Monday, September 27, 2010

Segway Owner Dies Driving His Own Segway Off A Cliff

To learn that the Segway Owner dies because he piloted his Segway off a cliff is as much sad as it is strange.

One would think Jimi Heselden, the creator of the Segway Personal Transporter, would have known how to pilot his own vehicle to avoid such a development. Apparently not.

According to The Associated Press:

A witness had reported seeing a man fall Sunday over a 30-foot (9-meter) drop into the river near the village of Boston Spa, 140 miles (225 kilometers) north of London.

There's not much information on how this happened, and reportedly there's a lot of lack of information on how to drive the Segway and a number of YouTube videos showing people falling off of it:

Meanwhile, RIP Jimi Heselden.

TechCrunch Disrupt SF Women In Tech Panel: @digitalsista's view

The second blog post in this space about Tuesday's TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2010 "Women In Tech" panel started a conversation. Indeed, one that's more valuable than for AngelGate.

The post, TechCrunch Disrupt SF Women In Tech Panel - Where's The Black Girl?, called for the need for all to embrace the objective of diversity if we're really going to "change the ratio" of women and people of color at tech conferences like TechCrunch Disrupt SF

Two observers brought a blog post by Shireen Mitchell aka @digitalsista (pictured at left) to this blogger's attention.   Called "a tale of two challenges at tech conferences," it's a great and intimate view of how Shireen, recognized as one of the " 2010 Top Women to Watch" in Tech (and note, in all of Tech, not just the black wing), was left out of a panel at the AlwaysOn Stanford Summit called "Women and Entrepreneurship," even though the other panelists lobbied to have her on it.

Lisa Stone of BlogHer was even willing to give up her seat to Shireen just to have a diverse panel.

Wait. Couldn't they have just added an extra chair?

At any rate, Shireen then notes she was, as they say, "cool with it" until a panel started called "The Open Media Revolution Is Over: Are we Better Off?" and with, as Shireen reports:

Michael Arrington, Tech Crunch, Robert Scoble, Scobleizer, Quentin Hardy, Forbes, Josh Tyrangiel, Bloomberg Businessweek and Chamillionaire, rapper moderated by AlwaysOn's own Tony Perkins.

Shireen correctly observes that Chamillionaire is an entertainer and his own Twitter page explains that he's "Bio Platinum & grammy award winning recording artist. Tech conference tourist. Professional sports trash talker. Knowledge seeker. Boss."

When the irony of having a non-techie on a panel was brought up to colleague Erika Alexander, Erika observed that one can be a "tech-entertainer." While Shireen says that's a good point, I disagree. In this case there's no evidence that Chamillionaire is a person who's established his own tech start up like, say, Sports Business Simulations. Had he done so, he would qualify as a "tech-entertainer."

At TechCrunch Disrupt SF, the one black entrepreneur who should be on someone's panel is MC Hammer, who was the founder of a startup called DanceJam that he later sold and reportedly for a profit.   MC Hammer is a true tech-entertainer.

In fact, he's, well, uh, OK, the entertainment headliner at TechCrunch Disrupt SF.

Michael Arrington. Man, put that dude on a panel.  Will ya?

Ed Schultz confirms S3706 will get Senate attention this week

Ed Schultz confirms S3706 will get Senate attention this week. Today on his radio show, Ed Schultz ended the weekend speculation over whether the Stabenow story was in-fact true and what prompted him (Ed) to make that call to the Michigan Senator last Friday, on behalf of the 99er Nation.

Ed has expressed a great deal of concern over the impact disenfranchised voters, like the 99er NOVOs would have on the midterm elections. Last week, Ed announced on the radio his determination to change the minds of those who had planned to sit out this election, unless the Americans Want to Work Act was brought to the Senate floor.

On today’s show, Schultz gave his rendition of how the process may play out this week. He confirmed that Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) did commit to bring S3706 to the floor for a vigorous debate and a possible voice vote. He also acknowledged the distinct possibility that the Republicans will likely block such a vote. Ed did add that there was a possibility that a few Republican Senators may help override such filibustering techniques, but that is anyone’s guess. No telling what the Republicans might do.

Ed said he was not sure if this was going to be enough to change the minds of the 99er NOVO movement, but it is a step in the right direction.

After hearing this radio dialog, the San Diego Unemployment Examiner contacted Rob C. to confirm his intention was to indeed dissolve the 99er NOVO movement, once the bill gets to the Senate floor. “All we want is a fighting chance to survive,” Rob explained. “Ed has done his part, Stabenow should do her part and then we will keep our promise to take all the energy of the NOVOs and put it toward a Democratic win in November. There may be those in the NOVO movement who disagree with doing so, but that is the beauty of living in America. We all have the right to choose for ourselves and then act accordingly, but the great majority of the NOVOs are on board with this decision.”

At the close of his radio show today, Ed Schultz announced that he will have 99er information tonight on his MSNBC show that you do not want to miss.

TechCrunch Disrupt SF Women In Tech Panel - Where's The Black Girl?

On Tuesday, TechCrunch Disrupt SF will host a panel that is provocative not just by its title, but by the panelists. It is simply called "Women in Tech" and consists of, according to the agenda, Lauren Leto (Bnter), Leila Chirayath Janah(Samasource), Sara Chipps (Girl Developer IT), Cyan Banister (Zivity), Rachel Sklar (, Michelle Greer (SimpleSpeak Media).

Now, the idea behind the panel, this blogger assumes, is to talk about the lack of women in tech. It's a subject my friend Mediaite Editor-At-Large Rachel Sklar has really placed a laser focus on of late, starting a blog called "Changing The Ratio" and poking at TechCrunch Founder and Editor Michael Arrington for forming an event in TechCrunch Disrupt she feels is not inclusive of women.

Rachel's efforts have landed her a well-deserved invitation to be on the panel that meets on Tuesday morning.

So, I wondered, who's on the panel, other than Rachel? The answer, several white girls and one of apparent Indian (Asian) decent.

Where's the black and the Latino women?

The point is, talk about diversity should not stop at one group of people, because that method of thinking doesn't help solve the overall problem. Moreover, the discussion becomes "white male centric" - in other words, "Why aren't we as (white) women in this group of people we perceive as mostly white male?"

Even with the increasing diversity of men in tech as evident by the TechCrunch Disrupt SF Hackathon, the idea is that it's still a white guy's game. But the people who complain about this don't seem to realize they're excluding others themselves. So what we get are panels on Women in Tech, Blacks in Tech (at SXSW), and so on, but no discussion of how to really alter this picture before us.

The problem is there's a lack of understanding of the need to think in a racially and sexually diverse way. It's not enough to just have a panel of, frankly, hot almost all-white women (was that Michael's doing?) talking about the issue, but to ask is that panel itself diverse? The answer is no.

So are we really solving the problem, or talking around it?

We're talking around it.

Diversity-think must be in the DNA of a group or culture, period. It's all about making everyone feel that they're included in a discussion, in other words that you're thinking about them. What we forget is that everyone want to be heard. They want to know if you're affirming their value by paying attention to them. There's nothing wrong with that and it's human nature to want that.

The overall problem is many people feel they must make groups that are exclusive if only to give value to themselves. Or to take it a step beyond that, to make themselves feel better about who they are at the expense of others. Thus, some, like Michael, will say "It's not the fault of men" that there aren't a lot of women in tech.

If you think about what Arrington's saying in depth, it's an ugly gatekeeper mentality: "I'm the person who has helped to set the bar for who gets in and it's that you must have a good idea or product. It's not that your female or black or whatever."


The first order of business is to admit our biases. The second order of business is to speak frankly, which works back to the first order.

A friend of mine in Oakland politics and legal circles, a mentor who's white, said it best long ago: white people don't like to be considered racist (or for that matter sexist). It's a fear. So sometimes we may replace that idea with some other manufactured issue about a person of color."

So, while the real problem may be that while the man has an issue that's racist or sexist, it may be covered by another assertion that effectively works to shift the blame to the victim: thus we have Michael's idea that it's the fault of women that there aren't a lot of women in tech.

Changing The Ratio Means Changing Ourselves

You can't change society without changing how people think. For example, the "Women In Tech" panel should be more racially diverse than it is. Then it means the very people raising that issue of sexism aren't themselves racist.

(And here, an aside. To be racist or sexist is to put down a person because of their race or sex. It's not being aware of race or racial divisions or sex and issues of sexism. People who claim one's being racist or sexist by talking about race and sex are just playing a nutty game.  The end result is to stop you from pointing out the problem.)

If the TechCrunch Disrupt SF Women In Tech Panel that meets on Tuesday doesn't talk about the need for everyone to think in a diverse way, then the panel's a failure.

Also, Michael Arrington himself should moderate the panel. If he doesn't, it means he's running away from an issue he's made himself part of and in a way signaling that the whole panel's not really one to be taken seriously.  

Here's hoping he doesn't do that.

Bruce Gradkowski Not Outstanding In Raiders Loss

Oakland Raiders Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski was 17-of-34 passes for 255 yards with for touchdown and one interception agains the Arizona Cardinals. The Raiders lost in part because of three missed field goals, but given their distance, we have to ask why the offense didn't get closer?

In other words, the replacement for Jason Campbell completed just 50 percent of his passes. Moreover, Gradkowski's ugly sidearm throwing habit is back, and this corner wonders just what is the Raiders Coaching Staff is doing with the QB, as he had this problem in the 2009 season.

That form, shown in the photo, causes Bruce to throw off his back foot and places his downfield throws wildly off target.

For example, the long pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey that resulted in a pass interference call was that sidearm throw. Because of Bruce's form, the pass didn't fall where it should have, just outside of Bey's body for the route he was running. Instead, the ball's flight was such that it looked like a prayer aimed for the receiver. The pass was overthrown. The penalty came because the ball looked like it could have been caught, even if it took a circus catch to do it.

That didn't happen.

The bottom line is Gradkowski needs work. There was little in his play to suggest that he alone made the difference. The Raiders had to rely on field goals too often because they were not able to get to within the red zone. Otherwise, such field goals are a chip shot.

The Raiders lost. And here some the Texans.