It is a muggy morning here in Minneapolis. Lovely dinner last night, but it rained most of the evening, which dampened things a bit.
At Push, the first talk was on Space, lots of pretty pictures, but I guess that I am ambivalent about space, having watched us pump staggering amounts of money into the effort, while at the same time ignoring all kinds of other problems.
Next speaker is Push Singh, from MIT’s Media Lab, talking about artificial intelligence.
Take away….computers aren’t there yet, not sure when.
“Heroes are on a mission, loosers buy the do-nuts!”
Has been demoing the Roomba, fun talk.
Bad day for blogging…I am both tired, and distracted by a bunch of stuff related to ActiveWords in my E-Mail. I always lean on conference people to have WiFi, but today, I think I would be better off to not have bandwidth and to just listen.
Back to the blog world after two weeks of travel, lots of adventures, but that comes later.
Today I am in Minneapolis, attending the Push Conference, “The Geography of Change”. The producer of Push, the lovely Cecily Sommers has put together two days of dynamite speakers. I got tot Minneapolis, i.e. MSP Saturday night, and woke up yesterday to “the day”, i.e. the most beautiful day of the summer. The kind of day that the good people of Minnesota, of which I was once one, live the rest of the year for. It was such a spectacular day, that one is caused to forget how brutal the weather can be the rest of the year. Minnesota is the one place on the world where I think they cheer global warming.
First up this morning is Iqbal Z. Quadir , the founder of GrameenPhone, LTD. cellular phone service for Bangladesh. Interesting presentation, key punch line:
“Connectivity is productivity”, if you can’t connect, hard to be productive.
Adam Smith: Specialization leads to productivity
Specialization needs dependability
Dependability needs connectivity. Connectivity leads to productivity.
Interesting slide on lack of infrastructure, and a note that 94% of borrowers from Grameen Bank were women. Women manage money better. Use money better.
Wrote to bank and suggested that the cell phone could be a “cow”, i.e. the cow being the center piece of Bangladesh economy.
People in Africa who understand the market are really bad people! Market for small arms in Africa is huge. Kleptocracy, if you don’t have a system, you can steal what you need.
Charles Taylor, in Liberia, when he took a town, he would call the BBC, and tell them that he had taken the town. Child soldiers, if you want money, steal it and pay your self. Columbian drug cartel active in Africa.
From Threat to Opportunity.
No place that has a greater proportion of young people than Africa. What’s a youth? Three definitions from the crowd. African stereotypes help sell newspapers. African is really a dump, per one writer.
Somers just used a Tupac rap song to illustrate a serious of slides on Africa. Talks also about how they used Rambo film as a training film. Nice…! Net result is that it makes kids very brave.
Opportunity Part II
Peace is breaking out all over Africa.
Africa is authoritarian…on the other hand voting is happening.
No wars have started in African cities. Wars rather started and were fought in rural areas! War affected youth much more self destructive than destructive.
Base commander, age 14. Lead attacker age 16, head of SBU, small boys unit at age 9.
Rate of urbanization is increasing. In 15 years more than half of all Africans will be in Cities. Word farm doesn’t work with youth. No money in the rural areas. Can reinvent yourself in cities. Dar Es Salaam…center place for rap music. Continent becoming more peaceful, democratic and urbanized.
Can’t develop peace building without youth
So much to work with! Embody opportunity in Africa!
As the readers of this blog and my other know, the ActiveWords Odyssey has taken me to all kinds of great places. Today’s tour stop is in NOLA, i.e. New Orleans, LA, the Crescent City.
I have been hanging with my friend Ernie, as in Ernietheattorney. Ernie tells me that I have got him into blogging, I don’t recall. I am at Ernie’s house this evening, and he has invited some friends over to play their music. Right now Vincent is playing Bach on his guitar, I have a cold glass of wine, and there is a great basketball game on TV. Duke lost, but the sun will come up tomorrow.
Ernie and his friends are playing and having a great time! I am mulling over the meaning of life, and the boundaries seem to be good wine, cold pizza, excellent music, basketball and great friends!
Just before Christmas I wrote a blog post about how I felt about Christmas. Today someone commented on that post, noting that they agreed with what I had written. The E-Mail address used meant nothing, but I was intrigued with the URL that was included.
I clicked on it, and whammo I am connected to a porno site. I was amused that I got sucked in, and disappointed that the comment spammer would pray on my thoughts on Christmas to get me to look at his drek!
Yesterday I got a note from a dear friend that her father had died of pancreatic cancer. I knew a little about his illness from a couple of conversations that we had had. She shared with a group of her friends the obituary that she had written.
In the note to her friends, a group of which I am honored to be included, she included a link to the obituary that she had written and she wrote to us:
“I share it with you because knowing him even a little, is also knowing me.”
My father has been dead almost 36 years, and my mother died in 1985 just before Valentine’s day. I know how happy I am when friends from days past recall my parents fondly. But those events are not as frequent as I would desire.
I grieve for my friend, but I also envy the fact that her father saw what a wonderful woman that she had become, and the respect and success that she enjoys in her community. My father didn’t have that pleasure, and I have often worried that I might not a lived up to my mother’s hopes and dreams for me.
I celebrate the life that her father had, and hope that when I die, my daughters are able to write well of me and my life.
I had a funny thing happen at Demo! I am a huge fan of Demo, it and Pop!Tech are my two favorite tech events of the year, although this year I have been invited to show ActiveWords at PC Forum.
At Demo, there was a very, very pretty woman in attendance. I was with a group of my friends, guys that I really like. Everyone was ogling her. I suggested that I would take some pictures of each of them with her. I did, the pictures are great. Later I was asked by a couple of the guys as to why I had taken the pictures.
I responded “Life Insurance”….no one but me thought it was funny!
I spent the afternoon at the movies with some friends here in Seattle. I have been here for about a week. A combination of hanging out with friends, speaking at a conference and pitching companies on trying ActiveWords. Today I went to see a move called “A Very Long Engagement”. It is a French film, with sub-titles involving a romance and WWI. It is beautifully filmed, well acted and very interesting. The movie rotates around the idea that five French soldiers are accused of self-mutilization, in each case injuring their right hands so that they can no longer be in the French infantry at the front lines.
Suffice it to say if you want to see what happens in the movie, by all means go see it. What struck me in the film was my memories of reading about WWI, and the stunning losses suffered by all sides. Back in the 70’s when I was just out of law school, I rode a motorcycle around Europe for about 10 weeks. I put something like 2,600 miles on the bike, and saw a lot of France. I was in Verdun, toured the museum there, and saw the trenches. It like a memorable experience. I also found myself outside a small French town named Bar-Le-Duc. When I stopped the bike at an intersection I looked and saw trenches running into the forest. The mists were coming up that morning.
The idea that I would be in the trenches, hear an officer blow a whistle, yell something like “Por la France”, and then we would all climb over the top, and get cut down by machine gun bullets was a reality that I was grateful that I had missed.
The movie also did a magnificent job of showing the beauty of France away from the front lines. This odd comparison of the brutality of war and the charm of the French countryside.
One can only wonder what it was really like, as those who were there, have mostly passed on. Perhaps after you see a movie like, you can understand why the French have not been particularly interested in war at any later date. :// .imdb.com/title/tt0344510/