Skype notes 4/27/18

Skype meeting notes 4/27/18, Blaser, Milner, Serrano

Mission of The Lakeside Commons (working title)

Lake Chapala area Mexicans and Expats can fix U.S. Immigration law by updating the NewGov Foundation’s IP portfolio and GEOvoter API 2.0, to be developed by, Guadalajara. When completed, the tools can be branded and offered as a powerful onboarding workflow, especially for new members.

The pre-meeting writeup, The Lakeside Commons, describes methods for Democrats Abroad to offer members instant prestige based on their disproportionately high influence over specific issues:

“Good news! Your voting address in Somerville, NJ gives you a LOT of power to help Stephen Colbert and John Oliver in their battle to save the Internet, so you’re kind of a big deal: Less than 1% of Americans have the power you have to save the Internet from big cable companies. Certify now as a Verified Voter, a free upgrade. Just click-to-Tweet so everybody knows how much you matter.”

Screenshot 2018-08-26 14.19.36

NewGov Foundation <=> Democrats Abroad Relationship via the GEOvoter API.

  1. Democrats Abroad: Perfect “Alpha” client to describe its ideal app & infrastructure.
  2. WizeLine is a motivated, world-class outsourcing firm, 75 minutes from Lakeside.
  3. Democrats Abroad’s voter data can credential its members as Verified Constituents.

Materials discussed

Clay Shirky, TED, 2012: How the Internet will (one day) transform government
NewGov insight: Code developers and lawmakers do the same work: draft, negotiate, edit and manipulate blocks of arcane text which, when committed to a code base, have specific effects on the culture and economy. Developers use Git and lawmakers use 18th century methods based on 15th century technology. + the GEOvoter API can process the jurisdictions of the friends of each Democrats Abroad member, based on her Gmail contacts (with permission).

The GEOvoter API

Screenshot 2018-08-27 16.30.26

Miguel Serrano’s initial assessment of the GEOvoter API


iMconfused. iOS & MacOS for Real People

Screenshot 2018-08-23 08.37.45

  • Computer programmers are kids who don’t have a life.
    • So we’re “stupid”!
    • A real life gets in the way of narrow, rigidly enforced expertise.
    • We manage multi-generational, multi-variate, relationships.
    • Most coders have never managed anything as complex.
      in fact, most coders have never managed anything
  • We have a life.
  • We’re smart, BUT…

Smart = Busy = Distracted = “Stupid”

Password management

Photo management

Regular People Have No Idea How To Manage Photos On Their iPhone*

*”I’m serious, they don’t. They don’t know that they don’t, but they don’t.”

Son of a son of an Admiral

Less than a month into his tour of duty off the coast of Vietnam, Lieutenant John McCain was shot down about 3,500 feet above Hanoi on a bombing run. He spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war; he was held in solitary confinement, tortured, beaten until he could not stand. An admiral’s son and a Navy pilot, he came to believe, like many pilots, that the war had been winnable, if only it had been fought right. Which he still believes about Iraq.

McCain never had a chance to deal with the reality of it all. As a fighter jock sleeping on an aircraft carrier every night, he was unlikely to grasp the big picture in a full one-year tour but there was no way he *got* it in his first month.

Any one of us aviators who had been shot down so early and tested so rigorously would never have been able to perceive the absurdity of it all. Now that I know that John McCain was such a neophyte upon capture, I cannot take his views on Vietnam—or Iraq—seriously. I respect his experience: one that I may not have met as well. Interestingly, US Vet Dispatch, a rabid pro-war site supporting veterans, says that the Admiral’s son was not particularly skilled at being a pilot or being a prisoner of war, at least according to their report, which reads like something in Rolling Stone.

[In 1965-66,] McCain was in flight training and having different troubles. Surviving a crash unscathed in Corpus Christi Bay, he managed to later collide another training plane into power lines in Spain.

Despite the crashes, he was allowed to continue flying as a Navy aviator. Luck, or maybe it was the admiral, had smiled on him…

On Oct. 26, 1967, the admiral’s son while flying his 23rd mission over North Vietnam, once again fell from the sky, this time landing in the hands of a brutal enemy. He was beaten and bayoneted. His shoulder was smashed and his right calf was nearly perpendicular to his knee.

The severely wounded McCain was finally thrown on the back of a truck and hauled to the infamous Hanoi Hilton prison camp. Immediately, his captors began to interrogate him using sadistic methods they had perfected on hundreds of captured U.S. servicemen before him.

His interrogators demanded military information. When he refused, his guards kicked and pounded him mercilessly.

McCain admits that three to four days after he was captured, he promised the Vietnamese, “I’ll give you military information if you will take me to the hospital.”

McCain also admits that the Vietnamese rushed him to a hospital, but denies he was given “special medical treatment” because of his promise.

He claims he was given medical care normally unavailable to captured Americans only because the Vietnamese learned he was the son of Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., the soon-to-be commander of all U.S. forces in the Pacific including those fighting in Vietnam.

The Vietnamese figured that because POW McCain’s father was of such high military rank that he was of royalty or the governing circle in the United States. Thereafter the communists bragged that they had captured “the crown prince”and treated him as a “special prisoner.”

Less than two weeks after McCain was taken to a hospital, Hanoi’s press began quoting him giving specific military information, including the name of the aircraft carrier on which he was based, numbers of U.S. pilots that had been lost, the number of aircraft in his flight, information about location of rescue ships and the order of which his attack was supposed to take place.

There is also evidence that McCain received “special” medical treatment from a Soviet physician.

After he was out of the hospital, McCain continued cooperating with the North Vietnamese for a period of three years. He made radio broadcasts for the communists and met with foreign delegations, including the Cubans. He was interviewed by at least two North Vietnamese generals one of whom was Vietnam’s national hero, General Vo Nguyen Giap.

On June 4, 1969, a U.S. wire service story headlined “PW Songbird Is Pilot Son of Admiral,” reported one of McCain’s radio broadcasts: “Hanoi has aired a broadcast in which the pilot son of the United States commander in the Pacific, Adm. John McCain, purportedly admits to having bombed civilian targets in North Vietnam and praises medical treatment he has received since being taken prisoner.

“The broadcast was beamed to American servicemen in South Vietnam as a part of a propaganda series attempting to counter charges by U.S. Defense Secretary Melvin Laird that American prisoners are being mistreated in North Vietnam.”

McCain says he violated the Code of Conduct only when the North Vietnamese brutally tortured him. He further claims that he was so distraught afterwards that he tried to commit suicide. He has never explained why his “aid to the enemy” continued for more than three years.

Even though there are no reports in the public record from other POWs who witnessed McCain’s claims of torture and heroics or his attempted suicide, the American media has accepted his version of events word for word, no questions asked.

John McCain is an expert on what it’s like to be captured after a few weeks of a cameo role as a Navy fighter pilot. but he’s no expert on the Vietnam experience. Though I never experienced a fraction of the pain imposed on Senator McCain, I am, relatively speaking, an expert on the reality of the South Vietnamese experience which was, I assert, the point of the entire sordid exercise.

And that’s the point of all this. We haven’t lost in Iraq. Like Vietnam, we’ve simply taken on a project that we never could have won. That truth brings on board a more important truth: If you’ve never experienced combat, yet you still embrace the undefined Victory-in-Iraq notion, you are a fool.

There are a lot of heroes pecking at keyboards.

Hooray, Hooray, The First of May!

Twenty-one years ago, I helped my friend Bill Sperber create a trust company from scratch. One of our clients was in his late 80s, and terminally ill. It was hard to look at the left side of his neck, caved in from a cancer operation.

He spent the last spring of his life fine-tuning an already well-crafted estate plan. It seemed like a terrible set of priorities to me. I didn’t appreciate that he did it for for the woman and children he loved.

On May 1, 1993, he shuffled into the office, stooped over as always from osteoporosis. with a gleam in his eye and an all-conquering  grin. He asked all of us, rhetorically,

Do you know what we can say today?

He grinned at our cluelessness:

Hooray! Hooray!

The first of May,

Outdoor screwing starts today!

He was dead by fall. But not vanquished.

(Posted a decade later by request and by reverence in 2013)

Coping with the awesome pressures

I’m proud to have served as a a KC-135Q tanker pilot supporting the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane at Beale AFB, CA. The tanker’s the one in front, sporting the prodigious member. This appears to be toward the end of the refueling track, at FL 250 and 350 KIAS, because the tanker is nose down and the SR is in slow flight, cracking a burner occasionally to hang on to the boom at this agonizingly slow speed, carrying 70,000 pounds of JP-7 fuel acquired in the last 10 minutes.
Since there were so few of each, I flew that specific tanker and refueled that specific Blackbird, but surely not in this picture, which was probably taken by the co-pilot of one of the other 2(!) tankers required to refuel a single Habu.
Few realized how demanding our role was, and the great pressures which we coped with by any means available…

Making a difference

re-published from 1/22/2003

Is there any urge more basic than for your life to be of consequence? No matter how we define consequence, most of our instincts and actions seem aimed towards it.

Forging a Confederation

I used to live in Philadelphia and I’d walk around Old Town and I got it that the Founding Brothers were technologists in many ways. They too were dealing with an interesting bandwidth accident exhibiting unintended outcomes. England’s purpose for the Colonies, of course, was to get more stuff as cheaply as possible and to tax the colonists as much as possible. But bandwidth got in the way.

This was such a wild land that, for the better part of a century, the colonies were more isolated from each other than from Mother England. Gradually though, wagon trails were built and it became more convenient for the Carolinas to deal with Pennsylvania than with England. The other virtue was that the colonists, though profoundly different north-to-south, related to each other far better than to the Court of St. James and the East India Company. By the 1770’s, the differences could no longer be ignored. Like any network, the colonies paid closest attention to the highest fidelity signal.

What’s interesting is how few people set the direction for the American Experiment. Only the 56 white guys in Carpenter’s Hall understood what a leap they were taking with the Declaration of Independence. It’s not like they were being closely controlled by their state legislatures which were several days’ ride away. It was never a certainty that Tom Jefferson’s stirring Enlightenment-era declarations of individual freedom would set the stage for their conclusions. He did it because he could and he wanted to be of consequence.

Eleven years later, the 39 signers of the Constitution acted just as independently in setting down the rules of engagement for the people and their rulers. No one paid much attention to their secret work until they were surprised by the many changes the Constitution proposed. The fight over the document was fierce and the debate thoughtful, but they didn’t revise what the standards body had hammered out. So the twig was bent and that was the direction our nation inclined. In October 1788, the old Congress disbanded quietly to make way for an entirely new form of governance.

That was some serious standard-setting. Today, we’re the delegates setting the standards for the world that will follow us. Relatively speaking, we’re even fewer than the four score or so men who did the real work of putting symbols on parchment. Some of the symbols we’re using are pretty arcane, but they set standards anyway, which will mold society as surely as did the Federalist papers.

Writing the Human Code

“Humanity [is on] a personal quest to enlarge the soul, liberate the spirit, and light up the brain. On that quest, politics is simply a roadblock of stentorian baboons” Tom Robbins

So a few will debate nuances no one else comprehends. Even fewer will lay down the words that free our progeny. What works will grow and the rest will wither, as it always has. Someday we’ll see that the Toms, Jefferson and Robbins, were right in seeing that as long as there are willing followers there will be exploitive leaders.

We’re learning how to follow our collective gut, add what we can, use what works and leave something better behind. Maybe this isn’t an apocalypse but a parenthesis and the age of hierarchy is an interruption in organic evolution as it’s always gone on.

Doing sensible things is what makes us consequential.