Archive for January, 2011

Voices Out of Egypt

Monday, January 31st, 2011

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfLOufzTWPs

“I just wanted to let the world know we’ve been disconnected from… the Internet… The last time I was… so scared they were going to shoot us all and no one would know about it. This time, I’m not scared at all. I want to tell them ‘Bring it on!’ Mubarak is going out. Be with us.”

These words came from a woman in Cairo, preparing to take part in the today’s planned demonstrations, which may surpass a million protesters.

This message was recorded from a phone message and published online automatically by  Google’s brilliant contribution to Egypt’s struggle: Speak2Tweet. Now anyone with a phone line has one more way to circumvent the blackout to reach the rest of the Internet community.

Egypt: So What?

Monday, January 31st, 2011

If you’re looking for a simple reason as to why you should care about the civil uprising in Egypt, Tunisia, Albania, or where ever, it is this:

The people from these foreign countries are, for the most part, just like us. If they can overcome their oppressive regimes, then there is hope that we can do the same.

Comedian Louis C.K. Kills People With His Car

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Just one of the brilliant things said by Louis C.K.:

“I drive an Infiniti. That’s really evil. There are people who just starve to death – that’s all they ever did. There’s people who are like, born and they go ‘Uh, I’m hungry’ then they just die, and that’s all they ever got to do. Meanwhile I’m driving in my car [kicking back music blaring] having a great time, and I sleep like a baby.

It’s totally my fault, ’cause I could trade my Infiniti for a [less luxurious] car… and I’d get back like $20,000. And I could save hundreds of people from dying of starvation with that money. And everyday I don’t do it. Everyday I make them die with my car.”

While no one should really believe he’s killing people with his car, Louis’ joke does reveal an underlying truth. Even though we have the means to prevent it, millions of people starve to death every year.

Unlike Louis C.K.’s solution, helping the world’s poorest doesn’t mean we have to sell our possessions and live in poverty beside them (although it wouldn’t hurt for us to moderate our consumption levels). No, we can keep our high standard of living and still help out the world’s poorest.

The real poor in the world – not the moderately poor we see in the streets around us – but rather those who live in extreme poverty, they don’t need money so much as they need opportunities. A hand up, not a hand out, to become empowered and able to help themselves and their own communities climb out of poverty.

Sometimes, this hand up comes in the form of teaching new techniques or sharing new technology. Other times, it’s a matter of empowering the population as a whole so they can demand more from the establishment.

And no, eradicating extreme poverty is not too hard to do. Extreme poverty has been consistently declining for years, and this struggle will keep getting easier to fight. We’re expanding our knowledge base and developing new tools all the time. Plus, as our world keeps getting better, more people rise to a position were they can help out those in need.

Don’t let pessimism dominate your thoughts when it comes to humankind’s future. Great things await us all!

Vive La Revolution Recapped

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

(Powerful video from out of Egypt)

If you want to know what all the Arab hubbub is about, the Tuscon Sentinel offers us a comprehensive analysis.

There’s a hot piece making its rounds by Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge iterating the integral role new Internet tools have in empowering entire populations:

The copyright industry has discovered it. Now Arab League dictatorships are discovering it. Tunisia has fallen. Egypt is burning. Yemen, Albania, Sudan, Algeria, and Syria are on the brink of catching fire, a crimson glow in the night. When people have access to networking, they will not accept repression.

Early reports of Egyptian agents working undercover to incite chaos have not been substantiated. However, considering the way agent provocateurs exist in supposedly free countries like Canada, such underhanded government tactics can surely be expected from Egypt’s corrupt regime.

The Revolution Will Be Blogged

Friday, January 28th, 2011

The  president of Egypt has fired his regime. There, that should appease the millions of discontent Egyptians. (<—- sarcasm)

Wikileaks released cables about Egypt. Another argument as to why Assange should release all the leaks to crowdsourcing – the world needs those documents and others like them.

Anonymous has been mass-faxing these leaked cables to fax machines all over Egypt, circumventing the nation’s Internet blackout. How uplifting it must be for the Egyptians to know how much the world supports their cause.

Jordan has added themselves to the list of nations actively working to oust their corrupt governments. Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, and Morocco being the others. Awesome stuff! Fight your freedoms, people!

Don’t wait for the revolution. Make it happen.

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

balance of power

First Tunisia, then Egypt. Now Yemen and Algeria with others on the way. Political, social and economic reform is in the air!

The thousands of demonstrators who’ve been taking to the streets are expressing a sentiment shared by millions of their fellow citizens: they are fed up with being mistreated by authority. Via this forced regime change, the activists are collectively pushing the balance of power towards the favor of the people. Under new governance, the populations in these revolutionary countries could potentially enjoy a higher quality of life.

See, within any population, there exists a struggle between the will of the people and the system they depend upon to maintain order. The further a population strays from a functioning democracy, the less the voice of the people gets reflected by the system. It is within this silence where injustices go unanswered.

The energy emanating from the Arab world should add fuel to a similar movement that has been brewing everywhere on earth. For far too long, humankind has been oppressed by a broken system that benefits our corrupt leaders to the detriment of the majority of humans. Having grown tired of this injustice, and becoming aware of alternatives, we are rising up as a species. Working together, we’re shifting the balance of the world’s power back into our hands.

It’s a good thing we’ve already begun this movement, since now is the only time left for revolution. Within a few years from now, civil uprisings like we see today will become much easier for the system to squash.

Consider, for example, the advent of robotic soldiers, which will be entirely feasible within 10 to 20 years. Right now, human combatants still have some sense of morality, and occasionally disobey orders. But robots follow command without question and can slaughter unlimited numbers of humans without remorse. A dictator with a small army of mechanized drones could effectively subdue entire populations.

Robotic overlords is but one scenario where technology can be used to control large groups of people, of which there are many. The threat of totalitarianism is real and growing, which is why it is so imperative we ignite our revolutions now.

Fortunately, as much as technology can be used to enslave us, so too can it be used to liberate us. We’ve been gaining invaluable tools in our revolutionary arsenal. Transparency-promoting sites like Wikileaks help expose corruption and can hold leaders accountable to their populations. On top of this, as tested in Tunisia, Twitter and Facebook can effectively channel a population’s dissent into highly mobilized action.

Our new technology, combined with the indomitable human spirit, gives us some real reasons to expect great things in our future. Today, populations from the middle east are rising up as one to oust their corrupt rulers. Over the coming years, the world’s people will follow suit, uniting to fundamentally alter the global system and forever shift the balance of power to benefit all of humankind.

Power to the people!

Update on Egypt

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

The revolution is building in Egypt.

The Egyptian regime has outlawed any anti-government demonstrations and are trying to block internet access to social sites, like Facebook and Twitter.

Protesters and police have both been killed.

Hundreds have been arrested. One journalist had a dictaphone to record his being confined and corralled away along with dozens of other activists.

Regular civilians have been opening their Wifi access to the public, lending their support to the cause.

Even Egyptian police captains want regime change.

Here’s hoping the Egyptian establishment’s hired goons will not successfully silence this uprising.

Protest Like an Egyptian

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

(Al J’s coverage of the Cairo protests)

(Just like Tienanmen’s Tank-Man, one guy stands alone against a water cannon)

Last week the Tunisian people finalized a months long civil uprising that has successfully begun the process of regime change. Inspired by these events, Egypt is now rife with revolutionary tidings as protesters have been taking to the streets by the thousands.

Since they live under a highly authoritarian government, this type of civil uprising is rare in Egypt. But within the past few years a vital ingredient for change has been developing: Egyptians are migrating online. More than 1 in 5 Egyptians have Internet access today. This puts most of the planet just one uploaded cellphone video or a single tweet away from instantly knowing what is going on within Egypt’s borders.

Egyptian leaders now have to make decisions knowing the entire world is watching, and the inherent violence of an unjust system is getting harder to conceal from the global eye. Why go down in history as a mass murderer when you can just skip town and live off the fortunes you’ve got stashed offshore.

Just as it did in Tunisia, Egyptians will be emboldened as they hear the collective voice of their fellow citizens saying “No!” to the injustice. As well, Egyptian angst can be effectively channeled into a well-coordinated movement, letting the will of the people really be felt.

With technology getting so cheap so fast, pretty soon Internet access will reach the entire world’s population. This will enable a revolution paralleling those of Tunisia and Egypt to happen on a global scale. The collective voice of the world’s people will be felt, and it will embolden our species to really let our will be felt.

Humankind is rising up together to remove corruption from the system and usher in a more just civilization.

Palestine Papers: One Step Closer to a Better World

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

We took another big step towards a more just world this week: 1,600 internal documents from a decade of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations – the Palestine Papers – were leaked to news giant Al Jazeera.

THIS IS SO FREAKING AWESOME!

For one, increasing global awareness of what is really going on in the Middle East will help ease the plight of the Palestinian people. As these leaks confirm, the decades long conflict has been a one-sided fight with Israel continually disrupting the peace process so they can keep using violence while usurping Palestinian land.

As well, reinforcing Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange’s belief that courage is contagious, Al Jazeera has opened their own channel for whistle-blowers via The Transparency Network. For far too long, the hypocrisy and underhandedness from members of the worlds’ governments has mostly been unaccounted for, up until now.

Best of all, these leaked documents point to a broader theme – that of a social revolution taking place all around the world. We’re becoming self-aware as a species, giving us a lens wide enough to see major injustices as they happen.

The days where the world’s people are ruled by despotic dictators and oppressive oligarchies will soon be coming to an end. We’re taking the power back!

The repercussions from a world full of empowered people will be amazing:

  • We’ll manifest a powerful, pluralist global cooperative that works together to better the entire planet.
  • The influence of an empowered human race will surpass that of the world’s ultra-rich and the mega-corporations, ensuring the fruits of humankind’s labor get distributed more equally.
  • United,  we’ll be able to dismantle the war machine and forever end institutionalized armed conflict – world peace, baby, world peace.

What a glorious time to be alive!

Recent Rochester Research Shows Mushrooms May Stop Spread of HIV/AIDS

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

In tropical climates, sea creatures produce a working sunscreen should we ever find ourselves stranded on a sunny beach. Once in a while, the antidote to a poisonous plant or creature can be found growing nearby in the same ecosystem.

Now, it seems, nature is offering us a new solution to the AIDS epidemic.

An unexpected find from the University of Rochester gives hope that a compound derived from wild mushrooms may effectively prevent the spread of the HIV virus.

The Rochester group discovered a unique feature in the way HIV replicates within human cells. Usually, viruses will use a molecule called dNTP for replication, but there is a shortage of dNTP in the cells targeted by HIV.

So – and here’s the surprising part – instead of using dNTP to proliferate itself, HIV uses a more readily available molecule called rNTP. That sneaky little bugger!

But here’s the bright side: a drug called Cordycepin (which is derived from wild mushrooms) is known to inhibit rNTP. Eventually, a microbicide could effectively prevent the transmission of the virus. Plus, these findings unlock new avenues to pursue in the struggle to eradicate AIDS forever.

Neat stuff, huh?

Stories like these are why I get so excited and optimistic when I think about the future. As a species, our potential is unlimited. We’ve already done so many incredible things, and we’ve only just begun to unlock the greatness that awaits!