A mild Snafusis

Random thoughts on most things from A. M. Craig.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wired Magazine's How To Make a Giant Robot Mech

I never post to this blog anymore, but I needed some place to embed these videos from Wired. For whatever reason, they didn't make it easy to see this seven part series in order. For the 2013 San Diego Comic Con, Wired built one of the most impressive... costumes? Seems unjust to call it that. It's inspiring. For somebody who was addicted to Mech Warrior 2 and Mercenaries growing up, this is a dream come true. I badly want to make something like this. I'm not the only one.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What I Wrote to My Congressman Jason Chaffetz about SOPA/PIPA

Any intellectually honest investigation of SOPA/PIPA will reveal it as a vicious attack on our free information society. The technology is indistinguishable from what is used to control public opinion in China. It would lobotomize our infrastructure. It protects a single sector of the economy by sweepingly restricting the free movement of every other person and entity within U.S. jurisdiction. People will not invest in an ecosystem like that. The economy will suffer tremendously, but even more important than the economy are basic civil rights. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are among the god-given, unalienable rights we defend. Liberty and freedom of discourse fall squarely within our Constitutional rights. SOPA/PIPA grant courts and specific industries undue policing power that will set this country back, probably forever, in global standing on freedom and economic growth.
Mr. Chaffetz, please fight this. Thank you.

Ironically, in order to send this message about privacy and freedom, I had to provide a surprising amount of personal information. Phone number, address, full name, email. Funny... ish.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Not Prophecy, Just Wisdom: Ron Paul Predicts the Course of Libyan Revolution

Let me first establish that I don't know how this whole thing will play out. I don't know where Libya will be a year from now, and certainly have no idea beyond that. But if I were a betting man, I'd put my money wherever Ron Paul says it'll go.

Ron Paul has been more prescient on more issues than the rest of Washington combined. The most recent example is the Libyan conflict.

This was spoken three months ago. Paul has been very vocal about his opposition to American involvement since the conflict began.

Now to today's (un)headline: Al Qaeda Flag flies above Libyan Rebel HQ

I say "(un)headline" because this is omitted from American mainstream media. You won't find mention of it on CNN, MSNBC, of even FOX. You have to go to news bureaus headquartered outside the US, or marginalized within the US. There are good reasons to take US news outlets with more than a grain of salt.

At what point do we collectively concede that Ron Paul really does get what he's talking about?

His voice stands far apart from the rest of Republican and Democratic rhetoric, so people call him fringe unelectable. But last I checked, people from virtually every point along the political spectrum are sick and tired of the existing rhetoric. Who mows Mitt Romney's lawn? Who cares?

Obama hasn't shown any ability to turn anything around. In nationwide polls, Paul matches him as well or better than any Republican candidate.

Any chance we can start to confess that there is only one candidate who understands our policies and the impact our policies have, both foreign and domestic?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Lost in (Dream) Translation

The other day I woke up and groggily dictated to my phone what I had dreamt. "Dragon Dictation" is the best there is, from what I understand. But between my sleepy slurring and a still struggling technology, this is what came out the other side.

"I have very strange dreams last night and dreamt about some space on the entrance space that I was making a postcard for Eric Allman is a little bit scared to be on the edge of space is Alexis tensional dilemma attempts that I was going some place it's a basket of clothes this hospital has cool lift me down stopped and said I had talked them so real pain dirty as my glasses controlling as it was picking up close that truck for my basket close and then maybe I imagine this I felt like to."

P.S. The dream, from what I can remember, involved me writing a postcard, from a space station on the edge of the known universe, to my friend Eric Wellman.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Popular "Unelectable": The Perception Problem Facing Ron Paul

I'm on facebook a lot (too much really; but you should subscribe). Lately Ron Paul has been making frequent appearances in my news feed, where he is always a welcome guest.

I saw a post yesterday that was surprised about Dr. Paul's frequent mention.

The initial post is one we could take days, weeks, or months to discuss and answer, so we'll save that for another time. Each subsequent sentiment expressed in the thread is one I've heard before. After mention of Ron Pauls support for truly free markets, his defense of rapidly eroding freedoms, his prescient foresight of terrorism and economic catastrophes, his reverence for the highest law in our country, and his unquestioned intellectual consistency, the final comment is this:

"[The above] might all be true, but I don't believe he's electable."

Mitch, let's talk about that.

You're not the only one saying he's unelectable. Why is that? What indicators tell you he's not electable?

Is it the polls? The whole purpose of a straw poll is to show which way the wind blows. Paul has performed consistently and increasing well in straw polls. When he's on the ballot, he usually ends up in the top three. He's taken first place as often as Herman Cain and more often than Mitt Romney. If you want to look at online polls, Paul dominates in an almost comical fashion (for reasons I'll discuss later).

Maybe an old white Texan Christian doesn't have broad appeal? False. He's extremely popular with young voters, a demographic largely responsible for electing both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. He's popular with independents and even liberal voters disenchanted with President Obama. He has more donations from active service military than every other republican candidate combined, and more than the PresidentHe has, unquestionably, the strongest grassroots support of any republican running.

Perhaps he wouldn't fare well against the President? Again, it's just not the case. In an article titled "Still no front-runner in the battle for the GOP Nomination" a CNN poll showed that, indeed there is a frontrunner when pitted agains Obama. After wadding through two thirds of the article, the report adds a seeming afterthought;

"Who does best against Obama? Paul. The congressman from Texas, who also ran as a libertarian candidate for president in 1988 and who is well liked by many in the tea party movement, trails the president by only seven points (52 to 45 percent) in a hypothetical general election showdown."
Paul's popularity has only grown since this article was published. Current polls put him evenly matched to Obama, who is spending more money than any political candidate in world history to keep his numbers up.

All of this is record of fact. Yet the refrain persists, "He's not electable." Can I suggest why you might be saying that?

It's because you keep hearing it from the "experts", people you feel you should trust, people who should know. I'm talking about the mainstream media and news.

We all know the MSM impacts the national dialogue. Aside from being a self-evident fact, it's also taught in every news and communication class in the country. It's called "Agenda-Setting Theory" and states basically this: The News isn't great at telling us what to think on a given topic, but it's very effective at telling us what to think about

If CNN and MSNBC decide the death of a bombshell floozy is more newsworthy than the death of U.S. Soldiers, then we end up talking about Anna Nicole Smith instead of the sixth U.S. chopper to go down in Iraq in three weeks time.

Back to the current election; with a candidate performing so well in polls, with such broad appeal, whose popularity keeps rising, you'd think the MSM would have increasing coverage to take advantage of the wave and increase ratings. But it hasn't happened. Ron Paul has been so ignored that he's become the elephant in the room. He was so overlooked at the Iowa straw poll it became fodder for John Stewart's punditry.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2012 - Corn Polled Edition - Ron Paul & the Top Tier
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

To deny it at this point is indefensible. Paul has clearly been given the cold shoulder by the MSM. The congressional veteran of 23 years, member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Joint Economic Committee, and the House Committee on Financial Services, and Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology, has been granted a grand total of 18 minutes, 47 seconds during the last three republican debates. Romney was granted roughly that same speaking time during a single debate.

This brings us to why Paul perform so phenomenally well online. With MSM completely ignoring him, disenfranchised Paul supporters turn to the only place they can, the only communications outlet where their views will be represented: The Internet. YouTube searches for candidates' names show the disparity. Paul has over three times the volume of Romney in the only media ecosystem that is completely democratic in nature.

Put bluntly, he's a pretty popular guy.

Mitch, I hope I've made the concept clear. You're saying Ron Paul isn't electable because you were told he isn't electable. You were told this by people you feel you should trust, people who purport to be expert and objective. But the fact is, self-professed expertise is not objective. The MSM make up a very interested party, and should be seen as nothing more than an extremely visible special interest. You can't trust the words or actions of Fox, MSNBC, or CNN any more than you could trust the objectivity of a lobbyist from the oil, military, or pharmaceutical industries.

One last thought.
Ron Paul is electable. But even if he weren't, should that stop you from voting for him? Is there a prize for picking the winner? After all, this is an election for office, not a horse race.

The sure rebuttal is that by picking an "unelectable" candidate, you lend relative favor to the greater threat, the candidate from the other party. We'll get the wrong guy, you worry.

To any thinking, caring, considerate voter out there, I would hope the options are plain enough. By voting for the beauty queen or party pretty boy, you've already forfeit your voice, and have cast your ballot for the wrong guy all along.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Rebuttal: We're ALWAYS in Beta

This is a response to a post from a friend of mine, who is reticent to fully integrate and rely on social media tools that aren't "finished".

See his post here.

My response is below, with a few changes from the original email (if I'm publishing this, I have to clean it up a bit.

I can't comment on your blog. Is commenting enabled, or am I just missing something? 
SO, I'll email you instead. 
Social media has not only developed rapidly, it will always develop rapidly. Cloud software doesn't have to wait for manufacturing or supplies or distribution. It's just code. Companies like facebook, Google, and twitter employ lots of fulltime coders to do that, all day every day. They're always building, always expanding, always changing. 
Have you noticed that facebook changes their interface ever few months? People put up a fuss for a bit, but then they get used to it and move on. The fussiness period is even getting shorter as users become used to this, as they get accustomed to the fact that we will always be in beta. 
Any company that hopes to stay ahead in the social web, an industry that is direct to a huge base of consumers, and with so much competition, is going to have to always be improving, always updating, always adding, always innovating. 
Part of the magic of Apple is that they actually can release a "finished" product. Everybody else is breaking their necks just to get the latest thing out the door. The culture they've fostered of absolute secrecy is vital in that, or people might catch up to them before they actually release the newest product. 
It's also important for them to withhold some features that other companies would have just released. If they don't have something %100 there, they hang on to it till they do. That's why the iPhone got copy/paste ability after EVERY other phone on the market. That's why the next iPhone won't have 4G. The network isn't totally reliable yet, so they're waiting till it is. 
If the pragmatists want to wait for a "finished" social media, they'll be waiting forever (or buying an Apple product that will soon be eclipsed by their next release). For most consumer tech, it's never finished. That's even a line in the movie The Social Network.
M: It won't be finished. That's the point. The way fashion's never finished. 
E: What? 
M: Fashion, fashion is never finished. 
I think there are probably a lot of people who will be waiting forever. 
The muddled mess has utility, though. Despite not being plug and play, it's very usable, and extremely valuable to those willing and able to get into the disarray that is the social web, with all it's tools and widgets, and cobble together something that creates value. It's like walking into a disorganized garage. There are tools and parts everywhere, some better than others, some expensive and some dimestore fare. But you're going to have to organize it yourself, after you decide what to build. 
To stay relevant, services have to adapt. If they don't, they're made obsolete by competition, by those who do adapt. Somebody else in the garage will make a better machine. So, keep adapting. 
As per the always in beta comment, it makes it kinda' ironic that I couldn't comment on the blog.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Somebody She's Glad to Know

Following is an essay written by my tremendously bright and talented 13 year old niece. The prompt was to write about somebody you are glad to know.
One of the most successful YouTube commercial campaigns is for a tongue cleaner called the OraBrush. Surprising that a tongue cleaner would cause so much buzz, but this is largely due to the hysterical and halitophobic “OraBrush Guy” (I’m not so much afraid of me having bad breath. I’m afraid of other people having bad breath.) … This brash scientist is other wise known as, my quirky, adventurous, tech-nerd Uncle Austin. The semi-famous Austin Craig graduated from BYU with a degree in broadcast journalism. His talent for imitating others and sarcastic humor keeps all those around him in good spirits. He is loud, funny, smart and interested in absolutely everything. What Austin, a fellow “twinner”, loves more than anything else is a good conversation. The economy, music, food, Facebook, politics, school, electronics--he’ll talk about them all. And he won’t just talk. Austin will debate. The man has an opinion and he loves to be heard. Life is full of opportunities, and my uncle loves to grab them. Austin dabbles in gymnastics, photography, critiquing, running, and more. Spontaneous adventures are always on his agenda along with seminars, friends and traveling. It’s a wonder he’s still single! I’m so glad he’s such a great uncle and friend. As he once said, “Friends are like potatoes. If you eat them, they die … brought to you by Austin’s Words of Wisdom, Words of Wisdom by Austin.”
Clever girl, that's what I say.