I spent most of my time shooting video, but did take this still of the blimp from a long distance away. The morning was chilly, and although the sun threatened to come out of the clouds, it never did. About 3 dozen supporters and at least three newsfolk showed up to cheer the effort on, including a lady on a horse, carrying an American flag.
The blimp had a nice launch, a bit later than 8AM, circling half the field as it turned and headed for South Carolina.
A very raw video of the Blimp's launch (takeoff is about 4 minutes in) is here. It's formatted for optimal display on the linux based nokia n800 or n810 tablet with mplayer, but should display on anything. I was going to upload it to youtube, but that seems to mangle videos shot at this resolution.
I'll put more stuff on this blog entry as it gets uploaded. The Ron Paul Blimp site and blog has updates and better pictures on the way...
For more of my coverage of the campaign, Boston Tea Party, etc, click on or bookmark this.
Oh, yea, the Tea Party now has 30,837 pledges as of 9:26 am EST...
After walking the streets for a while, absorbing history - and Boston has a LOT of history on display - somewhere around here I have a picture of the plaque that commemorates the origin of the term "gerrymander" - I ended up at the Boston Library, which is simply one of the most magnificent libraries I've ever been in.
And did you know that at the time of the revolution, and for over 70 years afterwards, the Boston Tea Party had no name, until one day, in 1852 or so, one of the last living participants in the event gave a deathbed interview to a newspaper about it.
I don't have the exact quote handy, but he said no more than: "Ah, yes, heck of a party, that". It was a short piece, barely a thumb's length long.
And from that: the legend of the Boston Tea Party was born. The story rapidly spread across the USA, and entered into our national folklore. I hope someone attending the rally gets to the library and prints this stuff out....
I really haven't the faintest idea what's going to happen. There's a lot of motivated, angry people out there that are a part of this... people that want to see their name flash by on the web and give a finger to the establishment...
But I don't think that Sam Adams and friends knew what was going to happen, either, when they had 4,000 people stuffed into a drafty old hall, on that cold night of Dec 16th, 1773, nor do I suppose that they had any inkling as to what would happen only a few years later.
I keep swearing to myself to stop reading the MSM, and continually getting sucked in. I'm a glutton for punishment, I guess, always looking for an alternative viewpoint in my eternal quest for the truth....
Time doesn't allow open comments on their articles.
I'm not going to read one more MSM publication that doesn't allow web comments, I swear. They just aren't credible. I need some sort of web filter or ranking system that just drops those kind of rags from my view entirely, it would be great for my blood pressure....
After seeing the rise of Mike Huckabee, and wading through Mitt Romney's speech, which basically declares agnostics and atheists and members of other faiths (like Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, etc) as un-american sinners doomed to hell, I got a little worried about my status in the afterlife and in this life if either of those two got elected.
13For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God's sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. 15They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them 16on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.
- New Revised Standard Version (The New Oxford Annotated Bible)
I've seen individuals and families around the world, good people and bad, good parents and bad and, through their similarities and their differences, I've learned things about myself, about others. And after a lot of chewing on the ideas, talking with others and lots and lots of reading about God and about life, about why we are here, animate and with the ability to think, choose and do, I'm convinced of a couple of things.
1. Life is Holy. 2. It is a gift. 3. We are granted Free Will.
Some take that Free Will and go in one direction. We are, indeed, permitted to waste our lives, to destroy ourselves and to poison future generations, even to exterminate all life on our planet. It is permitted.
But that is not what is hoped.
Instead, I am utterly convinced that God hopes we will cherish life, encourage it, embellish it.
Life is to be lived, and enjoyed, and in ways that promote it.
Me, I treasure my time spent learning out of school - summer vacations, travel, my current location - far more than I treasure the daily corrosive conforming grind of school.
Absolutely - more people in America (not just the military) should see the world, and (especially) visit places that challenge their precepts. War mongers should visit war zones, Anarchists, Lebanon, Darfur, or Somalia, Socialists, Hungary, Libertarians, Nicaragua, Democrats, Venezuela, Republicans, China. Stay a while. Learn the language. Talk to people. See things from their perspective.
While subsidies and tax breaks for education are legion, breaks for travel are not, unless done for business. I don't advocate tax breaks for travel, or direct government involvement, there are other options. After all, a trip around the world, planned carefully, costs far less than a semester at a good school, even at current exchange rates. You can even work your way around the world, and stay away from incurring those massive college loans for a while. A cultural shift would be required... "Son, I want you to grow up, and see the world".
A year spent on the road is good for the mind and cleansing for the soul.
Yea, I thought. On the day all the major central banks had to pump massive cash into the system and two days after another major bank had to take 10b dollars in losses related to mortgage lending... someone in the press bothered to think that the credit crunch and housing collapse were real issues, bothering real people, and that some politicians had solutions....
Or, if you just want to hear from Ron Paul, here's his excerpts. What's he saying that the rest of the MSM can't hear or publish?
Aside from this major quibble, the format was far too short per question, but many of the questions were good, and the time was allocated a bit more fairly to all the candidates than I've seen before in this election.
I don't know why I looked this up today, but I'm glad I did. Earlier this year I was very inspired by Randy Pausch, and by a video made of his last lecture, because, at the time, he'd been given only a few months to live, with 10 incurable tumors in his pancreas.
A foggy night in Elizabeth City, waiting for a blimp
I've now been a few miles away from the Ron Paul Blimp for three days. The launch date keeps slipping, but tomorrow is do or die day according to the Ron Paul forums.
From the edge of the airfield, I shot some video of two blimps as the sun went down tonight. One team of people moved one blimp much further down the field, the other team moved their blimp (which had an American flag hanging from the tail) into the hangar.
Neither blimp had any banners or graphics on them. I don't know how long it takes to apply the graphics, but it looks like a tough night ahead for Liberty Political Advertising if they want to launch in the morning.
Around 5 PM a group of Ron Paul folk showed up. I was still shooting video and kind of cold (I am still dressed for Florida!), so they were kind enough to loan me a jacket and chat as we waited for guidance. Around 6 PM security came out and asked us to leave. They told us that dozens of people had been coming to the field all day, but that they had no idea where a meetup was happening...
so it's back here, and to the forums, to figure out where everybody is....
Update: The second blimp shown in the video (and moved into the hangar) is the one being used for the effort. Also, there is now an official blog dedicated to the blimp at: http://ondecember16th.com, with the inside story. (thanks to "BDP" for the comment)
My reporting, such as it is, is still from the outside looking in. I've moved to the Hampton Hotel in Elizabeth City (there's much better internet access here, and it's closer to the hangar)
I wonder how much the smaller blimp costs per month?
I wish I could mash up the issues of the day against these graphs. The rises of Huckabee and Obama in the polls are reflected in the upswing of queries for them, far more so than ratio of news articles for them would imply. And Mitt Romney is getting a lot of queries after his speech, but, as yet, no swing in news or polls is measured. Does this mean that news reporting is far less relevant or more elastic than many want us to think?
I was curious as to what software was powering the presidential campaigns this year, so I did a brief tour of the top websites with LWP's http HEAD command.
It's kind of neat that Romney's otherwise wealthy campaign is using Linux, and no wonder that Fred's technologically clueless one is using IIs, and perhaps I could draw an inference that Hillary's campaign is so uncool because it's not run on a Mac? (Why don't any of the campaigns use a Mac as a web server?) Obama's running on a Personal Web Server, whatever that is.
The final tally: Of the top 6 Republican campaigns, half use a redhat derived Linux, half use IIS. Of the top 6 Democratic campaigns, 1 uses IIS, another uses PWS (Microsoft I think), the other 4 use Linux, or at least, Apache.
I could draw two conclusions from this. Either: Open source is a clear win in the presidential arena for all candidates - or: there is a marked preference for Microsoft in the top-ranked-by-the MSM contenders.
Now, of all the campaigns running, Ron Paul's is the most interactive and untinged by broadcast mediathink. Rudy Guilani's web page has, first on the page, "watch our new ad", and "get your Rudy bumper sticker, only 9.95", while Paul's has a flash message that circulates between donate, supporter messages, discover and imagine, who is Ron Paul, and pointers to videos, and even a supporter spotlight.
Ron Paul's campaign and supporters are almost entirely powered by at least three parts of LAMP - Linux, Apache, and PHP. I can't easily determine from here what the database back ends are, but I would assume it's either postgres or mysql on that side, too.
Now, if I wanted to be truly fair and journalistic and geeky this morning, I'd survey a few other candidate's supporters' websites, and talk about how google news, myspace and youtube and technorati actually work to bring you the news you are looking for, but I have a few other things to write, and some Blimp handlers to find so I'll leave this at this for now.
After fruitlessly waiting 3 days for the space shuttle to take off (and spending a small fortune in parking and center tickets), I decided that I'd rather help get a more virtuous ship get off the ground. So I packed up my tripod, laptop, surround sound recorder, and video camera, and drove up yesterday to Williamston, NC, from Cape Canaveral, FL, to check out the Ron Paul Blimp effort, and see what I could do to help.
I came here, because this is near Elizabeth City - Tuesday's launch point for the blimp. I was kind of stupid in not looking at a map before jumping in the car, instead of just turning my gps on - I assumed that today's rally would be nearby. Nothing doing.
Given a choice between driving another 1300 miles in the next two days, or camping out in a nice, cheap, warm hotel room with internet, I'd rather camp out here and get a backlog of writing under control. Maybe I'll get some lunch/dinner with some Paul folk locally, or be able to help at the field.
So if there's anybody out there setting up for Monday's rally... is there anything useful an old geek can do here today and tomorrow? My phone number is: 973-685-6032, but email is best...
I am pathetically not plugged into new fangled web 2.0 things like myspace and meetup et al. Tomorrow will mark the first time I've attended a presidential rally in 20 years. Ought to be interesting.