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Discussing the history, challenges and vision for participatory democracy and a sustainable, fair economy.Socio-Economic Alchemist
Updated: 58 min 16 sec ago

Our Choice Between a Strong America and a Weak America

Fri, 2014-11-07 19:27

Near the end of 2008 America was on the precipice of economic collapse –which would have also had a severe and lasting impact upon global markets. Since 2009 we’ve experienced a long slow recovery from the cliff.

There are numerous issues we must face quickly as Americans or America will perish as a footnote in history –characterized as a “nice try”. We can either be remembered as the society that recognized our strengths and addressed our weaknesses –or we can be known as a once promising society that waited for magic to happen until it did not.
The vital issues as I see them:The Corruption of the Political and Judicial EnvironmentInfluence of money on elections and representationRemember one of the key issues in the founding of America - “No taxation without representation”? When we each cast a vote (assuming we do and that our vote is counted), we have an expectation that our elected officials will advocate for our interests. Regardless of your political ideology –do you really believe that my vote versus a million dollar check from Exxon Mobil or General Electric or Monsanto will have the same value with our elected officials? 
The Constitution and Bill of Rights established an intent for representational fairness. Furthermore, three branches of government were created to provide greater protection against the corrupting influence of wealth. My friends that are very liberal with affinity with the green party are justified in their anger and frustration with the present system. My libertarian friends are absolutely correct as well. Unless you are the person collecting the check from Exxon, GE, Monsanto or the Koch brothers –you are completely justified in your alarm, frustration and anger. 
So why are we fighting each other instead of the system that is subverting the American system? –More about that later.
Under our present system it takes generally takes massive amounts of money to run a successful campaign. GMO labeling is a great example –where despite the will of the people –citizen initiatives for GMO labeling have been narrowly defeated due to being outspent by opposition from the likes of Monsanto, Pepsi, Kellogg’s and others by 10 – 1 or more. Media purchases (commercials on TV/Radio, newspaper ads, magazine ads and direct mail are all incredibly expensive.
In recent years the perfect storm was intentionally created to erode our ability to have a representative government. The conditions were set forth by the evisceration of the “Fairness Doctrine” (see - which had provided a mechanism for equal, balanced and honest broadcast time and the recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings in “Citizens United” v. the FEC and McCutcheon v. the FEC. 
More coming ...Influence of money on appropriations
Voter RightsVoter ResponsibilitiesGrowing economic inequalityTax code and policyMinimum versus living wages
Healthcare costsProactive/Preventative versus reactive costsIndividual responsibilityFood/Beverage/Tobacco ResponsibilityEmployer versus FederalMilitary costsEducationRacism and Gender inequalityPrivatizationEnergySecurity and DefenseDomestic SecurityMediaImmigrationDrug Policy, Police and PrisonsAcknowledging our Imperfect HistoryCultural Societal Illness What Can We Do?

Quiet and Unquiet Heroes -Labor Day 2013 Reflections

Mon, 2013-09-02 20:40
I am grateful for all of the sacrifices of those that stood up to massive wealth and formed our labor unions. There are many heroes that marched together (often at great peril) so that we could enjoy holidays, weekends, competitive salaries and benefits.

The massive wealth (such as the Koch Brothers and the WalMart/Walton heirs) that are continuing to buy Congress and State Governments (Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Rick Scott, etc) -in order to undo collective bargaining and eviscerate unions are weakening America faster than any terrorist organization could. The erosion of the middle class (which was the driving force behind the strength of the American economy) continues to threaten the economic health of America -and leads us to trade our long term future for short term needs.

While labor needs to modernize and align with the overall goals and objectives of American society -without them our children would be staring into a future of flipping burgers for minimum wage until they turn 70 and their retirement security is replaced with a job as a greeter at WalMart.

So for the AFL-CIO, the SEIU, AFSCME and all other labor unions in America and around the world -I celebrate this day with you -and hope we can celebrate far more in the upcoming 2014 and 2016 election cycles!

What Progressives Can Learn From Massively Parallel Computing Architectures

Tue, 2013-06-18 22:30
Massively Parallel Computing Architectures and the Progressive Mindset.

Recent discussions with friends and peers prompted me to share some key perspectives on progressive versus neoconservative behavioral styles.

My observation back in 2003 was that the neocon machine is very much like a mainframe (highly-centralized) computing architecture. They readily work together toward a common goal -and behaviorally it is much easier for them to work together on common interests. Their behavioral style lends itself well to a typical hierarchical structure and many are happy to passively follow along with the centralized plan or platform.

Progressives are highly individualized and don't necessarily follow along with any plan. Progressives question authority and do not generally respond well to a rigid hierarchical structure. We respond more to peer to peer structures -and are (in my observation) similar to a massively parallel computing architecture. The biggest obstacle we face is that there still needs to be some generally accepted plan to achieve a progressive outcome and while we may all be focused in our respective areas of passion and advocacy -there still needs to be a mechanism to communicate with each other, articulate a cohesive vision or platform and work toward it in a mostly autonomous manner (consistent with our behavioral style). For massively parallel compute architectures to be successful -there must be a messaging and coordination layer -which orchestrates activity between all of the autonomous "nodes". This layer (or backplane) is what remains largely undefined (from my perspective) and when we finally develop an adaptive "backplane" we will be able to drive a socio-economic and political agenda that just might save the planet and humanity (provided we are not too late).

Exxon Hates Your Children

Wed, 2012-12-05 15:45

We at absolutely love and support this commercial from Oil Change International and The Other 98%. While we really need funding -so do they to get this project on the air and into millions of homes. Please visit to find out how you can help sponsor this important broadcast.

GMO Lobbying, Consumer Right to Know and alonovo

Sat, 2012-11-10 19:25

Please share far and wide! will soon be providing easy to use information on the web and mobile devices -as to which Companies supported consumer's right to know about products containing GMO's -and which companies are on the wrong side of history.

While great organizations like California Right to Know will continue the political fight -lets hit bad companies in their most sensitive spot. You know ... right in their quarterly results.

EU Implements "Robin Hood" Tax

Sat, 2012-10-27 17:25

This is excellent. The reason is that speculative short term investment is seeking to transfer capital and wealth -and this tax will raise the cost of speculative transactions (thus encouraging longer term capital investment that adds jobs while growing/strengthening the economy). It's really a tax on gambling -and goes to the heart of some of our thoughts about transfers of wealth as opposed to meaningful creating of value.

The case for alonovo ...

Mon, 2012-10-22 20:08

The fundamental reason that the alonovo concept is becoming more relevant than ever is that we spend much of our societal focus now debating issues that were resolved (or should have been) long ago. The fact that we debate women's rights, fair pay, anti-discrimination, trickle-down economics and foreign policy that is war and not diplomacy focused is due to economics. The last few generations have embraced policies that have directed the flow of capital to companies (and their investors) that add little to no value -they externalize their costs through pollution, plundering resources, abuse their workforce and corrupt government. Koch industries, WalMart, Halliburton, Big Oil -are all leading examples of such entities. As a people until we either insulate the political process from money (unlikely post-Citizens United) -the market is the place where we can add the engine that can connect demand affinity to companies operating in a fair and sustainable manner -which tends to drive capital to more evolved, socially responsible management and investors. It also provides natural societal protection against companies externalizing costs (as Chevron does -in Ecuador as well as in Richmond, California) where governmental protection and/or judicial relief may ebb and flow with the political landscape -consumers can make value-aligned decisions.

David versus MONSANTO...

Thu, 2012-09-20 19:35
As Californians fight to win a Yes on 37 campaign (proper labeling of Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMO's), massive amounts of money are being poured in by Monsanto, WalMart and other companies and lobbyist groups to defeat the measure.

The fight serves as a reminder as to why political lobbying by corporations (and especially in light of the "Citizens United" U.S. Supreme Court decision -connecting money to speech -and tenuously connecting corporations as "people with free speech rights") typically erodes societal protections for the pursuit of profit.

Monsanto has gained a great deal of exposure (which they continue to attempt to avoid) for their continuing strategy to control world food supply. This -as well as the strategy they use to gain more power -through intimidation -is sinister -and I believe that if more people were aware of their egregious behavior -we would all be working together -Democrats, Republicans, Greens and Libertarians -to revoke the corporate charter of Monsanto.

In is unusual and noteworthy when a small farmer faces the legal team afforded by one of the worlds largest multinational corporation -and wins.

The following article -written by friend and attorney Oscar Michelen describes the counter strategy employed by the small family farmer that not only beat Monsanto -but established important legal precedent to hopefully be a foundation for other small farmers to stop Monsanto and others that attempt to grow revenue and profit through legal intimidation.

Executive Pay Ratio's, Walmart and Rob Walton

Wed, 2012-09-19 20:59
Equitable executive compensation is an important factor in assessing corporate behavior. People that have driven innovation, assumed great personal risk and have created successful new businesses or even industries should be rewarded. Inher
iting a significant amount of wealth and reaping the rewards of prior generations creates no jobs or value -unless that wealth is directed at improving the quality and dignity of life. While buying four Ferrari's may help the vast network of Ferrari mechanics -it really does very little for America or the world. 

Rob Walton is a poster boy for inherited privilege and is a compelling case study for progressive and fair taxes.
And is another reason you will never find us at a Walmart.
Image courtesy

The Rising Costs of Low, Low Prices

Wed, 2012-05-02 19:50

Wal*Mart  (and people that consume from Wal*Mart) are creating a secondary wave of horror. Unionized stores (such as family-owned Raley's, HQ'd in Sacramento) are being squeezed between Wal*Mart prices and their unions (UFCW) and there may soon be a strike. As a result -more consumers will shift to Wal*Mart (as opposed to crossing picket lines at Raley's and other grocers that are in contract negotiations -Safeway, SaveMart) and potentially cause non-union consolidation in the supermarket and retail store industry in Northern California. 
While the UFCW should make every attempt to negotiate and advocate on behalf of its members -there should be constant and growing pressure to unionize Wal*Mart -and hold it accountable to pay fair/living wages and benefits to its workers. Without such pressure -Wal*Mart will continue to finish the job started by the Reagan administration -the elimination of collective bargaining. 
For those that don't think unions serve any purpose anymore -the next time you are enjoying a BBQ on a weekend, the reason there is a weekend is because of unions and collective bargaining. Don't think for a second that the extreme wealth behind Corporate America would implement any policy that did not involve transferring additional wealth to themselves -through our labor, Monday - Friday and Saturday/Sunday if they can. This is why the Koch Brothers are funding cheerleaders for wealth such as Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Placing political and economic pressure on unions at a time in which they have been weakened -the multi-faceted attack on unions is an attempt to remove a significant protection society has against extreme wealth and power.

Infrequently Asked Questions -interactions with students from Calif. State Univ. at Dominguez Hills

Mon, 2012-04-23 23:45

Recently I was honored to be asked to guest lecture at California State University, Dominguez Hills. My topic was Corporate Social Behavior and I covered advertising, junk science (see tobacco and oil companies), externalities, lobbying and how consumers can (and must engage) as government regulation, enforcement and protection ebbs and flows based upon the political climate (as does the ability to obtain protection through the courts).

The presentation is available at and the terrific questions and my hopefully adequate responses follow.
Question: Alonovo allows consumers to generally understand a company's values.  But how do you get consumers to care about a company's social/environmental responsibility?  Especially to care enough to stop shopping with a specific company.  Answer: Many people already care and will avoid –generally on the basis of an egregious and very visible event or labor/environmental action. The issue is really sustaining consumer behavior –and not just boycotting/avoidance –but offering good alternatives that will not impose significant economic or convenience barriers.
Question: The website states that when we spend our money to purchase a product or a service we are supporting behaviors of the company. That is understandable but how difficult does it become to choose a company with a positive supportive culture? Many companies outsource, our do not have morally right behaviors, however when money is a main concern on many minds it becomes difficult to ignore other factors. Do you ever think it is a better idea to change the companies behavior or the purchasers support?Answer: True –many companies (large and small) have a vast array of suppliers. We want to hold them accountable for their supplier choices and therefore –supply chain selectivity is one of the attributes we will use to provide a grade. And I think we want to really affect both company and consumer behavior –although our first priority is to mitigate corporate externalities.
Question: I have been following the controversy surrounding the Shell Corporation, and I am wondering how you would frame the issue of sustainability in terms of the oil business?  I think Shell is attempting to drill in Alaska presently, and the oil business is very destructive to the environment--would this mean the focus would be on outside contributions more so than sustainability?Answer: When all companies within an industry segment are poorly rated on environmental issues –we can certainly look at other attributes –such as labor issues, ethics/governance issues, etc (although my best advice would be that if an entire industry is harming a critical social/environmental factor –perhaps we should be abandoning consumption that is perpetuating behavior –ie.- moving to walking, biking, mass transit and electric vehicles to reduce our participation.)
Question: How can we be socially conscious when buying clothes, since very few clothes are made in the U.S. anymore? Is it always possible to vote with our dollars?Answer: Supply chain selectivity allows us to hold GAP, Old Navy and others accountable for their supplier/textile choices. And yes –especially within a sometimes capitalist system (bailing out banks and insurance companies isn’t necessarily a behavior one would expect of Milton Friedman’s idea of a free market) –it is always possible and important to try to do so.
Question: What has been the most difficult part about talking to consumers?Answer: The most difficult is our reach –getting the word out about alonovo is incredibly expensive so we rely on earned media (news stories, blogs and articles about our new/emerging industry).
Question: In your experience, has there been a turn around about how consumers spend their money?Answer: Yes- when there is a sustained action or campaign –there is absolutely direct evidence that consumers will avoid and drive collective action. We hope to evolve and refine such collective action by not only targeting avoidance –but positive alternatives.
Question: What are your techniques to empower consumers?Answer: It comes down to knowledge is power. It really is.
Question: What impact will the outcome of the presidential election have on corporate ethics in the not so distant future?   How much different will things be with an Obama victory vs. a Romney victory?Answer: If Romney wins –alonovo and concepts like it will be even more important –it may be the last piece of societal protection we have against a profit motive that is not tempered by sustainability. We’d also likely see less transparency in reporting of toxic emissions, labor issues and class action lawsuits.
Question: Do you think the major corporations are harmful to society even though they give jobs to a lot of people, how so?Answer: My perspective is that I want an array of legal operating structures for business (such as a corporation) –that best support economic growth and expansion –provided it is accomplished in a manner that is sustainable and will have a positive outcome for society without diminishing our environment, resources and commons. Some corporations that attempt to externalize a significant part of the costs to drive profit –in my mind are criminal.
Question: What made you decide to start alonovo? What experience did you have starting your own company?Answer: I actually didn’t want to start it. I was well-compensated at Oracle –and as I thought of the concept tried to get Working Assets (now CREDO Mobile) behind the idea. When they couldn’t –I felt I had to –when we know that something is right –and has the potential of improving the quality and dignity of life everywhere –what could be more important? While I had not formed a business –I surrounded myself in 2005 with some great mentors with a track record of startup through successful IPO’s (initial public offerings)
Question: Since the founding of have you seen an increase ordecrease in companies becoming sustainably ethical?Answer: There is a decided increase –that I cannot take credit for. It is concern over climate change, ethical concerns about sweatshop labor conditions, media exposure of runaway executive pay ratio and unethical behavior by financial institutions that have created more focus.
Question: What is being rated in the companies what work with amazon? And if their ratings are very low, does amazon stop doing business with them?Answer: We no longer have a relationship with amazon because of their labor and lobbying practices. Nevertheless –we do not seek to cause products to no longer be available (except of course for something toxic or unsafe) –we want to report and then allow consumers to (hopefully) make informed decisions.

Question: How can we find out what corporation's motives are or what they stand for or support in regards to greed? For example we know things about wal mart but how can we find out things about other corporations that we are not aware if as the public?Answer: We hope to do that for you –by acquiring data about the attributes that are published on (as well as the sources of such data) we hope to be a one-stop shop to help you and others understand the social, labor and environmental behaviors of a company.
Question: Considering the unique rating system of Alonovo, has there been any cases of opposition and support from different organizations (aside from Amazon)?Answer: We’ve not had any opposition as yet –I suspect we are too small and in our infancy. We’ve had decent support from the executives/ceo’s and CSR leads of companies that are actually evolving toward sustainability –and are anxious to have their results published in a trusted and independent manner.
Question: What benefits or empowerment does the low socioeconomic consumers gain from participating in your program? Seems like this program is designed for the privileged who already have everything they need?Answer: I’m very sensitive to digital and economic divide –I want the service to be available and to be used by all. Realistically –the closer we get to the poverty line and below –the less (if any) price elasticity a consumer has. By focusing those that are using the system on fair labor issues –we hope to direct more purchases toward companies supporting a living wage –and therefore have less people at or below poverty.
Question: Is consumer empowerment a luxury only for the middle class?Answer: Good question –consider this –the success of Cesar Chavez and the UFW –was the impact limited to the middle class? I’d say consumer empowerment through knowledge will benefit all.
Question: How do we empower ourselves as consumers? Is this even possible?Answer: Knowledge is power –don’t perpetuate egregious/harmful behavior by directing your purchases toward evolved/evolving companies whenever possible.
Question: What happens after society is informed about cooperate behavior, but are still forced to shop at these companies because they can't afford to shop at other companies?Answer: What impact do you think there would be on WalMart if 10% of WalMart consumers switched to Costco? The impact on their quarterly results (and Costco’s) would be dramatic and force change. We don’t need everyone to drive sweeping environmental, labor and social reform (although I want everyone!)
Question: How should consumers consider ethical consumerism during economic hardships when companies like Wal-Mart appease consumers' wallets but have unethical practices?Answer: Price elasticity expands and contracts on the basis of economic strength. Nevertheless –even a small percentage of demographic can make a significant difference in the corporate profit/loss statement –and if we can get Wal*Mart (and other poorly performing companies) to start incrementally changing behavior to reacquire customers –I’d be delighted.
Question: What inspired you to create an organization like Alonovo?Answer: I think many people are politically disenfranchised –however economics is the real battlefield. I want to empower our society –so whether it is a Wal*Mart greeter or a textile worker in a developing country –people and planet are treated with respect.
Question: How does Polisner market  to the public and how will it continue to help the environmental movement? Are there any changes that can still be done better? I've not been aware of  until todayAnswer: Yes –marketing and advertising is very expensive –as we develop our product –and when it is ready we will work with media to try to get news stories, articles and blogs about us.
Question: What is your biggest concern regarding corporate behavior?Answer: Really all of it. I think there should be an absolute partnership between business and society. I think economic growth and opportunity is important –but not at the expense of life, nature and the beauty that surrounds us. There is a balance which has been largely ignored for the pure pursuit of profit. As America is the most significant consumer base in the world –it is important for us to drive sustainable and responsible business behavior –and without adequate and consistent government regulation and enforcement it is up to each of us.

Tea Party and Occupy Agree on a Very Bad Tax

Fri, 2012-03-02 16:19
Liberal/progressives generally consider taxes to be an investment in our societal infrastructure. Roads/highways, transportation, education, national security, environmental protection, food/agricultural protection, scientific research and other key initiatives that require such massive scale -they necessitate funding from all of us if we want to participate in an advanced society that provides world-class education and infrastructure.
Conservatives might argue that while some of the infrastructure initiatives are important -private industry can deliver with greater efficiency than government. They will often look to support candidates that want to "streamline or reduce" government in order to minimize the taxes we all must pay.
(Vote on the latest poll! -visit
What would my conservative and liberal friends say if I were proposing to implement a tax of, lets say 20% on all of our income? And this tax was not going to be used to fund any services whatsoever for the public. In fact ... what if this tax was going to take money from all and then write one big check to the wealthiest people in America? If you are a member of the Tea Party -would you support this tax? If you are a member of Occupy -would you?
This tax can't exist, right? Well I hate to share bad news but it does. It's called (in economic terms) an externality. All major for-profit corporations attempt to maximize profit and return as much (profit) as it can to its investors. This is not inherently evil -a profitable company makes money for investors who can then (theoretically) invest in more companies and stimulate growth. The problem is many companies will do all they can to shift what should be their costs to all of us. Because when corporations have less expenses they make more money. Think of it this way -if you ran an extension cord to your neighbor's home and started to take their electricity -you would be stealing (but lowering the costs of powering your home). When an oil company poisons the air in places like Martinez or Richmond, California -or the Ocean (Deepwater Horizon, ExxonValdez), or rivers -they are stealing clean air, water and other valuable resources from all of us -and transferring the costs or expenses of oil energy to all of us. It is a hidden tax.
So while I haven't seen the Tea Party and the Occupy movement shaking hands yet -I hope to see the anger and frustration they both share directed against companies all over the world that are taxing and stealing from all of us as they externalize their costs. Economic growth and profit are not bad -however should be sustainable and fair. Corporations should account for the true costs and not shift them to generally the most fragile and vulnerable populations in America and throughout the world.
We Agree?

alonovo and Netroots Foundation ...

Mon, 2012-02-13 06:38

alonovo research, inc. announces 501c3 fiscal sponsorship agreement with Netroots Foundation.

Sacramento, CA, February 10, 2012 - alonovo research inc. has announced the signing of a fiscal sponsorship agreement with Netroots Foundation. The agreement will provide the operating structure for alonovo to pursue it’s mission -to create consumer and institutional procurement demand affinity with products and services offered by companies that are evolving to embrace a triple bottom line.

George A. Polisner, Executive Director at alonovo research, inc. stated “The agreement will allow us to focus on the identification, acquisition and integration of trusted corporate social behavior (more commonly, corporate social responsibility or ‘CSR’) data, educational content and media creation all in parallel to raising donations and sponsorship to support our work. We have deployed a publicly available prototype at We are very excited to be working under the auspices of Netroots Foundation and have deep appreciation for their work in the areas of justice, equality, economics and participatory democracy.”

alonovo research, inc. is dedicated to providing trusted, easy-to-understand grades relating to real corporate performance on labor, environment and social responsibility areas such as workforce stability, executive pay ratios, lobbying practices, polluting emissions and waste. The alonovo mission is to catalyze a constructive relationship between an informed market demand and the business supply and distribution chain. This accelerates the "race to the top" among businesses that are working to balance life, planet and profit. It has evolved from the concept that originated in 2005.

Netroots Foundation brings together online citizens across America, injects progressive voices into the national conversation and advances the values of justice, equality and community in our nation’s politics. With technology, the information revolution and online communities changing the very nature of civic engagement, we seek to accelerate the understanding and support of this fundamental shift in participatory democracy.

For further information about alonovo research, inc. phone 916.822.4155, or email

Corporate Social Behavior Index -alonovo version 3.0

Wed, 2011-03-30 06:21

A working draft of version 3.0 company data attributes is available for review in google docs.

The late, late alonovo 2.0 Beta

Sun, 2009-03-01 19:14

is nearing completion and due to be released later this month. It is a complete rewrite of alonovo. The alonovo/amazon shopping experience is better and faster.

The registered alonovo community will have the ability to choose their favorite and most hated corporations, comment on blogs and rate blogs and comments and more.

alonovo 1.2 Soft Launch

Sat, 2008-08-02 19:20

We hope you enjoy the updates to the alonovo site as we move forward with a major rewrite that we will launch later this year. While some of the changes are cosmetic, we will be adding some new functionality that (with your help) will create more revenue share for our family of beneficiary organizations.

As always we are very grateful to all of you that use the service and help us grow.

A Brief Jena 6 Update -

Tue, 2007-07-31 23:48
I made the drive from Austin to Jena, Louisiana and attended a protest earlier today.(you can read more about the background at

In the photo to the left -the families of the imprisoned youth speak out -many of their mothers and fathers are ex-military.

What strikes me as remarkable is the courage and resolve of the people I spoke with and at the same time, thinking that Dr. King Jr. gave his brilliant "I Have a Dream Speech" almost 44 years ago, yet here we still are.

The photo below is the march from the courthouse through the small town and back to the courthouse.

I was really glad to make the drive and be here, as much theoretical socio-economic stuff I do behind a keyboard when you have the opportunity to venture out and support people that are speaking truth to power it provides a deep well of motivation and inspiration.

Ready, set, Action -

Mon, 2007-07-30 18:00
After too long behind a keyboard trying to incrementally drive positive societal change, the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. boom and echo through the back of my mind.

"We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now the time has come to make real the promises of Democracy; now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice; now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood ..." (I Have a Dream, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. -August 28, 1963).

So today, right after a critical strategy call for (which holds the potential for badly needed development resources and a more robust method for more comprehensive social behavior data about corporations, I'm off to Jena, Louisiana to support the Jena 6.

A note to friends at NASA CoLab

Wed, 2007-05-02 14:48
I'd sent the following in email to a dear friend (I won't name names, let's just call him "Andrew" for now) who continually counter-balances my Andy Rooney-ish tired crankiness with youthful optimism and intelligence. He was an early mentor on what was to eventually become and helped connect me to some amazing people at CivicSpace Labs. While I'm not deluded (enough, yet) to think that my notes are all that interesting, he encouraged me to blog this, so here it is ...

The more I think of some of the discussions we had at the Thai restaurant with your parents the more I understand how badly society needs to look up into the sky and dream about what is possible again.

The science and technology that once gave all people hope --that if we could walk on the moon, anything is attainable as a society or within the framework of our own lives --has taken a backseat to war, corporate profit and bling.

While the current administration hasn't totally cast us back into the dark ages yet, they have certainly diminished our educational infrastructure through lack of funding (beginning with the Reagan years). Early childhood education is where the spark of exploration (the desire for knowledge and understanding) begins with well resourced schools, talented, caring teachers and parents that have not totally been beaten down by a system of economic tyranny.

There is mountain of work for the NASA CoLab team ahead, (ironic we originally met in Mountain View?) however the intellect and optimism from that group holds great promise.

alonovo and the charge of the libertarian brigade

Sat, 2007-03-17 15:58
If I were asked to characterize myself at this point in my life I'd consider myself a pragmatic liberal. Nevertheless, I continue to keep an open mind (I must have an open mind that would easily explain why I forget things -as new ideas emerge, remembering where I put my keys gets more challenging).

As the concept of alonovo was formed (and yes, it started from a peace-loving, tree-hugging, born and raised in Los Angeles vegan perspective) an interesting thing happened. As I went looking for investment most of the time I found myself in the lair of conservatives and the occasional libertarian. It was pointed out to me that the concept of alonovo could benefit society without regard for political ideology. The concept of corporations trampling on all of us in search of bigger profit margins was something that could rally most of America. The more that I reflected upon this concept the more appreciation I had. Here was an opportunity to bring America back together as opposed to continuing to polarize, divide and conquer. In interviews I coined the phrase "You don't have to be a Democrat to want a blue sky, you don't have to be a Republican to want a growing economy."

As I met with people representing the spectrum of political ideology, I befriended some Libertarians, notably Ernie (Freedom's the answer, what's the question?) Hancock in Phoenix and Eric Garris in the SF area. I found their perspective refreshing and a handful of lunches and coffee's led to the individual weighting system in alonovo. Instead of alonovo determining what constitutes good corporate social behavior, we took the 30+ attributes of Corporate Social Behavior (or more commonly and incorrectly, Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR) and we provide a simple method for each user to establish their own experience by weighting the factors that are important to them. For example, if you are dedicated to environmental issues, however do not feel strongly about labor, animal rights and ethics --you can weight the attributes of CSB to highlight the environmental issues so the ratings that are displayed for you are very sensitive to the underlying environmental ratings data.

We felt this was an important intellectual contribution to alonovo from the Libertarian perspective and we have also applied this philosophy to the organizations we work with that range from CODEPINK to the National Military Family Association.

In a near future release, we expect to have some NGO's and beneficiary organizations we work with establish their own weightings that will be the default for their respective constituency (however can be overridden by their individual alonovo users).