Just got a request from one of our team techs, Brian, about creating interactive visuals for our Help and How To sections on InsightApp.com. It’s always good to see a TED video that supports your thinking!
In The Works
Hey all, I just thought it might be polite to let anyone who is reading this blog know that we’re currently in the process of some changes. I can’t say what yet, but you’ll know soon enough. We intend to rev up and improve this blog in the near future. Until then, we may post infrequently. Thanks for visiting us and check back soon!
“Ameritocracy” on the Daily Show
I’ve always hoped Ameritocracy would end up on the Daily Show:
Jon: “I think you’re looking at sexuality and not attributes, and I think it’s odd because the conservative mantra is “Ameritocracy”, and I think what you’re suggesting is, the fact of being gay parents makes you not as good as others.” (Dec. 9, 2008)
Of course, Jon is not talking about this website, but the reference brings up an opportunity to discuss the meaning of Ameritocracy further.…. The idea of “merit” is more complex than one might first assume. In order to create a full American meritocracy, an Ameritocracy, a number of issues need to be addressed in order to find the best leaders, and bring forward the best information.
* What social stereotypes affect our perception of merit? Race, age, religion?
*Is there equal access to the education and opportunities that will bring out a person’s full merit? How can we know we have the best ideas without providing growing room for all sorts of people and ideas?
*Who decides what “merit” is? Do we all get an equal vote in who the most meritorious is? Or do specialists in a given area decide that? Who decides who the specialists are? Is it turtles all the way down?
* How do we manage that fine line between networking and nepotism? How do we search for the best people while still being expedient?
So what do you think? How do we create an Ameritocracy in the fullest sense?
The Mayor, the City Councilman, and Obama 2.0
A few months ago I moved to the DC metro area. During the final stretch of the presidential campaign, I noted over and over how many times the candidates talked about “bringing change to Washington.” That mythical beast Washington was waiting for the salvific hero from outside to come tame her.
Now as far as I can tell in my brief time here, the only politicians in Washington, DC are the ones the rest of America sent here.
On November 8, Americans turned out to make their voice and vote heard, and many stood in lines for hours to do so. But change won’t come to Washington just with one vote. Washington politicians such as senators and representatives have enormous impact, but who waits in line for hours to vote for a senator or representative? How many of us vote at all for the local mayor or judge? It turns out that those who cast a vote for the mayoral election in Wasilla in 1996 had enormous influence on history. Those who voted for Joe Biden in his bid for New Castle city councilman in 1970 cast a very early vote leading to the November 8 election.
The Obama campaign illustrated that massive impact strong grassroots work can have. The American people illustrated how responsive, active and caring they can be about their candidate. Parents took children into voting booths and cast a vote together. Strangers hugged on the street after Obama was declared the President-Elect.
It’s time to take that momentum and turn it into a new habit, not just a historical moment. It’s time to remember that civic duty is a duty. And a privilege. And civic duty is best exerted when the population is civically literate.
Ameritocracy is a tool which helps people learn and educate others. By posting quotes, responses, and comments, Americans can learn quickly whether oft-quoted comments by politicians are actually true. Those in the know have an easy way to contribute their knowledge to the greater good. Quotes made by the president can be added. But so can quotes by your local and state officials.
Obama is leading the way with Obama 2.0. So, what do you, as a citizen, want to know more about – from Obama, from your representatives, from your fellow Americans on ameritocracy.com? What would you like to be educated on in order to be a better citizen?
What a week it’s been, and what night Tuesday was. We’re not gonna comment much further, since America is drowning in a sea of commentary, but we did think we should pick out some of the most interesting quotes from outside the box regarding President Elect Obama’s historic win.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: One promise of [Obama’s] victory is that perhaps we can put to rest the myth of racism as a barrier to achievement in this splendid country. Mr. Obama has a special obligation to help do so
RUSSELL BRAND: I know America to be a forward-thinking country, right? Because otherwise, you know, would you have allowed that retarded cowboy fellow be president for eight years? We were very impressed, it was nice of you to let him have a go
For our favorite quotes, however, such as “What an awesome night for you”, “We’re joined now via hologram…” and “You have earned that new puppy”, check out this hysterical episode of “The Daily Show”:
BTW, the post title refers to Keanu Reeves’ response to the election outcome*
As promised, right now, on election day, is part two of our roundup of the candidates’ statements on the issues.
- “The war against terrorism began in [Afghanistan] and that’s where it will end.” (view details)
- “The consequences of defeat would have been increased Iranian influence. It would have been increase in sectarian violence. It would have been a wider war, which the United States of America might have had to come back.” (view details)
- “The central front in the war on terrorism is in Iraq.”(view details)
- “We’ve spent over $600 billion… soon to be $1 trillion. We have lost over 4,000 lives… seen 30,000 wounded, and most importantly, from a strategic national security perspective, al Qaeda is resurgent, stronger now than at any time since 2001.”(view details)
THE BUSH LEGACY
- “But the record’s clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time.”(view details)
- “Senator McCain and President Bush suggested that it wasn’t that important to catch bin Laden right now and that we could muddle through, and that has cost us.”(view details)
- “Senator Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago.” (view details)
- “Do we share a common philosophy of the Republican Party? Of course. But I’ve stood up against my party, not just President Bush but others, and I’ve got the scars to prove it.” (view details)
- “But we are also going to have to, I believe, engage in tough direct diplomacy with Iran and this is a major difference I have with Senator McCain.” (view details)
- “We’re not going to defeat terrorist networks that operate in 80 countries through occupation of Iraq. We’re not going to deny the ambitions of Iran by refusing to pursue direct diplomacy along side our allies.” (view details)
- “Let me say that we obviously would not wait for the United Nations Security Council. I think … both Russia and China would probably pose significant obstacles.”(view details)
- “I have proposed a league of democracies…a group of countries that share common interests, common values, common ideals, [and] control a lot of the world’s economic power. We could impose significant meaningful, painful sanctions on [Iran]…” (view details)
- “Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.” (view details)
- “For the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as President: in ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.” (view details)
- “There are some areas where the statutes don’t apply, such as in the surveillance of overseas communications. Where they do apply, however, I think that presidents have the obligation to obey and enforce laws that are passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, no matter what the situation is.”(view details)
- “Senator Obama was wrong about Iraq and the surge, he was wrong about Russia when they committed aggression against Georgia, and in his short career he does not understand our national security challenges.” (view details)
THE RUNNING MATES’ ON THEIR OPPONENTS
- “When John McCain proposes $200 billion in new tax breaks for corporate America, $1 billion alone for just eight of the largest companies, but no relief for 100 million American families, that’s not change; that’s more of the same.” (view details)
- “[Obama] is someone who sees American as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country.” (view more)
NOW GO VOTE…
…before P.Diddy comes to your house and kills you.
One Last Look!
Hard to believe, but election day is tomorrow. Thanks to the work of community members like you, Ameritocracy has a rich database of quotes from the candidates concerning the issues that matter to voters. So we decided to help you take one last look at where the candidates stand on the issues. Four major issues are presented to you here, and four more will follow tomorrow. Follow the links below to review, respond, and provide yourself and others with the context necessary to understand the issues and what the candidates have to say about them.
- Obama: “I will cut taxes - cut taxes - for 95% of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.”
- McCain: “[European leaders] use real numbers and honest language. And we should demand equal candor from Sen. Obama. Raising taxes on some in order to give checks to others is not a tax cut; it’s just another government giveaway”
- Obama: “Senator McCain is proposing — and this is a fundamental difference between us — $300 billion in tax cuts to some of the wealthiest corporations and individuals in the country, $300 billion.”
- McCain: “[Sen. Obama] has voted in the United States Senate to increase taxes on people who make as low as $42,000 a year.”
- Obama: “I exempt small businesses from the requirement for large businesses that can afford to provide healthcare to the employees but are not doing it.”
- McCain: “[With my proposed refundable tax credit], do the math. 95% of the American people will have increased funds to go out and buy the insurance of their choice.”
- Obama: “With McCain’s health plan “families will have to go out into the marketplace with that $5,000 tax credit and buy insurance on your own. But what Senator McCain doesn’t tell you is that the average cost of a family health care plan is…$12,680.”
- McCain: “I want to give every American a $5,000 refundable tax credit that they can take anywhere, across state lines.”
- Obama: “We are currently spending $10 billion a month in Iraq when they have a $79 billion surplus. It seems to me that if we’re going to be strong at home as well as strong abroad, that we have to look at bringing that war to a close.”
- McCain: “Senator Obama, who after promising not to vote to cut off funds for the troops, did the incredible thing of voting to cut off the funds for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
- Obama: “Look, over the last eight years this administration, including John McCain, have been solely focused on Iraq. That has been our priority. That has been where all our resources have gone. In the meantime, bin Laden is still out there.”
- McCain: “If we had done what Senator Obama wanted done in Iraq, and that was set a date for withdrawal…then we would have had a wider war, we would have been back, Iranian influence would have increased, al-Quaeda would have reestablished the base.”
- Obama: “We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country.”
- McCain: “[Senator Obama] voted against a ban on partial birth abortion, one of the late term abortion, a really one of the bad procedures, a terrible one.”
- Obama: “I am completely supportive of a ban on late-term abortions, partial birth or otherwise, as long as there’s an exception for the mother’s health and life.”
- McCain: “[Senator Obama]’s talking about the health for the mother. That’s been stretched by the pro abortion movement in America to mean almost anything. That’s the extreme pro abortion position, “health”.”
THE RUNNING MATES’ PITCH JOE BIDEN
- Biden: “Reinstating the middle class, making sure that they get a fair break, making sure that they have access to affordable health insurance, making sure they get serious tax breaks, making sure… we can help their children to get to college.”
- Palin: “Voters on November 4th are going to have that choice to either support a [that] supports policies that create jobs…. Or you support a ticket that policies that will kill jobs by increasing taxes… and saying no to energy independence.”
More to come tomorrow morning.
Squawk -or- A Very Ameritocracy Halloween To You
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`’Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.’
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,’
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,’ said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you’ - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!’
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!’
Merely this and nothing more.
Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,’ said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
‘Tis the wind and nothing more!’
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,’ I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’
Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.’
But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.’
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.’
Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,’ said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.’
This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!
Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,’ I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’
`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’
`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’
`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!’ I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’
And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!