Cell phones: The new rock ballad lighters

A friend called on Saturday and had tickets to U2 that night in San Jose. I think the HP Pavillion (the Sharks hockey arena) is the worst concert venue in the bay area. We have many good ones - and the sound in HP Pavillion is just awful. As a result I think they compensate by turning up the volume so it'll drown out the echo. So during the first song we ran out to the information desk and got ear plugs, which they hand out for free. I watched the rest of the concert with ear plugs - and it was much better!

It was a good concert - and they have an amazing repertoire to choose songs from. I have about ten of their albums - but Joe says he has over a hundred U2 CDS - imports, singles, you name it.

The highlight of the show for me was when they dimmed the lights and on the giant screen slowly scrolled through the first seven or so articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

However, a close second was the moment when Bono asked everybody to get out their cell phones and hold them up. The lights were turned down. Can you imagine a packed arena with 20,000 people, and just about everybody holding up bright cell phone LCD displays? It was like rock concerts in the past where people would hold up their lit lighters during the band's ballad. But rather than a warm sea of candles, the cell phones generated a sea of blue dots instead. Bono then went into a little spiel saying he wasn't looking for donations, but for signatures on a petition, and asking everybody to send him a text message to a number listed on the big screen. And of course we did. With just about 20,000 people hitting the system simultaneously it must have hit quite a traffic spike - but it held up. Phew! ( Sun was involved).

The goal of the texting segment is to drive participation on www.one.org and the ONE declaration:

WE BELIEVE that in the best American tradition of helping others help themselves, now is the time to join with other countries in a historic pact for compassion and justice to help the poorest people of the world overcome AIDS and extreme poverty. WE RECOGNIZE that a pact including such measures as fair trade, debt relief, fighting corruption and directing additional resources for basic needs education, health, clean water, food, and care for orphans would transform the futures and hopes of an entire generation in the poorest countries, at a cost equal to just one percent more of the US budget. WE COMMIT ourselves - one person, one voice, one vote at a time - to make a better, safer world for all.

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Tor Norbye

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