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Tom Potter
 USA
The best form of government Printer Friendly Version
As shown by ancient Greek and Roman writers such as Polybius, and the American Founding Fathers in the Federalist Papers, historically the most stable forms of government have featured a strong executive, provided stability for the elite, and functions to serve the masses.
The best way to do this would be to randomly select a "House of Representatives" from a pool of ANYONE who wanted the job, and to sell the seats in the "Elite Senate" to the highest bidders, NO MATTER who they are or where they live, as the elite are multinational in truth.
The executive power would be divided between several people, screened by the Senate, and accepted by the Representatives. The Senate would have the power to shift a certain percentages of the resources and responsibilities around in the executive, for SHORT periods of time during emergencies, after which the shift had to be approved by the Representatives.
The Senate, which would be composed of the most successful business people, understand what it takes to be a good executive, where the masses do not, and as can seen by many presidential appointments, some presidents do not.
The Representatives would have power to select Judges, and to initiate budgets, which would have to be approved by the Senate. A system like this would make for a true democracy, would eliminate the hostility and division that results from the two party system, and it would prevent media, foreign nations, religions, unions, etc. from co-opting the government by various tactics.
The system would also protect the elite and give them the confidence to make the large, long term investments that are needed to build a viable society. As the power of the executive would be divided, it would be impossible for any one man to grab all of the power, and it would eliminate the situations where fools, wanabe tyrants, immoral people. And loose cannons have their hands on the nuclear button, and most of the power.
The responsibilities between the Senate and the Representatives would be pretty much along the same lines as it is in the American Congress. The Senate would be more responsible for treaties, and the Representatives would be most responsible for budgets, crime and punishment.

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Steve
 Austria
Surprise Birthday Printer Friendly Version
Ever tried to organize a surprise birthday for a friend? Well, the huge problem about surprise birthday parties is that they never actually come as a surprise - people KNOW when they have birthday, so if someone takes you to a surprise place on your birthday, it isn't very hard to guess what's gonna happen.
Introduce the REAL surprise birthday. Let the government give everyone a random surprise birthday that changes on a yearly basis. Make the info available to everyone except the person celebrating his/her birthday. Will solve other problems, too, e.g. people heading for a round birthday won't have time for a midlife crisis. Also, people whose birthday used to be in December will get a fair chance to celebrate it when it's nice and warm.
Reward: Throw a surprise birthday party for me. 

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brainstormguy
 USA
Rethinking the 'Smart Pen' Printer Friendly Version
I feel that smart pens could be vastly improved. at the time of this writing, I find it funny that the best one on the market is the Fly Pentop. The remaining pens are mainly handwriting recognition.
I have created a series called brainstorm guy, and its a video outlining my ideas/inventions. you can watch my smart pen episode (my debut episode) here:
http://web15.metacafe.com/w/1051447/
Below is a summery/expanded ideas and thoughts to the video, so please watch it first.
basics of current smart pens:
1. input (handwriting recognition)
2. output (speaker based User Interface)
3. processing (what runs the pen)
4. connectivity (getting notes from the pen)
5. battery (power)
6. pen (it highly advanced super glorious ball point roller technology)
problems
1. size (too large)
2. cost (expensive)
3. User Interface is limited
4. 3rd party support is lacking
5. special paper
solution
pen only needs:
1. input
2. connectivity
3. battery
4. pen
add your favorite cellphone to handle:
1. processing
2. output.
this solves problems 1-4.
problem 5 is hard to get away from, but being able to use 3rd party development alternate uses will come to light.
Now some things I didn't cover in the video:
If the pen, also contained a stylus, you could use a piece plastic anoto page to have a surface to write on.
because this is based on using a cellphone, you can transmit your messages to anyone, so passing notes is extremely easy.
also being cellphone technology, you could draw the cellphone keys and remotely control your cellphone with out touching it.
now internet access come into play using cellphones/computers so updating blogs and such becomes easier in a since, it would allow you to choose a smaller phone that lacks a qwerty keyboard. (like the n95 ;P)
you can created a tablet like input to your computer.
Reward: please allow a lot of users to beta test the device before releasing it and try to keep it as open as possible. 

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