July 2005

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Great interview with Stephen Colbert

AlterNet: MediaCulture: A Super Straight Guy

COLBERT: First of all, I am a super straight guy. I grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, and I am perfectly comfortable in blue blazers, khaki pants, Brooks Brothers suits and regimental striped ties. It’s just genetic. I love a cocktail party with completely vacuous conversation, because I grew up in it.

Great interview with Stephen Colbert

AlterNet: MediaCulture: A Super Straight Guy

COLBERT: First of all, I am a super straight guy. I grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, and I am perfectly comfortable in blue blazers, khaki pants, Brooks Brothers suits and regimental striped ties. It’s just genetic. I love a cocktail party with completely vacuous conversation, because I grew up in it.

Wachovia Completes Research

Under this otherwise unassuming title is a press release stating that Wachovia did research into its history to find which of its ancestor institutions might have owned slaves.

Earlier this year, Wachovia contracted with The History Factory, a leading historical research firm, to conduct research on the predecessor institutions that, over many years, formed our company.

The resulting research revealed that two of our predecessor institutions, the Georgia Railroad and Banking Company and the Bank of Charleston, owned slaves.

Due to incomplete records, we cannot determine precisely how many slaves either the Georgia Railroad and Banking Company or the Bank of Charleston owned. Through specific transactional records, researchers determined that the Georgia Railroad and Banking Company owned at least 162 slaves, and the Bank of Charleston accepted at least 529 slaves as collateral on mortgaged properties or loans, and acquired an undetermined number of these individuals when customers defaulted on their loans.

We are deeply saddened by these findings. We apologize to all Americans, and especially to African-Americans and people of African descent.

This is kind of amazing, really. I’m not sure if I can articulate how… I mean, it never would’ve occurred to me (even as a relatively liberal and thoughful and historically-conscious person) to look into the history of a company this way. To some degree you wonder if it’s relevant, but then again the success of this bank is dependent in part upon the success of its ancestry.

When you really think about it, we’re not talking about *that* long ago. I live in a building from the 1850’s. The floors were walked by people who lived through the Civil War. It only takes three grandparents back for me to be connected to somebody who was alive at that time.

It makes me wonder what sorts of conversations went on at Wachovia, how it came about, etc. I’m fascinated with how corporations as a sort of aggregate personality take such nuanced and vulnerable actions.

Anyway, it was just sort of a surprising thing to run into as I went to check my balance today.

Just saw this editorial reprinted at Common Dreams: Who’s Taking Blame for Christian Violence?

How do our current religious leaders think Jesus would react to the concept of collateral damage?

I’d love to see somebody ask that question in a press conference.

The original “weblog” was Jorn Barger’s robotwisdom.com. I used to read it every day, and went to about half the links. And that’s about all his blog was for a long while … he used to do small paragraphs, but then finally was posting 15-20 or more links a day with small comments next to them. It would range from cartoons to James Joyce, technology to poetry. It felt great because here was a guy who consumed the Internet the way I did, and found it a drug in the same way. So much at your fingertips, and all of it pouring in faster than you can comprehend. Just dipping fingers into the stream and tasting.

I didn’t realize Jorn ended up broke and panhandling. I hadn’t kept up with him, really, and just figured he’d moved on… but then I saw a post over in Sean’s blog to an article about him (this one:What happened to Jorn).

On his panhandler sign, Barger had written:

Coined the term ‘weblog,’ never made a dime.

Then I looked on Wikipedia and found this. And it says that Barger now says that most of what the post above said was “fiction.”
See his comment, posted just a few weeks ago, in the Wikipedia discussion page.

Whatever the situation, this is a guy who doesn’t fit in the cultural grid of “normal” — he’s brilliant, and probably just short of Unabomber (that is, super smart and looks at the world in weirdly accurate but nonconventional ways, but luckily hasn’t decided that the alien world around him needs to be bombed into oblivion).

The Wikipedia bit about him is pretty informative, and explains a lot of why his head is so widespread. He’s looking sideways through the cracks in our silos.

The thing is, I wonder how much synthesis he does? His weblog is a serial parade of nodes, but does anything combine and spawn from all that input? Based on what the Wikipedia page says, probably so (he’s published on various topics, and been known to write academic and critical stuff).

Luckily, RobotWisdom is back up, as of Feb 2005.

This seems wrong on so many levels. The main one for me at the moment, though, is that all these people are using the word “architecture” but nobody’s talking about how the buildings are used. They’re fixating on the outer form.
If architecture is mainly about making wacky shapes on the skyline, then why can’t Brad Pitt do it? Anybody could.
And they’re using the word “design” … grrr.

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | From Troy to Hove – Brad Pitt’s new career

The height of the towers was reduced after protests from residents and only two are now proposed. But their radical sculptural design, described by one critic as “transvestites caught in a gale”, remains unchanged.

A telling quote from Pitt:

In an interview with Vanity Fair last year Pitt said: “I’m really into architecture, structure and design. Give me anything and I’ll design it. I’m a bit nutty with it.” Pitt added: “I’ve got a few men I respect very much and one would be Frank Gehry. He said to me, ‘If you know where it’s going, it’s not worth doing.’ That’s become like a mantra for me. That’s the life of the artist.”

Yes. That is wise insight for any artist. But that’s *ART*!! Design is for things people have to USE.

via jjg

That’s Dedication

Originally uploaded by inkblurt.

I posted a few more BlobFest pics to Flickr. Why? Because I know y’all can’t get enough, that’s why!
This whole thing was a blast to me. It had all the home-towniness of a real American town festival, but without being whitebread-bland. I may have to live here the rest of my life.
This guy’s costume won the contest, by the way. I couldn’t believe that the people in costumes managed not to pass out in the heat — it was about 94 with incredibly thick jungle-style humidity.

I’m doing some research on old technology and how people talked about it when it was new to them, and ran across this terrific site with an article about Murry Mercier and TV in 1929

My favorite part of this page is the scan of the news article from April 29, 1929, The Ohio State Journal newspaper.

“Already they have achieved success in developing an instrument that outdoes the magic of storybook fame by showing a scene radiocast from another city hundreds of miles away. This is not to be confused with telephoto which reproduces the picture on paper. Television is instantaneous. For instance, one can watch a prize fight or a wedding ceremony in Pittsburgh. It reproduces the scenes as rapidly as they change, the same as a mirror would reflect them.”

What fascinates me is how someone in 1929 (not that long ago) was struggling to explain in a literal, non-technical way how television worked.
Remember trying to explain to someone what the Internet is? It feels similar.
It’s amazing how something so strange that there weren’t quite words for describing it (even the ‘mirror’ thing doesn’t quite get it) and yet now Television has become its own concept, not requiring explanation at all. It just happens. Now, rather than describing TV by talking about mirrors and lanterns, we describe other things by referencing TV. (“Yeah, mom, the Internet is like TV but not, I mean, you can do things in it and it responds…wait that’s not quite it…”)

“You are being forwarded to an automatic voice mailbox system. ….. The mailbox for ‘Customer Inquiries’ is full….”

That’s what I got when I finally managed to find a phone number on Verizon’s website, and was transferred to a different number (because I found the wrong number after all).

I was calling because I wanted to try the new fiberoptic service. Supposedly my building is hooked up to it, according to my landlord. And Verizon is sending a big cardboard flyer to my mailbox weekly extolling its virtues.

Because it might actually be cheaper for me to use that rather than pay for both a phone line I don’t use and the DSL service, I was wanting to see if I could go that way.

I checked the website, but *it* tells me that, according to my address and phone number, it’s not available at my building. (So why are you sending me the &*$^@* FLYERS??!?)

So I go looking for a customer support number. There’s not one on the fiberoptic (FiOS) area of the site, that I can see (stupid, if they really want people to buy it). What I do manage to find, though, is Verizon – Contact Telephone Numbers – Pennsylvania, which gives me phone numbers based on which company *used to* run my phone utility in my area. Since I only moved to my area 6 months ago, I am not privy to this bit of neighborhood lore. I have NO IDEA if it used to be Bell Atlantic or GTE.

Anyway, I try both… the first option gets nothing. Not even a ring. Just silence.

The second option got me to the situation above… and then to a “full mailbox” ….. ARGH!!!

I will not even get started as to how horribly broken their website is.

Check out my quick movie clip of the 2005 BlobFest “Running out and Screaming” :-)

Blob Run 2005 Movie Clip 7MB
Blob Run 2005 Movie Clip — MPEG; 7MB

You’re already paying taxes, and you probably know somebody with Lupus (even if you don’t know it yet).

Make your voice heard: support Lupus research
The Lupus REACH Amendments of 2005 have been introduced in both chambers of the United States Congress. REACH is an acronym for Research, Education, Awareness, Communication, and Healthcare.

The REACH Amendments enhance federal biomedical research on lupus, including urgently needed epidemiology research, and authorizes programs to increase public awareness and improve public and professional education about lupus.

BlobFest 2005


Originally uploaded by inkblurt.

Blobfest was big fun this weekend. I have a few pictures up from it in my Flickr stream.

This was everybody milling around in the heat and humidity, but still in good spirits.

We did the “running out and screaming” thing twice with the crowd, then went across the street to Bridge Street Bookshop for the Harry Potter party.

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