Ideas for the online revolution.

False Political Polarization: What Happenned to Honesty on the Left?

The left has fallen for the trap. Everybody in the media is saying that the US is at an unpredecented level (in recent history) of political polarization, and we're buying in.

This polarization is especially comical because it is between two of the most similar candidates in recent history. While their temperaments differ, in terms of actual policy there is very little difference between Kerry and Bush.

The Democrats and Republicans rely upon false polarization to mobilize people to vote. They cannot afford to differ on serious issues, less they offend their corporate backers. That's how issues like Stem Cell research become more important than racism (or sexism, or heterosexism, or the environment, or...). The media buys into this polarization because it is also corporate and because it needs to create the illusion of a critical election.

Questions for Electoral Activists

If the candidate you are working/advocating/voting for wins the election now, how often will you end up opposing their policies (either ideologically or directly through campaigns)?

Do you feel that debating whether progressives should vote for Kerry, Nader, Greens, other, not voting, is distracting you from your other activist work? What effect is it having upon your relations with other progressive organizations?

How have progressives in other countries built progressive parties? What can we learn from them?

What examples can we learn from attempts to create progressive parties in the US? (eg read Democracy Unbound) And what can we learn from them?

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Would you like to be able to do all of the things you can do with on your *own* website?


Use this Online Activism Toolset to Stop a US Occupation of Iran: A Story

Imagine. It is spring 2005 and Bush has been re-elected. The Bush Administration escalates its public relations war on Iran arguing that Iran is supporting the Iraqi resistance, encouraging Islamic fundamentalism, a general threat to democracy in the area, researching and building weapons of massive destruction, and violating the human rights of its people.

The Bush Administration is preparing to go to war against Iran and you want to stop it. What should you do?

Fortunately you know about this online activism system that will help you.

(Note: in general most of the things below are possible. Some things are

Yahoo Rank #3

Yahoo changes its rankings. We went from #13 to #3 for 'activism'! I think it changed the algorithm.

This is weird because yahoo still has only indexed 1000 out of the 20,000 pages on this site so we are still getting literally 100 times more traffic from Google.

Ranked #2 in Google for "Activism"

Do a Google search for "Activism". We're ranked #2!

Back in September 2003, I started wondering why some websites got more traffic than others. I looked into how search engines work, read several books (ex. Search Engine Visibility), and started religiously monitoring Webmaster World.

I decided to take a gamble. We were only ranked around 75th for the activism keyword, but I bet that we could make it into the top ten which is the only way to get a decent amount of traffic. Until last night, we'd be stuck at around 5th, occasionally getting 4th for a couple hours - then suddenly we leapt to 2nd. Who knows if this will last or just be another blip on the screen, but it is a fun ride!

Problems with Proportional Representation

If you want to democratize the electoral system proportional representation (PR) is a good idea, but not a perfect one. As everyone focuses on the advantages of PR, in the spirit of critical analysis I will give several reasons why it could fail to be adequate.

Poor People Vote Less
Poor people (and people of color) are less likely to register to vote, and less likely to vote. (Does anyone have statistics on this?) If representation is set so that each district has approximately the same number of people, and if the Census accurately counts poor people (not true for the US Census) then having a district with a poor majority can give them fairer representation than PR.

Search Engine Optimize your Online Forum

If you have an online discussion forum, chances are that Google indexes only a handful of the pages. The problem with most forums is that they use dynamic pages and have too many variables in their URL for Googlebot to understand. Googlebot can handle dynamic pages with only one variable.

If you have phpBB2, a popular forum software, then there is an excellent mod that you can do that will greatly increase the amount of direct search engine traffic that your forum gets.

You can download the Able to Know SEO 2.0 Mod from the second post in a lengthy discussion of how to optimize phpBB2. - Customize it for your Campaign, Issue, or Network

Currently this website provides many powerful tools that you can use to promote a campaign, issue or network.

For instance, when you start a campaign, issue or network you get your own webpage. However the issue pages aren't controlled by anyone, and really you don't have much control over the page of campaign or network.

So we're going to change this by giving you a webpage that is part of the system, but is one that you can make your own.

You will be able to

  • Add a logo
  • Add a text header
  • Describe what you are about
  • Write your own "news"
  • Display events, resources, and groups (or other things) that relate solely to your campaign/issue/network.
  • The buttons for "Add Yourself" or "Add Your Group" will automatically affiliate the newly added person or group with your thing.
  • If you click on "Browse Events" or "Search Resources" from the dropdown JavaScript menu, the default action will be for these actions to take place in the context of events/resources that are connected to your thing. If the user wants to see all of the events, they will be able to click on a link to do so.
  • Show the number of people, groups, events, and resources are linked to your thing - providing users with a sense of the strength of your network and hopefully also its growth.
  • You can choose which functions you want to use. For instance, you might want to not use some functions (like having a database of email lists, or using our campaign updates system) just to keep things simple for your constituents.
  • You Can Hear FM Stations From 1000 Miles Away

    During the summer, it is possible to hear FM stations (and also VHF channels 2-6) that are 1000 miles away using pretty much any FM radio!

    From May 15 - August 15, the E layer of ionosphere will sporadically achieve a high enough level of ionization so that higher frequency signals (low VHF and FM) will bounce off the E-layer back to Earth, instead of going out into space.

    This condition is rare. It is most likely that you will notice it on TV channel 2, because lower frequencies bounce back to earth with less ionization. During the course of the typical summer, I only get E-Skip twice, generally for a period of 1-3 hours.

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