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Wednesday, September 02 2015 @ 03:39 AM CDT

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Donald Trump and Wikipediology

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Here's another look-back to the last election to prove once again that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Try reading this while replacing the name "Palin" with the name "Trump," and "Paul Revere" with "illegal immirgration" and you'll see what I mean.

Courtesy National Archives Administration - Unrestricted useSome time back, I wrote a blog entry called "The Wikipedia and the Death of Archaeology."  The thesis of the piece was this: archaeologists study periods as recent as a hundred years ago, because even with newspapers, magazines and photographs, a substantial percentage of everyday reality still slips through the historical cracks.  If that sounds bogus, consider the fact that several times in your life (at least if you're an American), you've read an account of someone sealing or opening up a "time capsule" intended to preserve everyday objects for about the same time frame. 

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Election Day: What would Darwin Think?

Monday Witness

Last Monday I reposted an entry with a Darwinian theme from the beginnining of the last U.S. presidential campaign. Here's one from the end.

Praises be, it's over — over and done with — finis — no longer plaguing us and finished. I refer, of course, to that quadrennial paroxysm of democratic hysteria we prosaically call a "Presidential Election." Thank God.

Along the way, we heard enough lies, damn lies and Super PAC ads to last us for the rest of our lives, and then some. And early in the process, it seemed like we were living in the middle of the next installment of Men in Black, except that none of the primary candidates went back to their home planets after they were defeated.

At the heart of all this nonsense, though, there is a central reality that never ceases to amaze me: how is it that so many Americans can disagree so fundamentally with each other about so much, each convinced that he or she is possessed of the equivalent of divinely revealed truth while those on The Other Side are possessed by the Devil, or worse?

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Standards of Political Civility and Darwin's Finches

Monday Witness

I wrote this piece five years ago. Sadly, it's still timely today. Only the names have been changed to update the idiots

Courtesy Michael Vadon/Wikimedia Commons - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.Heaven help us all (all us Americans, anyway) — it's election time again. That means we're once more descending into a morass of partisan invective, not to mention lies, damn lies, and (of course) statistics. Except that this campaign year it seems that everyone is behaving even worse than last time, when everyone acted even worse than the time before, when, well, do you sense a trend here?

One hallmark of this year's political "discourse" (to abuse a term) has been the number of astonishingly angry and ill-informed accusations made by some candidates against their opponents (and others). Nothing unusual about that, sad to say. But what is different is the degree of acceptance, and even approval, exhibited by many voters that in earlier years might have rejected these candidates as well as their statements.

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Exclusive Presidential Debate Preview!

Adventures in Self-Publishing

 Readers of my first book, called The Alexandria Project, know that most of what I concocted in that supposedly fictional work turned out to be eerily prophetic. Events that I had made up out of whole cloth began occurring, one after another. And why not? They were all based on genuine, underlying geopolitical realities. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised, then, when events from my second book, called The Lafayette Campaign, a Tale of Deception and Elections, began happening almost immediately after I released it. Like what? Well, like incredibly improbable candidates for president of the United States immediately jumping to the top of the polls, while credible candidates languish (Donald and Jeb, take notice). We’ll have to wait and see whether the explanation in real life is the same as the one in the book.

In the spirit of public service for those who may be unable to watch tomorrow's kick-off debate, I therefore post below the chapter from my new book where I describe the first squaring off of my fictional cast of presidential candidates. I’ll leave it to you to decide on Friday morning whether the real, or the fictional, candidates are more outrageous. The Lafayette Campaign, by the way, is currently and briefly on sale at Amazon for the ridiculously low price of $.99 (and free at Kindle Unlimited). Why don't you give it a try?

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The Lafayette Campaign: First Reviews!

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Courtesy Montanabw/Wikimedia Commons - Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.I'm happy to report that the launch of my second cybersecurity thriller, titled The Lafayette Campaign, a Tale of Deception and Elections, of off to a great start in a couple of ways. First, and most eerily, the rise of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential campaign polls is straight out of the plot (how do I keep doing this?) And second, the first reviews are coming in every bit as favorably as I could have hoped. Below are some shortened versions that will give you an idea what the book is about, and what people think of it.

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Effective IPR Policies and Standards Organization Success

Intellectual property Rights

Once upon a time, if you asked a standards setting organization (SSO) what its intellectual property policy rights (IPR) policy was, you’d get a simple answer: “We own the copyright in everything we produce.”  Today, if an SSO that develops standards in the technology arena were to give an answer like that, it would find that its members were heading for the exits.

What’s changed, of course, is that information technology has infiltrated almost every aspect of our existence, and that includes standards development as well. For example, an SSO that used to limit its attention to setting construction standards relating to heating and ventilation installations will now also host working groups developing standards for sophisticated building control systems.

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An Interview with Nico Laeser, Author of Skin Cage and Infinity

Adventures in Self-Publishing

If you haven't delved into the work of independent (i.e., self-published) authors yet, you're missing something. Freed from the formulaic constraints of what a traditional publisher thinks will sell, self-published authors are producing astonishingly original works of fiction. I reviewed a book that epitomizes that trend last month.

Titled Skin Cage it's written in the first person from a most unusual perspective. The choice of that viewpoint, as well as the degree to which the author succeeded in accomplishing what can only be described as a challenging task, left me more than usually interested in conducting an interview. Happily, Nico Laeser said yes.

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Could a Presidential Election be Hacked?

Cybersecurity

Courtesy of Chris93 and Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.Now that’s an intriguing question, isn’t it? Just about every other computerized process has proven to be vulnerable, and as voting becomes even more technology based, it becomes increasingly vulnerable as well. Computer systems are generic processing hosts, and to a computing platform, data is simply data. The fact that certain information tallies votes rather than credit card transactions does not make it any harder to hack. Moreover, the U.S. has a long history of documented voting fraud, so there’s no reason to assume that politicians, and their backers, have suddenly become paragons of virtue. Indeed, there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary.

When you come down to it, the only thing that’s different today is that altering votes might be easier, and that those motivated so do so may be harder to catch. So why aren’t we hearing more about that risk?

Another good question. But before we explore it, let’s add a few more observations to the pile.

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The Unicode 8.0: A Song of Praise for Unsung Heroes

Monday Witness

Unicode marks the most significant advance in writing systems since the Phoenicians
          James J. O'Donnell, Provost, Georgetown University

What is 11 1/8" x 8 3/4" x 2 1/4" and weighs 7.89 pounds? Among other things, the hardbound copy of the Unicode Standard 4.0, the Oxford English Dictionary of computerized language characters, numbers and symbols, contemporary and archaic, mainstream and obscure. The home of Khmer Lunar codes, Ogham alphabets and Cyrillic supplements. An alphanumeric expression of the means of human communication.
          Me, October 26, 2003, Savoring the Unicode

Two weeks ago, I got a call from a reporter who had stumbled on two pieces I wrote in praise of new releases of the Unicode, the first in 2003 (on the occasion of the release of Unicode 4.0, referred to above), and the second in 2006, two releases later. The reason for the call was the release of Unicode version 8.0 by its stewards, the Unicode Consortium.

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Huzzah! The Lafayette Campaign is Available at Amazon

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Well, it really is a great feeling to push that final “submit” button after you’ve uploaded the cover, the file, and all of the metadata and other information that Amazon asks for. And behold – only an hour later, my second book, titled The Lafayette Campaign, a Tale of Deception and Elections, magically appeared on line. What a great feeling.

Now, don't everyone just run out and order it at the same time. Well, ahem, on the other hand, who's stopping you?