Sunday, July 20, 2008

How I Got Involved

Category: Issue 14

It started with the Internet.  It facilitates so much communication between people that there had to be some kind of benefit, and I wanted to identify and maximize that benefit.  I had figured that one of the great drags on human progress was a lack of communication, and here was this brain-like technological structure just waiting for me to prove it.  My first exploration took me to slashdot.  There, I followed a hyperlink to a discussion about election methods and learned all about how the US political system counterweights one half of the citizenry against the other, giving control of the whole thing to a few elite political operatives.  Citizens get to feel that they are participating, while the elite get to control the outcome with a slight push here or there.  The two-party system became my nemesis, and I found a solution.

The Condorcet Method is a method of running an election so that if a winner is found, it is someone who is better than every other candidate, according to all the voters.  Contrast this with the Plurality Method, which virtually guarantees a winner, and only ever picks one from the two most popular parties.  Talk about divide and conquer!  I don’t know if the system was rigged intentionally (Condorcet was the secretary of the French Academy of the Sciences from 1777 to 1793 and Thomas Jefferson knew of his ideas, though he may not have understood them), but the rigging is certainly now put to use by the establishment.

I wanted to promote the Condorcet Method, so I wrote it into software and began integrating it into various Internet software packages.  I got people to take a look, and some were interested.  I offered $100 to someone who could write a story that would, through the use of the Condorcet Method, prove to be the best.  Don Eminizer did not win that contest, but he loved the idea and participated.  He also participated in the next contest and won $25 for coming up with the best name for the website I was building: Litmocracy.

The website invites and encourages people on the Internet to write and participate in Condorcet-style voting to identify good writing.  This mechanism showed Don that his writing skills were quite good (something he already suspected, but too many editors had asked him to play slave to their foibles), and that this was a system that could prove it.  The encouragement moved him to restart his own entrepreneurial feelings.  He re-assembled his rock band, 99 Burning, and he and I worked together to develop his website and gather a following.  Our creative ventures produced a fledgling production company, Smolder Productions Inc., a film company, Scorched Earth Films, a movie SEF has in pre-production, Web of Destruction, the “Who wants to be a rockstar?” website at http://www.want2bearockstar.com, Litmocracy Publications, the 99 Burning website and band, and Midnight In America, a project that includes a book, a CD, and movie about growing up ungoverned.  These projects have attracted a cast of hundreds, including a film buff who has contracted Don to write several scripts, several horror film actors and actresses interested in Web of Destruction, director Dean Drinkel from London, gourmet chef and businessman Eddie Adams of Tampa Bay, radio promoter Jon Flanagan from Los Angeles, Stash, John Falbo, and Matt Davis of 98Rock in Baltimore, and several members of Litmocracy from around the globe who are now writing for cash.  We call this the Electric Circus.

In March of this year, Don agreed to be the analyst for my family’s portfolio of stocks, and he has helped me triple our performance, which continues to improve.  The dividends from this portfolio are now being used to fund PR on our various projects.  For example, Litmocracy (http://www.litmocracy.com) is running a $1000 contest to find the best unpublished book as judged by members of the website using the Condorcet Method.

Web of Destruction has found interest among investors in New Mexico and a producer out of Arizona.  That 99 Burning, responsible for the soundtrack, is from around Maryland only helps show that we have appeal across the country.  Jon Flanagan and Eddie Adams are working together on gigs in Los Angeles for 99 Burning later this year (2008).