Burning man 3
The man who set himself on fire in front of the White House and nearly in front of me continues to make news. The NY Times did over a page of reporting beginning on the front page describing the complex character and complex and clandestine involvements of Mohamed Alanssi also known as “C11” in an article by William Gaberson entitled “Terror Case Hinges on a Wobbly Key Player.” Too much there to retell here, but let’s just say that there is at least a novella waiting to be written about this.
Ted Vaden’s initial column as public editor of the News and Observer tells us this about the impressions of the Jordanian journalists to whom I spoke to a little over a week ago:
The other reader group couldn’t have had a more different perspective. They were Jordanian journalists visiting North Carolina newspapers under a University of North Carolina exchange program. They found newspapers biased in favor of President Bush, ignorant about Middle East culture and, surprisingly to me, not as free as we think we are. Case in point: the recent arrest of an N&O reporter for trying to phone a person he was writing a story about. (That charge was dismissed last week.)
Dinner with IBM Academy folks
I’ve been invited to sit in with the some members of the IBM Academy of Technology tomorrow night. We will be eating manly food at the Angus Barn and talking technology research.
I’m not sure what I’m in for here, but the other folks who are going are smart hardworking people — so I’m the only ringer so far. If you are a reader of this blog and you know anything beyond the Academy web pages, please let me know.
Enter any URL into the field on this page from Excite Japan and that page will appear translated into Japanese. Just like this. Then in true Babblefish fashion, we translate it back to Engish of a sort.
But Google is not to be left behind. Korean, Japanese and Chinese are all in beta at http://translate.google.com/
Here’s the Google/Babblefish version of the same thing going to Japanese.
And back to English of a sort. [still trying to get this automated]
Starting from Excite to Japanese then back to English via Google, we get this.
You be the judge.
実際のポール・ジョーンズ from Excite
実質のポールジョーンズ from Google/Babblefish
実質のポールジョーンズ from WorldLingo Translator (thanks id)
Thanks to Nassib for making me aware of the Excite translator.
Slashdot points us to this story in The New Scientist about The blog revolution in sweeping across China.
This is a good follow up to the talk that I put together on International Internet Censorship about a week ago.
One person involved with a highly censored country wrote (and asked to remain anonymous) that:
so far seen no mention of the repercussions (prison – and we’re not talking about namby-pamby US prisons here! – torture, loss of job, harrassment) on people who might be using these methods (proxies, getting info in email, etc.) Westerners seem all gleeful about the technology, and seem totally innocent about the realities on the ground
This to me is the biggest problem. The “last mile” problem of Internet censorship. And I agree that we need to be very aware of the cost to those requesting and receiving banned information. Still, like Internet 2, we need to be finding as many ways as possible to workaround, confront and change the problem.
I bought the current issue/book from McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern [Issue 13 not online as yet] which is a wonderful complex object edited by Chris Ware wrapped in a Ware cover with two small comic booklets stuck in the folds. As I started enjoying it, Sally pointed me to Jason Kottke’s blog/discussion about the same book.
Here’s my response to the thread at Kottke.org:
Not to retread this thread, but I waited to reply til I had read all of the McSweeney’s in question. The book is about a certain kind of comic. Not superheroes or comic that owe much to superheroes except as a way to tell stories about disappointments, enlightenments, betrayals, and frankly neo-existential situations. In short, it’s a book about Chris Ware, his influences, his forebearers, his cosmos of co-travelers and to some extent (and I can’t tell who exactly fits in this category) his followers in art.
If you are interested in that world, visually, historically, naratively and emotionally, then this book is for you. It is not Jimmy Corrigan but the DNA from which JC sprung and about the branches of his family trees, his cousins in art.
Don’t expect X-Man, Watchman, Incredibles etc. Don’t expect Archie except in negative ironic twists. The same for Casper and Donald Duck.
This is not so much a manifesto for a kind of comic/graphic story-telling — yes a genre emerging and showing itself as something serious — as a map of explanations of why this genre has already taken off. Not explications, but examples and tales that build the larger story.
Like it or not — here it is!
What I didn’t mention above is that the current New Yorker is the Cartoon Issue. In that issue is a particularly good essay on Charles Shultz by Jonathan Franzen. But the greatest treasure in the issue is hidden inside the double fold of a Johnny Walker advert and paid for by the Honorable Mr. Walker. No link since the adverts are not online, but pick up the issue and peek inside. The pages of the advert unfold to four continuous pages worth of comic by Seth, the author of “Clyde Fans” and “Palookaville.”
I’ve turned into a NPR reporter reporter today.
NPR just aired a piece on bittorrent including interviews with Bram Cohen (who we met at FOO Camp) and Larry Lessig (Bram wrote it; Larry defends it) and a more or less nameless Motion picture operative (it promotes evil) followed by a more or less nameless BBC guy (who loves it). Examples of legal use of bittorrent abound in the story — most all of them ibiblio does. Books (check), CDs by bands that agree to share (check), radio shows (check), show from the Dead etc (check), Linux distros (check). ibiblio didn’t get mentioned tho. bittorrent is one of the largest consumers of internet bandwidth (supposedly).
You can find the story near the end of this page.
The NPR site gives us a completely misleading and completely inane headline:
File-Sharing Program Could Boost Illegal Movie Trading
BitTorrent, the current hot program for sharing files on the Internet, combines the computing power of several file sharers to ease the transfer of large files — such as movies. Is it the next phase in the arms race between the entertainment industry and file sharers, or the future of legal distribution? Hear Joel Rose of member station WHYY.
[I write a lot about bittorrent in the context of etree.org in the upcoming Library Trends journal — The Commercialized Web: Challenges for Libraries and Democracy, Edited by Bettina Fabos, 53(4), Spring 2005]
Whilst looking through the State of Things Archives, I found the Tim Tyson show that Susan Davis wrote me about. You can find it too here. I’m not sure whether it ran twice, there are two air dates as you will see below:
Blood Done Sign My Name
Air Date: 8/1/2004
Original Air Date: May 24, 2004
Blood Done Sign My Name: Host Melinda Penkava talks with Timothy Tyson, the author of “Blood Done Sign My Name” (Crown/2004). Tyson, a professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, grew up in the small North Carolina town of Oxford. In 1970, when Tyson was ten years old, an African-American man named Henry Marrow was killed outside a store in broad daylight by a white man. The incident enflamed racial tensions and touched off rioting in the town. Tyson remembers the event in his book, which is part historical account and part memoir. (54:00)
I’ve mentioned Tim and his important book in earlier posts on this blog. Particularly when the local pledge drive took the national story off our local air. WUNC did scoop the national on this one and put out a nice long show.
Just back from the WUNC State of Things show on Webcasting and Internet Music (more or less). The show will replay tonight on air then be available from the State of Things Archives (on ibiblio).
David (on the phone from Asheville), Michael, and I were joined by Paradise Radio‘s Bill Goldsmith (on phone from the Left Coast), Little Brother’s MC Phonte (in studio) and his collaborator Nicolay (on the phone from Amsterdam).
Since you can hear the show, I’ll only say a few things. First, my earphones kept dropping one channel but the engineer was right on it after I made some funny faces and pointed to my head a lot. I got a different headset. Frank Stasio kept us going fine and every one behaved our Sunday Best.
I was a little concerned that Bill Goldsmith was saying that everything was hunky dory with him and the DMCA/CARP rulings so I questioned him about the playlist restrictions. He said, “Oh I don’t like to play a lot by the same performer in the same hour any way.” Then I asked about the detailed reporting that is required. “Oh I’m under a separate agreement so I don’t have to do that.” I am assuming that he also has negotiated a different rate but I’m not sure. His concern about having a lot of listeners was more about bandwidth than about having to pay for each listener. The upshot is that he’s not under the same compulsary license as others so his situation is not a general one. Glad he’s had up to 7000 listeners at once tho. The thing is that law and interpretation of the law is still restricting Internet Radio and creativity.
I didn’t get to mention Koleman’s paper or etree.org or bittorrent or community radio. I did get to say that this might not be radio at all, but something else expecially since if it were radio the FCC might use that analogy to apply laws and restrictions to it (whatever it is).
I did get to say a little about podcasting, Mercaro, Negativland, McGuinn, Creative Commons licenses, and a couple of other things.
The time passed quickly and soon MC Phonte and Nicolay were talking about their collaboration that created their partnership called “Foreign Exchange” on their “Connected” CD. To be followed by an NPRster talking about her Thanksgiving experiences. And we were out of there.
Keith and Corrie, if you are reading this: I left my WXYC Bandwidth CD and my Creative Commons/Wired CD there. One with Frank. One with I think Keith. May I have them back? You can rip and burn them if you like — it’s legal to do so.
David McConville send this bootleg recording of our WUNC show.
UPDATE The show is posted at the WUNC archive now, but the text summary doesn’t mention everyone who was on the show — like Bill Goldsmith and me.
Three of the participants from the WXYC Webcasting Panel will be on WUNC’s State of Things tomorrow (Wednesday) at noon-ish. We’ll plenty to say about the old days when we invented Internet radio and more to say about new developments such as podcasting, Internet2 streaming, and p2p radio as well as about legal hurtles created by the monopolists. I’m sure we’ll also mention bands that allow their live concerts to be taped and shared, McGuinn and others who use the Internet for distribution, and Koleman Strumpf’s study that showed no effect on sales caused by file trading.
Tune in and call in. We will be bigger than Janet Jackson and there are three of us! The three being Michael Shoffner, David McConville and me.
I’ve changed from the slightly hacked word-press default look to the cool metalic look I found at Alex King’s site. The style sheet isn’t by Alex but by “AKA” of Plastic Dreams and it’s called Metal Dreams. Of course, I tweaked it a bit to add the Paul Joneses at the top and a few other things and will continue to tweak it as time passes.
I also installed style switcher from Alex, so if you liked the old style you can just select wp-default from the Style part of the menu. I have not tweaked the other styles properly so they may (read will) look a little funky.
On Saturday after Boy’s Choir practice, Sally surprised Tucker and me with the gift of a scrap metal Saint Francis from the NC Botanical Gardens Sculpture Show. The catch was that the Saint whilst shorter than Tucker is still pretty damn heavy and I was to get him from the Gardens to the car and into his new home in our yard. Luckily I’ve been using my gym membership wisely. Unluckily I had had a good workout only about two hours before. The load of a Franciscan, even when he is a man of steel quite literally, is made light by the love and joy that is in his care so it was not a tough task.
The sculptor, Joel Haas of Raleigh, writes:
Even bird brains notice those mass produced cement St. Francis’ are waaay too earnest to attract wildlife.
This St. Francis is JOYFUL to see all sorts of creatures, and offers something more than earnest cement prayers.
Fill the various feeders with seed, water, or bread crumbs, and watch as heattracts something besides ants and ennui.
I didn’t see any feeders, but I did take a spoiled half a cantalope from the fridge and stick it on/in the Saint’s outreaching left hand.
On Sunday, we went to Jane Tyndall’s Gallery Christmas opening. This show has a piece or two from most of the artists that Jane represents so it makes for a different look for her gallery and a good one. Tucker was anxious to get his Dero poster (“We’ve been watching you while you sleep…”) from the nearby frame shop so we could only hear a little of Chris Reynolds’ trio and nothing from the Janes an acapella group with our friend Sylvia as a member.
Later Sally and I were among the honorary hosts for the ArtCenter’s 30th Anniversary party which was held at Spice Street. The place was crammed full which was great news to ArtCenter Director Jon Wilner and to founder Jacques Menache. It was not like the ArtSchool I found in 1978 when I moved to Chapel Hill. We were in one small walkup spaceheater warmed room in those days. Jacques grew and grew the organization for a number of years until it found it’s present home. It will be growing again soon under Jon’s direction.
I have to say that despite the wonderful wine, the great food, the nice people and old friends [many of whom were the same] and general good feelings. I almost shouted “NO” when Jon said that the ArtCenter would be a regional resource not a Mom-and-Pop operation. I loved the days that a 20something who lived poetry could sit on the porch of a wood heated hand made house out in the woods with Jacques and dream up ways to bring nationally and internationally famous poets to Carrboro of all places — not to the University or to Raleigh. I hope that spirit continues. I was delighted not to hear that the ArtCenter was out of funds and about to shutdown which we used to hear regularly in the old days when we even passed the hat, literally, to get money to cover the rent.
Here we not only got to hear Chris Reynolds play (when the crowd was toned down some) but to sit and eat and chat with Chris, Les (his wife), Jane (of the Gallery) and Sylvia (of the Janes).
Politicians were abundant including our good State Senator Ellie Kinnard and State Rep Verla Insko and school board member Michael Kelley, Chapel Hill Town Counciler Ed Harrison and our very favorite Council Member, Sally Greene.
Evidence that we are not yet living in the post-ironic era
From today’s Chapel Hill Herald [headlines and subheads from print edition]:
“SPA MEETS DOCTOR’S OFFICE”
New skin care salon focuses on wellness
Aria offers Botox, spray-on tanning, other services in cozy atmosphere
Today, I was in and out, mostly in, at the NHPRC Electronic Records Fellowships Symposium. Max and TJ did a great job taping all the talks and we’ll have them online in due time.
We also had a delightful Journalism and Mass Communications School meeting in which all searches were approved with little discussion. We are hiring excellent folks!
Then at lunch, I heard a brain-straining mind-openning talk by Lennart Bjorneborn of Denmark on his webometrics work and on Small World Phenomenae and distributed knowledge organization and self-organizing structures on the Web.
[more on this and on the Symposium later]
During breaks, I saw a gorilla, a giant rabbit, an armadilla also giant, and a large mouse running around on the quad between the Wilson Library where the Symposium was held and Manning Hall where I live and Lennart’s talk was given. They invited me over, but then had a disagreement with the armadillo. And we went our separate ways. They were not far from the place where I ran into the energy witching group a few weeks back.
Odd occurances continued. As I went to my car to go home, I found that a car the exact same make, model, year and color of my car had parked beside me. The only difference was that the other car had a parking ticket on it and mine didn’t.
Later Tucker and I went to Weaver Street Market where we ran into 103.5 WCOM’s Jacques Menache (he’s also the ArtCenter founder and an old friend) who took us on a tour of Carrboro’s new low power community FM station. The building is an old branch bank and Jacques has ingeniusly moved the drive-in window to the studio so that the on-air DJ has a great view of the street. The station’s antenna which has about a 10 mile range is up the road above our house. It’s on the high point of Southern Village in the soccer field behind Mary Scroggs Elementary where Tucker went to grades 1 – 3. If you are a music or radio person in this area, drop by and lend WCOM a hand.
Our evening ended with a trip to our favorite toy store Wootini [sorry their site isn’t up quite yet] [but they did great a good write up in the News and Observer] where a big party and art show were underway. The occassion was the release of a new comic-based toy designed by Jermaine Rogers. Jermaine was there signing posters and making odd faces — he is famous for his rock posters which include an ongoing story with some mysterious characters in them. A race of underworld bears called Dero are the subject of the toy. DJ Uzi was spinning and playing music too. The whole place was full of folks who could understand what was up with custom evil bear toys. Jermaine was kind enough to sign some posters for us despite Tucker’s antics. On the way out, Tucker found a freehand drawn sign directing folks to the show which had blown off into the corner of the building and brought it home (since it wouldn’t stick up any more). Our Dero likes to stand on it.
The man who ignited himself in front of the White House and incidentally in front of my hotel and within about 20 minutes of doing it in front of me, Mohamed Alanssi, turns out to be central to several anti-terrorism arrests in the US and in Europe. Newsday talks about at least three investigations that involve Alanssi none of them minor. The NYTimes and Washington Post have lengthy coverage of the involvements of Alanssi. The story doesn’t seem to be ending.
The story that ended and in fact completely vanished is any explaination of the other man who not long after Alanssi’s self-BBQing, climbed the White House fence. He remains a mystery. This man I did see only minutes or seconds before he went over.
eBayers in the meantime were given a chance to bid on a toasted cheese that reveals a Madonna!
As an homage to Miles Efron, a true food hound, I offer these [not yet commented on although both meals were wonderful] menu listings from my eats in DC Sunday and Monday of this week.
at the Bombay Club at 815 Connecticut Ave NW
Dahi Papri Chaat = Crisp puries topped with potatoes, chick peas, onions, and covered with yogurt, date and tamarind.
Vegetable Samosa Chaat = From East to West, the ever-popular vegetable samosa, served with date and tamarind sauce.
Sali Boti = Tender pieces of lamb delicately cooked with dried apricots and topped with crunchy straw potatoes. A Parsi delight.
at Asia Nora M between 22 and 23
Crispy Honshimenji Mushroom & Green Bean Tempura with truffled daikon dipping sauce
entry d’ jones
Seared Lemongrass Beef Roulade with Roasted Butternut-Scallion Gnocchi with shiitake mushrooms, seared spinach, Thai pesto stuffing
Warm Chocolate Five Spice Cake coconut sorbet, black sesame tuile
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility are putting together a panel and public dicussion on voting and vote counting in the US. (see below). This is especially timely since we may be facing a revote for several Council of State offices (at least Agriculture) in part because of the loss of over 4,500 votes in Carteret County. “[T]he county was told by the manufacturer of the voting system that its units could store up to 10,500 votes, but the limit was actually 3,005 votes.”
December 8, 2004
Chapel Hill Town Hall
306 North Columbia St.
Is Your Vote Counted?
Panel presentation and Community Speak Out on the question of voter integrity.
Introduction by Joyce McCloy, Founder, NC Coalition for Verified Voting
I’m in DC learning how to report on the folkstreams.net grant. The good news is that we have a great rate on a great hotel. All mod cons and most of them in gold looking metal with muted gold tones repeated throughout the hotel and the rooms. They even leave slippers by the bed for you. The bad news is that the facillitator hates our meeting room and swears not to meet here again. We, the attendees, are fine by the meeting room, delighted with the rate, and more than happy with our own rooms.
And we have learned a lot today. 80% of learning a new discipline is said to be about vocabulary. 80% of success is about showing up (says Woody Allen). But in our training, 90% of reporting on our grants is about syntax. We do not say “the public will have access to these wonderful materials;” we say instead “the public (or better ‘citizens’) will use these wonderful materials.” We do not say “students will learn about their heritage from these materials;” we say “students will know about their heritage from these materials.”
[added later] The point I should say is that “access” and “learning” are “processes” whilst “use” and “knowing” are outcomes that may be measured. Or so we were told.
In the meantime, a man set himself on fire less than a block from here in front of the White House. He reportedly shouted “Allah, Allah.”
Then just after I passed by Pennsylvania Ave and the new barricades. Another man scaled the fences and was pounced upon by Secret Service officers. I think I saw this guy a few minutes before he went over. He was in black with white ties around his pants at the ankles and was pulling gently at the fence when I passed by.
TV news was on the spot to report. One block away in front of the Hay Adams.
DC still has a ways to go to catch up with NYC where a man jumped naked into the Caiman tank at the Bronx Zoo.
UPDATE: I woke up to read a long story in the Washington Post (registration required but Google News will have you find other versions) that 52-year-old Mohammed Alanssi who set himself on fire at the White House yesterday evening was a Yemeni federal informant on terrorism upset over how the FBI had managed his case.
NBC4 has pictures of both the burned man and the jumper. The jumper was definitely the man I passed yesterday afternoon. He went over not long after I saw him.
Last night, we drove way out in the the darkest (read no streetlights) part of the county to go to a house concert given by Peter Kramer and Susan Gladen. Susan and Peter weren’t the musicians – the Weems-Gerrard band did that work. Alice Gerrard, who recorded 3 great LPs with the legendary Hazel Dickens and who founded the Old Time Herald, was the lead attraction. She was joined by a surprising (to me) guitarist — News and Observer Features Editor Tommy Goldsmith who turns out to have a rich musical past and some strong current licks. Mark Weems joined this edition of Alice Gerrard and band to play mostly honky tonk music. The band was fine and the music called for dancing which came later on. Too late for at least one of us (who is not inclined to honky much tonk anyhow), but the general ambiance was wonderful and the sound, handled by novelist and top knotch Elvis impersonator Bill Henderson was just right for the small hall that Peter has built on the farm.
I’m now packing and heading out the door for DC for training in support of our grant for the folkstreams.net project from the Institute for Museum and Library Services. The downside is two full days sitting in a hotel meeting room. The upside is that it’s in the Hay Adams Hotel. They have “high-speed Internet access” in the rooms so I may be able to post from there if the meeting lends itself to that.
I’ve loved Viking Kittens since they first showed up on the net. I can’t find what the guy at Rather Good did with that bit of Flash, but he has wonderful kittens doing White Stripes, Public Enemy, a little latino?, Laibach, etc. Completely silly interludes on a rainy cold day.
There are not that many famous computer security experts, but Bruce Schneier certainly is one. And justly so for Applied Crytography and for books since including Beyond Fear. He’s written a great piece from a computer security perspective on eVoting at his blog and on opendemocracy.org