Monday, March 21, 2011

Useful tools for getting around net censorship

"Though we still have far to go in developing easy and effective ways of getting around a complete shutdown of the Internet such as the ones we saw most recently in Egypt and Libya, there is a growingly sophisticated toolbox for getting around the restrictions put in place by authoritarian governments of countries such as China as well as some democracies such as South Korea, to use two examples from my own experience."

Useful tools for some ICA actions, Tor and VPN.

Friday, March 18, 2011

smaller houses the wave of the future?

Since moving back to Rapid City, South Dakota, I've noticed there are a lot of tiny houses. I even thought of buying this cute log cabin that is all of 500 square feet. 

Now comes a guy who thinks 612 square feet is all you need.  Some activities can just be done in common buildings: "For example, in a development Weimer is working to get approved through the city, the owners of smaller homes would share outdoor space and common buildings with space for parties, guest rooms and meetings, managed by a homeowners association."

Having lived in a 400 square foot cabin during the summer, I've learned to live with less.  It actually works out pretty well for me.  But a single guy is different than a couple, or a family.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

software helps in time of disaster to know what to supply

"EMMAs can point out when a cash-based initiative (giving loans or vouchers to buy local goods) could be more effective, allowing relief organizations to spend less money and ultimately giving the local population more choice as to how they re-build."

This is about a software program that analyzes the needs of a disaster location, so donations and organizational efforts can be more efficiently utilized to provide just what is needed in the best way.  This sounds like an amazingly useful process.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

No Raising Taxes meme hurts the U.S.

Republicans claim they get this idea of not raising taxes from Ronald Reagan. But Reagan raised taxes four times.  They claim taxing us is taking "our money" from us.  Well duh. That's why taxes are whined about always and forever. 

The better question is, what are we getting from our taxes?  If it's useful and good things, with little waste, then we should be ecstatic.  If not, then we try to cut out the waste.  But meanwhile, we have health care (most of us now, anyway), good roads, military protection, a court system, and on and on.  These are things that citizens collectively do better than private business.

So now we've had a recession and our governmental income is way less than our expenses.  The Republican meme pushes them to avoid tax increases, so they are planning to cut things that are not wasteful. Like tsunami warning systems, for a current example.

This is a nice infographic that shows where we could get more governmental income without hurting the economy, and save some important programs.

If you put a child on a diet, that's different than starving him. Starving him brings damage, perhaps permanent damage.  If you starve some programs, you might permanently damage or destroy them. Let's not act like cavemen and just whack away with an axe. Let's consider what is worth paying for, and pay for it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

world protest blog

This blog keeps track of protests around the world.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"From Dictatorship to Democracy" how-to book

"In situations in which the population feels powerless and frightened,
it is important that initial tasks for the public be low-risk, confidence building
actions. These types of actions — such as wearing one’s
clothes in an unusual way — may publicly register a dissenting
opinion and provide an opportunity for the public to participate
significantly in acts of dissent. In other cases a relatively minor (on
the surface) nonpolitical issue (such as securing a safe water supply)
might be made the focus for group action. Strategists should choose
an issue the merits of which will be widely recognized and difficult
to reject. Success in such limited campaigns could not only correct
specific grievances but also convince the population that it indeed
has power potential."

You can download Gene Sharp's "From Dictatorship to Democracy" for free, in many languages.

This is a comprehensive and careful how-to book.  It gives a nice general overview of the steps and tools needed to bring down a dictator (or cult perhaps?).  Sharp demonstrates where many revolutions go wrong and how to avoid those pitfalls.  It's clearly written and covers most every situation that could arise.  Supposedly this book was used in Serbia to great effect, and elsewhere.