Thursday, November 22, 2007

E8, XML, PHP, SEO, RDF and My Friend Wheel

70 million blogs were tabulated in July 2005 and I hear that 120,000 baby blogs are born into the blogosphere each day.

It seems the explosive growth of the weblog phenomenon worldwide - especially amongst the younger set of internet users - may be due to two factors: (1) the newer blog templates accommodate multimedia encodings which allow bloggers to post not just rich text but also audiostreaming and embedded videos; (2) blogs are interactive and encourage instant feedback by way of comments.

And, of course, advances in software programming have made functions like RSS (Really Simple Syndication) a routine part of the browsing experience. When I began blogging in December 2006 I surfed smack into a wall of acronyms incomprehensible to anybody who isn't a professional nerd: esoteric terms like RDF (Resource Description Framework), XML (Extensible Markup Language), SEO (Search Engine Optimization), PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor - NOT Pothead Pixie and don't ask me why it isn't called HPP!). For someone who hasn't begun Podcasting and who doesn't even own an iPod, all of this was somewhat daunting. Slowly, I began to understand the value of getting my blog listed on Technorati and having an account with

Two-dimensional E8 image courtesy of Peter McMullen and John Stembridge

However, what's truly amazing about these new developments in the web-dweller's world is the exponentially increasing interconnectivity that is beginning to resemble the latest mathematical model of the fabric of reality, proposed by a 39-year-old Californian physicist named Garrett Lisi who also happens to be a surfer - not just of virtual reality but also of some very wet waves. This stunning mathematical model has been dubbed E8 and I don't pretend to understand it one bit, except perhaps on the intuitive level - and I must admit to being drawn to it mainly because it's so aesthetically gratifying! Here's a beautiful video showing how Lisi's "Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything" looks when the E8 is rotated through eight dimensions:

Yesterday I spent a few minutes on Facebook generating a Friend Wheel, which graphically represents how each friend is connected to another and ultimately to me. The sheer beauty of the Friend Wheel makes me happy to be connected to at least 300 people on Facebook alone. There are hosts of other friends and acquaintances who are unlikely to squander their time on Facebook, but if I add them to the mix, my Friend Wheel will ultimately resemble the E8! Mind-boggling, ain't it? Rainbow Fractals forever!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

George Harrison ~ While My Guitar Gently Weeps

A classic number from George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh 1971 (with Eric Clapton on lead guitar and Ringo Starr on drums). The gems you find on YouTube!

(words & music by George Harrison)

I look at you all see the love there that's sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at the floor and I see it need sweeping
Still my guitar gently weeps

I don't know why nobody told you
how to unfold your love
I don't know how someone controlled you
they bought and sold you

I look at the world and I notice it's turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps

I don't know how you were diverted
no one alerted you
I don't know how you were inverted
you were perverted too

I look at you all see the love there that's sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at you all
Still my guitar gently weeps

From the Wikipedia entry on George Harrison:

George Harrison, MBE (25 February 1943 – 29 November 2001) was an influential English rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, author and sitarist best known as the lead guitarist of The Beatles. Following the band's demise, Harrison had a successful career as a solo artist and later as part of the Traveling Wilburys super group where he was known as both Nelson Wilbury and Spike Wilbury.* He was also a film producer, with his production company Handmade Films, involving people as diverse as Madonna and the members of Monty Python. From an initial exposure whilst a member of the Beatles, he maintained a high public profile regarding his religious and spiritual life.

Here's something else that's pretty incredible: Jake Shimabukuro plays "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on a ukulele!

*In 1969 Harrison wrote a song called Badge with Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Pete Brown which subsequently appeared on a Cream album. He was credited as L'Angelo Misterioso, probably to avoid contractual complications.

Project 337 in Salt Lake City, Utah

This is a community art project that opened in May 2007 at 337 South 400 East, Salt Lake City, Utah. An old building slated for demolition was converted into an ephemeral art gallery consisting of 42 rooms. From an initial collective of artists numbering 94 the total ultimately grew to 144 - and they spanned the entire spectrum from street punk graffitists to veterans in their seventies. The results were staggeringly stimulating, as you can see from the photos at

What a glorious way to nourish and celebrate the artistic soul of a huge impersonal city. This is the sort of thing that can happen only in a city with a funky, enlightened mayor. Bravo, Rocky - more power to you!

Mayor Rocky Anderson enthusiastically endorses Project 337.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

An American Mayor Makes A Courageous Stand

We in Malaysia have much to learn from Mayor Rocky Anderson of Salt Lake City, Utah, about moral courage and reclaiming our country from criminal misrule...

October 27, 2007
Salt Lake City, Utah

Today, as we come together once again in this great city, we raise our voices in unison to say to President Bush, to Vice President Cheney, to other members of the Bush Administration (past and present), to a majority of Congress, including Utah’s entire congressional delegation, and to much of the mainstream media: “You have failed us miserably and we won’t take it any more.”

“While we had every reason to expect far more of you, you have been pompous, greedy, cruel, and incompetent as you have led this great nation to a moral, military, and national security abyss.”

“You have breached trust with the American people in the most egregious ways. You have utterly failed in the performance of your jobs. You have undermined our Constitution, permitted the violation of the most fundamental treaty obligations, and betrayed the rule of law.”

“You have engaged in, or permitted, heinous human rights abuses of the sort never before countenanced in our nation’s history as a matter of official policy. You have sent American men and women to kill and be killed on the basis of lies, on the basis of shifting justifications, without competent leadership, and without even a coherent plan for this monumental blunder.”

“We are here to tell you: We won’t take it any more!”

“You have acted in direct contravention of values that we, as Americans who love our country, hold dear. You have deceived us in the most cynical, outrageous ways. You have undermined, or allowed the undermining of, our constitutional system of checks and balances among the three presumed co-equal branches of government. You have helped lead our nation to the brink of fascism, of a dictatorship contemptuous of our nation’s treaty obligations, federal statutory law, our Constitution, and the rule of law.”

“Because of you, and because of your jingoistic false ‘patriotism,’ our world is far more dangerous, our nation is far more despised, and the threat of terrorism is far greater than ever before.

It has been absolutely astounding how you have committed the most horrendous acts, causing such needless tragedy in the lives of millions of people, yet you wear your so-called religion on your sleeves, asserting your God-is-on-my-side nonsense – when what you have done flies in the face of any religious or humanitarian tradition. Your hypocrisy is mind-boggling – and disgraceful. What part of “Thou shalt not kill” do you not understand? What part of the “Golden rule” do you not understand? What part of “be honest,” “be responsible,” and “be accountable” don’t you understand? What part of “Blessed are the peacekeepers” do you not understand?

Because of you, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, many thousands of people have suffered horrendous lifetime injuries, and millions have been run off from their homes. For the sake of our nation, for the sake of our children, and for the sake of our brothers and sisters around the world, we are morally compelled to say, as loudly as we can, ‘We won’t take it any more!’”

“As United States agents kidnap, disappear, and torture human beings around the world, you justify, you deceive, and you cover up. We find what you have done to men, women and children, and to the good name and reputation of the United States, so appalling, so unconscionable, and so outrageous as to compel us to call upon you to step aside and allow other men and women who are competent, true to our nation’s values, and with high moral principles to stand in your places – for the good of our nation, for the good of our children, and for the good of our world.”

In the case of the President and Vice President, this means impeachment and removal from office, without any further delay from a complacent, complicit Congress, the Democratic majority of which cares more about political gain in 2008 than it does about the vindication of our Constitution, the rule of law, and democratic accountability.

It means the election of people as President and Vice President who, unlike most of the presidential candidates from both major parties, have not aided and abetted in the perpetration of the illegal, tragic, devastating invasion and occupation of Iraq. And it means the election of people as President and Vice President who will commit to return our nation to the moral and strategic imperative of refraining from torturing human beings.

In the case of the majority of Congress, it means electing people who are diligent enough to learn the facts, including reading available National Intelligence Estimates, before voting to go to war. It means electing to Congress men and women who will jealously guard Congress’s sole prerogative to declare war. It means electing to Congress men and women who will not submit like vapid lap dogs to presidential requests for blank checks to engage in so-called preemptive wars, for legislation permitting warrantless wiretapping of communications involving US citizens, and for dangerous, irresponsible, saber-rattling legislation like the recent Kyl-Lieberman amendment.

We must avoid the trap of focusing the blame solely upon President Bush and Vice-President Cheney. This is not just about a few people who have wronged our country – and the world. They were enabled by members of both parties in Congress, they were enabled by the pathetic mainstream news media, and, ultimately, they have been enabled by the American people – 40% of whom are so ill-informed they still think Iraq was behind the 9/11 attacks – a people who know and care more about baseball statistics and which drunken starlets are wearing underwear than they know and care about the atrocities being committed every single day in our name by a government for which we need to take responsibility.

As loyal Americans, without regard to political partisanship - as veterans, as teachers, as religious leaders, as working men and women, as students, as professionals, as businesspeople, as public servants, as retirees, as people of all ages, races, ethnic origins, sexual orientations, and faiths - we are here to say to the Bush administration, to the majority of Congress, and to the mainstream media: “You have violated your solemn responsibilities. You have undermined our democracy, spat upon our Constitution, and engaged in outrageous, despicable acts. You have brought our nation to a point of immorality, inhumanity, and illegality of immense, tragic, unprecedented proportions.”

“But we will live up to our responsibilities as citizens, as brothers and sisters of those who have suffered as a result of the imperial bullying of the United States government, and as moral actors who must take a stand: And we will, and must, mean it when we say ‘We won’t take it any more.’”

If we want principled, courageous elected officials, we need to be principled, courageous, and tenacious ourselves. History has demonstrated that our elected officials are not the leaders – the leadership has to come from us. If we don’t insist, if we don’t persist, then we are not living up to our responsibilities as citizens in a democracy – and our responsibilities as moral human beings. If we remain silent, we signal to Congress and the Bush administration – and to candidates running for office – and to the world – that we support the status quo. Silence is complicity. Only by standing up for what’s right and never letting down can we say we are doing our part.

Our government, on the basis of a campaign we now know was entirely fraudulent, attacked and militarily occupied a nation that posed no danger to the United States. Our government, acting in our name, has caused immense, unjustified death and destruction. It all started five years ago, yet where have we, the American people, been? At this point, we are responsible. We get together once in a while at demonstrations and complain about Bush and Cheney, about Congress, and about the pathetic news media. We point fingers and yell a lot. Then most people politely go away until another demonstration a few months later.

How many people can honestly say they have spent as much time learning about and opposing the outrages of the Bush administration as they have spent watching sports or mindless television programs during the past five years? Escapist, time-sapping sports and insipid entertainment have indeed become the opiate of the masses. Why is this country so sound asleep? Why do we abide what is happening to our nation, to our Constitution, to the cause of peace and international law and order? Why are we not doing all in our power to put an end to this madness?

We should be in the streets regularly and students should be raising hell on our campuses. We should be making it clear in every way possible that apologies or convoluted, disingenuous explanations just don’t cut it when presidential candidates and so many others voted to authorize George Bush and his neo-con buddies to send American men and women to attack and occupy Iraq.

Let’s awaken, and wake up the country by committing here and now to do all each of us can to take our nation back. Let them hear us across the country, as we ask others to join us: “We won’t take it any more!”

I implore you: Draw a line. Figure out exactly where your own moral breaking point is. How much will you put up with before you say “No more” and mean it? I have drawn my line as a matter of simple personal morality: I cannot, and will not, support any candidate who has voted to fund the atrocities in Iraq. I cannot, and will not, support any candidate who will not commit to remove all US troops, as soon as possible, from Iraq. I cannot, and will not, support any candidate who has supported legislation that takes us one step closer to attacking Iran. I cannot, and will not, support any candidate who has not fought to stop the kidnapping, disappearances, and torture being carried on in our name.

If we expect our nation’s elected officials to take us seriously, let us send a powerful message they cannot misunderstand. Let them know we really do have our moral breaking point. Let them know we have drawn a bright line. Let them know they cannot take our support for granted – that, regardless of their party and regardless of other political considerations, they will not have our support if they cannot provide, and have not provided, principled leadership.

The people of this nation may have been far too quiet for five years, but let us pledge that we won’t let it go on one more day – that we will do all we can to put an end to the illegalities, the moral degradation, and the disintegration of our nation’s reputation in the world.

Let us be unified in drawing the line – in declaring that we do have a moral breaking point. Let us insist, together, in supporting our troops and in gratitude for the freedoms for which our veterans gave so much, that we bring our troops home from Iraq, that we return our government to a constitutional democracy, and that we commit to honoring the fundamental principles of human rights.

In defense of our country, in defense of our Constitution, in defense of our shared values as Americans – and as moral human beings – we declare today that we will fight in every way possible to stop the insanity, stop the continued military occupation of Iraq, and stop the moral depravity reflected by the kidnapping, disappearing, and torture of people around the world.


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5