Sunday, November 20, 2011

FTL Crowdsourcing

Recently, at CERN, faster than light (FTL) neutrinos were verified as having been discovered. The team of scientists reported about a month ago that they had witnessed neutrinos traveling at FTL speeds. The experiment was re-run with tighter controls and even better results were observed.

This has thrown up a controversy with most people dismissing it. I am very excited to see where this goes. I am making no assertions about its ultimate staying power but I don't doubt the robustness of the experiment. Certainly this could have significant implications. If FTL neutrinos were found it would mean that E=mc2 is..um...wrong. It would open up a whole new world of physics. It wouldn't allow us to start floating from the ground and traveling in time, our GPS satellites wouldn't implode, but it would be akin to turning a corner in a maze, expecting to see the end and finding an entire new labyrinth.

So it could be cool stuff.

Also, Occupy the SEC. It's a group of OWS people that have been scrutinizing legislation; specifically the Volcker amendment to Dodd-Frank. Well I guess that means that they just got specific. So here's my idea, springing off of that. If we are a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” in Lincoln's words, and if vigilance is key to preserving that democracy, I am hereby proposing the idea of crowdsourcing government documents.

Pork barrel spending is based off an old slavery term. During holidays, slave-owners would get a barrel of salted pork to their slaves and watch as the slaves fought over the best parts. They would egg the slaves on to fight and would bet on different aspects of it. Pork barrel spending is a sick term we use to demonstrate not just the glut of congress but its lascivious servitude to special interests.

In order for pieces of legislation to pass, for the required amount of votes to be found; rider-amendments are often added that are tailored to the swing votes. These amendments often approve funding for projects that will help boost specific districts. An excellent example is the 'bridge to nowhere' in Alaska, a proposed $300 million bridge-building project that would serve only a few thousand residents. Residents of the islands being served weren't even in favor of it. But it would have generated a substantial sum of money for Alaska.

It was literally the cost of a vote.

And so this is my idea. Create a site that takes public documents and allows crowds to scrutinize them for loopholes and riders that are not only unnecessary but exploit the impenetrability of many bills. Screw that. What if there was a central site where people could analyze documents into plain English, flag questionable passages, and use a library of cross-referencing tools to form cogent arguments against big-business? That is Democracy in action in my opinion.