Friday, July 08, 2005

Moblogs - Max Headroom Lives!!

The terrorist attacks in London - by phonecam

As soon as the dust was settling on the victims of the terrorist attacks in London this week, the phonecams came out, and news may never be the same.

As security kept most news organizations far from the heart of the disaster, citizens with phonecams and moblogs began uploading "minute to minute live coverage" all over the internet.

Phonecams...cellphones with integrated digital cameras, have grown more popular, and gained in quality since their introduction. Today's average phonecam has a 1 megapixel camera...good enough for very crisp web...and news...images.

Moblogs...Mobile Blogs, are a system whereby phone cam images are uploaded to the user's blog, and they can add text to the blog from the phone as well. Most moblogs are publically accessible, and the news organizations began to feed off the moblog images, since their own cameramen were kept at safe...but un-newsworthy...distance.

Are we seeing the cusp of a new paradigm in news reporting? Is the model from "Max Headroom", the prophetic sit-com(?) from the 80s, the future of news?

Today, some blogs are very popular...Slashdot, Groklaw, BoingBoing, Engadget, and the current crop of UFO-related blogs among them. If moblogs follow suit, we could have individuals who capture newsworthy snaps consistently...a precursor to "Network 23s Edison Carter"???

Will the streets soon be filled with wanna-be Pulitzer recipients looking for that "perfect storm" of timing, misfortune, and serendipity?

Methinks so.

It is remarkable that we are seeing these sea changes in the way we communicate, and it just seems so...natural. The ubiquity of blogs has come virtually overnight, and I feel certain that the same is true of moblogs, particularly after this example.

I loved the Max Headroom paradigm of the "embedded journalist"...but 24/7 in the streets...capturing the news by being IN the news. That Edison was always battling his superiors, and fighting off the corporate assault by ZikZak Corp., was probably prophetic as well. I don't think most mobloggers will take too kindly to being over-directed, either.

Max, you were ahead of your time...but we seem to be catching up...and fast!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

UFO Fleet Analysis

UFO "fleets"...ET craft or balloons?

I have uploaded a brief analysis of the latest UFO fleet video clips on the site, presented by Santiago Yturria. Access it by clicking the title of this post.

Two single frames are compared to show that the "formation" is very loose, and indicative of wind-blown lightweight objects rather than intelligently-controlled craft.

Comments are welcome.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Military to take more active domestic role

Wherefor Posse Comitatus??

The Bush administration has begun the process of integrating military and domestic intelligence agencies. Another post-911 "necessity". But there are serious problems with this.

The Constitution clearly forbids the military from working as domestic police. And this administration has not done a good job of engendering the confidence of the people. Quite the contrary.

The key to this new policy is that the military would be called upon to assist in defending the homeland against "threats".

Based on what the current administration has considered "threats" thus far, I think handing the military...i.e., the Pentagon...powers to police our shores is a huge mistake.

Let's see...the "threats" asserted thus far...

Iraq was an imminent threat requiring immediate military action.

Judicial activism is a threat to American values.

Gay marriage is a threat to the "Christian" institution of marriage.

The Kyoto Treaty is a threat to our economic solvency.

To the Bush administration, and the cattle who buy anything they say, these might be valid arguments.

To the rest of the world, and to the majority of the American people, they are something else...a political agenda, which can only be bolstered by military involvement in domestic security.

Another troubling aspect of this new policy is the enabling of the President to send troops into American cities and towns when a "threat" is determined.

The Constitution clearly does not provide for this over-reaching policy, regardless of the "good intentions" of its promoters. Posse Comitatus is the concept at play.

Just as the majority of Americans feel that this administration misled us into war, the majority of Americans no longer feel confident in the secretive, counter-intuitive policies of this administration.

For the President to declare martial law is now nothing but a formality.

So, imagine that it is a month from the next presidential election, and another 911 type attack takes place. The President declares martial law, elections are postponed until the "threat" of additional attacks is over. But as we know, the President believes that the War on Terror is an eternal war that can "never actually be won" (his words).

So, martial law can be declared in virtual perpetuity, and even if elections are held, the administration can declare a perceived threat to elections, and station soldiers at polling places. This would hinder the election process, and most likely keep many from the polls altogether. Or, the results of an election can be called into question, and a redux of the 2000 Supreme Court appointment would ensue, with the victor all but pre-ordained since Bush will appoint at least two additional Justices before he leaves office. Is the result of any election dispute resolved by the Supreme Court even an argument?

This administration has done more than any since perhaps the Nixon administration to bend the rules, mislead, hide, ruin others' careers (Valerie Plame), and otherwise undermine the credibility and stature of the American Presidency. The effect is clear from current polls.

This new set of rules is a threat to our Constitutional heritage, and a threat to freedom.

The truly troubling thing is, you'd think this president would realize his unpopularity and refrain from such power-grabs. That he obviously does not should trouble us all.

In America, the only real power the people have is our vote. Mid-terms come up next year. Unless a clear message is sent to Washington that such breaches of our Constitution are not ok, especially when the confidence of the people has already been lost, we are doomed to more of the same.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Tom Cruise believes in aliens. Yes, and...?

Tom Cruise, an actor currently out hawking his new War of the Worlds flick, says "Of course..." aliens exist.

Cruise, who recently made headlines for "erratic" behavior...jumping around on Oprah's sofa, castigating Mat Lauer for believing that anti-depressants actually work, etc...stars in the new remake of Wells' War of the Worlds. His new "soundbite" admission that he believes in aliens.

Some in the UFOlogical community see this as a golden opportunity to get a "real celebrity" onboard the bandwagon, while others see it as nothing more than an extension of his promotional duties for a new movie.

These opposing viewpoints are now actually grist for UFO debate. Is it any wonder that UFOlogy teeters on the brink of irrelevancy?

Physics, Geology, Archaeology, Astronomy, etc., etc., have all survived and even thrived without any "help" from celebrities. Science does not rely on promotors. Real science doesn't need them.

One UFO maven even goes so far as to infer that Cruise, vis a vis his star power, has access to information we mere mortals can only dream about. Really? So, being paid millions to be someone else in a blockbuster movie constitutes proper qualifications for access to secrets, huh?

Forgive me for thinking this is infantile logic, and follow this alternative view...

Tom Cruise is employed as an actor. He has very public, very controversial religious views, which he believes are not subject to question.

As a function of his contract to act in the movie, he is required to promote the movie in the public and the press.

As a function of this function, and as a result of a very logical question for an actor in a movie about aliens, to wit...Do you believe in aliens?", Cruise responds in the affirmative. WOW!

His evidence? Zero. His rationale? Well, "are we so arrogant to believe that we are alone in the universe?"

While this opinion mirrors those of most when asked, there is somehow more legitimacy afforded Mr. Cruise...because he is a celebrity? Please.

I mentioned his religious views because Cruise is obviously not someone who holds his religious beliefs as a private matter. In fact, they imbue his every comment, so devout is he. As is obvious to anyone who has given even a cursory look at Scientology (Cruise's affiliation), one would quickly realize that extraterrestrial life is a given in Scientology.

So, Cruise is promoting his movie, and his religion, with this one comment.

Does UFOlogy need celebrity endorsements, even when said endorsement is clouded by self-promotion, profit-incentives, and religious dogma?

Since the debate is taking place, perhaps so. Apparently, there just aren't many issues worth debating if we've come to this.

But a true discipline...a science...does not need a celebrity to "prosyletize". And there would be no debate of such ridiculous thinking in a real discipline...a science.

Oh, but we're not talking about a discipline...a science...are we?

In the final analysis, celebrity endorsements tend to de-legitimize issues far more often than they enrich or legitimize. Cynical? Perhaps, but I prefer the term "observant". This is particularly true when none-too-ulterior motives are glaringly obvious.

I'd write more, but I have to finish writing this check to "Save the Children". I mean, Brad Pitt said on TV that we could eliminate poverty in this generation, so it MUST be true, right?

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