Bill Moyers: Where have the Democrats been?

While the current administration pursues an imperial foreign policy, and an increasingly totalitarian domestic policy, the democrats have been all but silent.
Bill Moyers explains why:

Why aren’t we hearing more from the Democratic Party about this whole range of issues?
I think the primary reason is that the Democratic Party has bought into the same thing. It is as obligated to corporate fundraising, to money, as the Republicans. They have to raise as much money as the Republicans do, and they go to essentially the same sources for it: wealthy, privileged people, the 1 percent of this country that contributes most of the money to political campaigns. So the interests of the donor class come to dominate both parties. The people who get your attention once you’re in office are not the people who voted for you but the people who paid for your price of admission.

Garden Green Muse replaces the 509

The late, unlamented 509 Coffee Shop on Oltorf in S. Austin has been taken over by two employees who are rebuilding with passion. The old place had bad coffee, inedible food, and “yeah, what” service. The new owners bake their own pastries, serve good-but-not-brilliant coffee, have a little fern-bonsai-cart garden by the front door, and are turning an industrial tub-in-concrete slabs into a water-garden in the back. The decor is bohemian-ratty, with art-by-people up on the walls.
One of the owners notices me shift position, sitting behind a table on one of the long benches against the walls. “We’re going to re-upholster those. They get uncomfortable if you sit on them too long.”
There are lamps on the tables, plenty of power outlets, and there’s a brand new WiFi AP (put in last week).
See you there.

Amazon teleports books

Well, not quite, but the next best thing.
Below “add to shopping cart”, the menu adds: Available for in-store pickup now from: $49.99. Price may vary based on availability. Enter your zip code:
Best of both worlds. Find it on Amazon, buy at the closest Borders. Wonderful for a quick fix of the book you’ve been coveting.
I’ve used the store inventory database at Borders before, but the interface is godawful — it takes five clicks, two forms, and a lot of jumping around to get to the inventory search.
I’ve implored Bookpeople, the best local bookstore, to put their database online for years. I’d buy more from them if they did.

Howard Dean Meetup

I went to the Howard Dean Meetup last night at Halcyon.
There were dozens of people in attendance; the crowd seemed energetic and enthusiastic. The event was well-organized, and the organizers seemed experienced at the campaign process.
One organizer gave an informative talk about the process of campaigning — signing petitions to get Dean on the ballot, having fund-raising house parties, competing in the precinct caucuses.
The second organizer gave a very short but inspirational talk about taking our country back.
To the best of my understanding — Dean has no chance of winning Texas, but some chance of winning the Democratic primary. So this is a useful endeavor.
I’ve never been involved in elections before except to vote. But with things like this happening, I feel the need to show up and do something.
I like Dean’s socially liberal and fiscally conservative policy and record. I like the way he uses the words civil liberties liberally in his discussion of homeland security. I really like the way that his campaign is making use of the the internet as a tool for grass-roots organizing, with Meet-Up and weblogs.
And I’m very impressed by paragraphs like this on his website.

The current Administration has defined the concept of national security too narrowly. For example, our failure to develop alternative sources of energy and fuel creates an over-dependence on petroleum imported from the Middle East. As a result, we send billions of dollars every year to countries that are financing radical educational systems that teach young people to hate Christians, Jews and Americans. We learned on September 11 that these schools are prime recruiting grounds for terrorists.
America needs an energy policy that stresses conservation and renewable fuels, including ethanol, solar, wind and biomass. Alternative energy sources are practical, economically viable and good for our environment; they are smart national security policy, as well.

Dean just pulled even with Kerry in New Hampshire.
Here’s the Dean for Texas website and the Texans for Dean mailing list.

Online Communities: What’s New (2)

More on Ross Mayfield’s analysis of new generation of web-native online community tools :

  • Conversational Networks: blogs and journals
  • Explicit Networks, e.g. Ryze
  • Private Networks, e.g. Friendster
  • Physical Networks, e.g. Meet-up

It seems to me, though that these different services don’t represent standalone categories.
They’re features. They work best together.
I find blogs much more interesting to surf than profile databases like Ryze — you get a much richer picture of a person’s interests and personality from their blog.
It would be great to be able to navigate from a blog to the person’s contact information, add that person to one’s list of contacts, and invite them to be your contact (connecting the weblog with Ryze).
In the early days of word processing software, there were popular standalone spell checkers and standalone font packages. These tools got rolled into the standard word processor package.
I’m not saying necessarily that all of the tools will inevitably be glommed together, like a bloated Office Suite. Some features will merge into integrated products and services. There will continue piece parts, connected by open interfaces.
I think that these services work better together than separately, and are part of one emerging Social Software category.

Online communities: what’s new?

Ross Mayfield analyzes the new generation of web-native online community tools :

  • blogs and journals
  • public and private networking clubs, e.g. Ryze and Friendster
  • real-world meeting services, e.g. Meet-up

which displace older models like bulletin board systems and usenet.
Jon Lebkowsky replies that much of the “new online community” is not so new.

We’re building new tools which are refinements of the old tools, and the social practices are clearly an extension of stuff we’ve done all along


There’s a set of bills in Texas, as well as SC, FL, GA, AK, TN, CO, and MI, that extend criminal penalties for cable piracy to the internet.
The bill is very broadly written, and could be construed to ban firewalls, NAT, anonymous email, and any number of other normal things you’d do with your internet connection.
EFF-Austin is working on this, in conjunction with other civil liberties organizations. We’re being quiet about it for the next few days.
More soon. Send me email if you’d like to know more.