

The entry also covers his advocacy of the VCR:

Some public stations, as well as commercial stations, program the "Neighborhood" at hours when some children cannot use it ... I have always felt that with the advent of all of this new technology that allows people to tape the "Neighborhood" off-the-air, and I'm speaking for the "Neighborhood" because that's what I produce, that they then become much more active in the programming of their family's television life. Very frankly, I am opposed to people being programmed by others. My whole approach in broadcasting has always been "You are an important person just the way you are. You can make healthy decisions." Maybe I'm going on too long, but I just feel that anything that allows a person to be more active in the control of his or her life, in a healthy way, is important.
This testimony was quoted in a footnote of the Supreme Court's decision to allow VCRs. I'm sure he'd want more than just as few clips like this one, to be on youtube.


“Let us pray also for the Jews, that the Lord our God may take the veil from their hearts and that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ."

Crazy Nazi-Pope Benedict XVI wants to reinstate Latin Mass. Sounds like church will finally be worth going to again. And PB XVI is not only handsome but sympathetic to Jews. Apparently,

Fears that the Vatican was set to reintroduce a controversial prayer including calls for Jews to convert appeared to be allayed yesterday after the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England assured the Jewish community that the contentious part would be omitted.
Pat Buchanan confessed on last Friday's McLaughlin Group, that this is a wet dream come true for him. And with Bush's recent immigration reform failure, everything is coming up roses for PJB.


Commuting Towards Iran

I just finished a magnificent graphic novel my sister got me for my birthday, the famous Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. So I've been thinking about Iran. But I don't think I am alone. The President's lite pardon of the Vice President's man, I. Lewis Libby indicates a future for Iran in the headlines. The Washington Post just finished a multi-part story on the villainy of the Vice POTUS Cheney. The story gained such traction that the Daily Show has already presented three parts of it's undisclosed number of part series on Dick Cheney, "You Don't Know Dick."

It's a good start. But even this increased scrutiny wasn't enough to dissuade Bush from following the course set for him in his private top secret meetings with the Vice POTUS. So while we keep hearing rumblings of dissension in the Bush Administration, Cheney holds the reins. Meaning Iran is still on the table. If the Vice POTUS can still get his friends out of prison, then he can still imprison the country in another war. We're already behind on the schedule for his new American Century.

And Persepolis is required reading for understanding the price of war.

Wikipedia on Marjane Satrapi,

Satrapi's career began in earnest when she met David B., a French comics artist. She adopted a style similar to his, especially in her earliest works. Satrapi became famous worldwide because of her critically acclaimed, autobiographical graphic novels Persepolis and Persepolis 2, which describe her childhood in Iran and her adolescence in Europe in an intelligent and engaging portrait of everyday life.


NY Mag Article on Biology of Sexual Orientation

Here's an interesting article in New York Magazine on the biology of homosexuality,

One of the riddles still vexing geneticists is why only 50 percent of gay identical twins share a sexual orientation with their sibling, despite being genetically identical. “We know from all sorts of research that it’s not your upbringing, not relationship with parents or siblings, not early-childhood sexual experiences and whether you go to a Catholic school or not,” says Sven Bocklandt, a geneticist at UCLA. “What I believe is that it is the ‘epigenetics environment,’ meaning the environment on top of our DNA—meaning the way that the gene is regulated. If you have identical twins, the genes are identical, but they are used differently. Every man and every woman has all the genes to make a vagina and womb and penis and testicles. In the same way, arguably, every man and woman has the genetic code for the brain networks that make you attracted to men and to women. You activate one or the other—and if you activate the wrong one, you’re gay.”
Some critics of sexual-orientation researchers blame them for minimizing the role of experience in determining our affectional course in life. The feminist biologist Anne Fausto-Sterling has waged a constant battle against their research, which she calls “a big house of cards” that ignores the power of environment in creating personality. Nurture, she argues, can and should be studied as a link to sexual orientation. The baby penguin raised by her two dads is a potential case study—though genetically unrelated to either parent, in the last few mating seasons she has mated with another female.

The rush to declare a biological mandate is motivated by a political agenda, says Fausto-Sterling, the author of Sexing the Body, who is married to a woman after a marriage to a man. “For me and for any feminist, I think it’s a pretty fragile way to argue for human rights. I want to see the claims for gay rights made on moral, ethical, legal, and constitutional bases that don’t rely on a particular scientific view of sexual development.”
And according to the wikipedia entry on Biology and sexual orientation,
The Advocate, a U.S. gay and lesbian newsmagazine, reported in 1996 that 61% of its readers believed that "it would mostly help gay and lesbian rights if homosexuality were found to be biologically determined".[23] A cross-national study in the United States, the Philippines, and Sweden found that those who believed that "homosexuals are born that way" held significantly more positive attitudes toward homosexuality than those who believed that "homosexuals choose to be that way" and/or "learn to be that way".[24]
Also mentioned in the David France, New York Magazine article,
Sheep are among 500 animal species where homosexuality has been documented. They are also among the few who practice exclusive homosexuality, like many humans. In any population of sheep, about 8 percent of males show exclusive homosexual behavior. Little is known about the romantic life of Sapphic sheep because ewes tend to express their sexual interests by standing entirely still, yielding no clues about their partner preferences.


One Blog Per Child

If I were teacher, I would not hide from wikipedia. Many teachers do. Citing it is often forbidden. But why run away from a giant book of everything, when it's fun to read with links and tabs. Better to adapt to it.

Rather than infrequent big projects, students should have lots of mini research projects. Asked and allowed to go questing through wikipedia, following links that interest them. Learning history or science, geometry or UFOs. Their reports would be digital. Blog reports summarizing what they had read. They would be supervised by teachers or by older students as part of their education. Teaching is a valuable skill, and experience is a virtue. And the OLPC is a necessity for this sort of thing.

We need books to outline a curriculum for schools without books. And tell us how to revive the relationship between the pupil and the teacher.

Meanwhile, I think personal technologies will be tearing off in two directions. That of the iPhone, Jeff Han, touch screen magic, and that of the OLPC. $100 laptops, mean the internet is finally everywhere. Breadth and depth.

from OLPC News: