Free Speech: FEC Taking…

Remember Obama Girl? In 2008 this way cute Obama Girl was a thing. I’m misusing her and the videos she made and making some misstatements and misrepresentations to illustrate what the FEC – Federal Elections Commission – is doing and what it means to those of us in the United States. See if you can identify them before I reveal them later in this post.

That video is from mid 2007. Obama Girl began appearing in 2007 and MSNBC named her one of the most influential women of 2007. Impressive. The video has 26+ million views.

Obama Girl is Amber Lee Ettinger iRL. Her videos are said to have helped elect President Obama. Continue reading

Thinking: The Lost Art

With the recent passing of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia the divide between liberal and conservative thinkers is being dramatically highlighted. This is a link to the most intelligent response I’ve heard: I’m a liberal lawyer. Clerking for Scalia taught me how to think about the law.

Quoting Tara Kole writing in The Washington Post:

And, in some ways, the job [clerk for a Supreme Court Judge] is a strange one. To assist in the writing of opinions, clerks have to get inside a justice’s mind to think as they do and to write as they would. My role was to facilitate his, and sometimes that was easier than others. In one case I worked on writing a dissent — the position held by a minority of the court — with which I fundamentally disagreed on a moral level, but found, as I wrote, that I was drawn to Scalia’s reasoning; his emphasis on precedent, strict textual construction and judicial restraint. While I remain bound not to discuss details of the cases I worked on, I can say that Scalia’s arguments in that case conveyed a clarity not found in the majority’s opinion, which relied on legal and verbal gymnastics in order to reach the desired outcome. His approach had a logic and simplicity that resonated with me, despite my politics. I found myself able to get inside his mind in that moment, to sublimate my own views, and write confidently in his voice. I was proud when my co-clerk told me that Scalia had called it a “knock out.”

I seldom find people that can look beyond their own beliefs and opinions.


“The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, skepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin.”

Thomas Huxley


Inside a Single Cell

Occasionally a project takes me off on an unusual tangent. Researching for a recent project I came across Harvard University’s The Inner Life of the Cell. A medical illustrator David Bolinsky spoke at T.E.D. about the video he was working on in 2007. (A better copy of the video than I show here is at T.E.D., but I can’t embed that one.) I thought these too neat not to share.

The collection of animations created by Harvard for their project can be found here: Harvard Multimedia. The 8 minute video The Inner Life of the Cell can also be found at YouTube, which is what I have below. It is a poorer quality than you’ll find at the Harvard site. If you watch from the Harvard site I recommend you use Internet Explorer.  Continue reading


As race relations in the US devolve there are those that are trying to heal the divisions. This one of the people working to stop the division.

United we stand… pay attention to who proposes segregation, racial quotas, disregard for merit and accomplishment in favor of race and economic status.

Are Second Life Users Different?

Some time ago in the days (3/2012) when the Firestorm-Phoenix Viewer had its brand displayed in the avatar ID tag Jessica Lyon was surprised to learn Firestorm users were abusing those that used other brands of a viewer. (Text Reference TM 21:00± – Video Reference*).



Canary Beck has just written an article where she outlines her rules for blog comments. See: My evolving view on blog comments. In it she writes, “I’ve never in my life been the recipient of the vitriol I’ve received while blogging in Second Life.

I blog and post in various places. I had to think about Canary’s comment. Is SL the worst? Since she used the word ‘vitriol’, I can agree with her, yes. Definitions of the word use terms like; abusive, cruel, and others that denote harmful caustic rhetoric. I’ve seen mean and abusive and what Canary is implying by use of the word vitriol does seem to be a significant characteristic of a considerable number of Second Life users.  Continue reading

American Gun Laws

For Americans these laws are highly controversial. The majority of Americans prefer to keep laws as they are. We see the problem as the failure of the Federal and State governments to enforce existing laws. The guns used in Paris and San Bernadino were illegal* guns. If the laws we have are not being enforced, what makes anyone think new laws will be enforced?

Europeans and Australians think the removal of guns in their countries has reduced crime. But, those people have not looked to see how crime reporting has changed. So, they are easily confused by reports showing crime is down and other reports showing crime is up. The path to clarity is in looking at how those writing the reports count crimes and label what they are reporting. (UK now the most violent country in Europe.)  Continue reading