North by Northeast

Outrageous Preemptive Peace Protester Arrests in Minneapolis Ahead of RNC08
30 August, 2008, 11:35 pm
Filed under: politics, Politics 2008 | Tags:

Excuse me, are we living in China or the United States?

I’m pretty sure we just got finished seeing protestors get arrested in China for attempting free speech, including some Americans.

I’m also pretty sure some RNC08 protestors have just been arrested in Minneapolis, Minnesota for planning to protest for peace.

I am besides myself that this is happening in my country. Outraged. If people continue to allow this jackboot thuggery in this country, things are going to turn bad. I’m going to say under one potential presidential administration, this will be less likely to continue. I’ll leave the answer up to your interpretation.

Read up:

Salon (with video): Massive police raids on suspected protestors in Minneapolis

New York Times: Dozens Detained Ahead of Convention.

Minnesota Independent: Crackdown Begins: Food Not Bombs House Among Saturday Raids.


Foreign Policy and the Candidates
30 August, 2008, 3:29 pm
Filed under: General

The Editor of the Jerusalem Post has interviewed Bush, McCain and Obama on the US’s stance on Israeli issues.

In this piece, he compares his impressions of the three men, their cadre and in the second part he shares his most recent interview with Barack Obama, where he drilled the Senator on the intricate details of Israeli internal and external affairs. A very revealing interview, which may shed light on whether Obama will make for a capable leader on international affairs.

What Can You Do with Your Life?
27 July, 2008, 10:57 pm
Filed under: General

Something has really had my head turning the last few days. I have a childhood friend whom I haven’t seen for a little while. We grew up together, probably about a mile down the road from one another. I was a year older, but we did many things together. He was on my Little League team, he played in my section in school band, he taught me how to drive a standard transmission, and we took our dates to the prom together one year. Smart enough guy, nice guy, you know just an average guy.

Sadly, we didn’t stay in contact so much when I went off to college. I stayed in-state, but when he went the next year, he went off to the midwest. We saw each other occasionally on breaks, for the first few years at least. The occasional email or IM would be exchanged. We found each other on Facebook in the last year. I learned he was still involved in rowing, which he started in high school. We lived in the type of town that actually had a crew team…

Boring enough story for you? Well, let me jump to the extraordinary part. He’s traveling to China in August. Going to the Olympics—As a member of the U.S. Olympic Rowing Team. This is a guy who was, no offense, never picked first for any sport. He was a decent athlete. Played on a handful of school teams. I was pretty impressed when I found out he was rowing for a Division III college. I wasn’t surprised, I figured he definitely was talented enough for that. But somewhere about the time that we started losing touch, Andrew was apparently really dedicating himself to rowing.

This really gives me cause to pause. I wonder, if he can do that, what extraordinary thing can I do? I’m doing a lot in my life right now. I pretty happy with my job, in the industry I want to be in. I’m doing a full-time Master’s program, and participating in an open source educational software project, too. I have a beautiful wife and we’re expecting our first child in September. All great things that I’m proud of.

But I wonder what it would take some part of of my life and really kick it up to that next level. Something that when you tell someone, “x” they say, “Oh really?”

I’m in Philadelphia
16 July, 2008, 12:57 pm
Filed under: General

I’m on my lunch break in the second and final day at the University of Pennsylvania’s Higher Education Web Symposium 2008. My own UIE helped to put the conference together and I must say that I think it’s going exceedingly well. Big congratulations go to Ben Adams and the Penn Med Web team for really getting the conference going smoothly. Plus, it’s all being held in Wharton’s Huntsman Hall, which is a structure that’s less than 10 years old, and is a wonderful scholastic building.

I’ve had the privledge of attending with presenter perks, thanks to UIE’s involvement, and it’s pretty nice to get a nice dinner and lunch without having to conduct a 7 hour workshop. One day, maybe.

They’ve put us up in the Club Quarters Hotel. From what I can tell, only organizations that “belong” to the Club can have their members stay there. A neat business model for CQ, and it seems hotel rooms in the heart of Philly are really cheap there for the member orgs. Overall it’s a classy place, the room was comfortable, if compact (think European proportions). I had the misfortune of arriving to a room with a few issues, but my gripes were quickly addressed. A fine enough place to spend sleeping hours.

Working at UIE, I have the good fortune of being able to schmooze with all the speakers, which is a real treat. They’re always a lot of fun as people, beyond just being very intelligent people. The two are not always found in a single person.

I took the Acela down from Boston’s Back Bay Station, and just found that the train goes all the way to South Station (maybe another mile down the track) which would be much more convenient to my travel. The question is, will I be able to stay on the train 5 minutes longer than I paid for? We’ll see.

I was impressed with Philadelphia’s 30th street station. Reminiscent of New York’s Grand Central, with a very high ceiling and a classical design. I had expected something less, and compact, like Boston’s Back Bay which architecturally uninspired, but perhaps functional. Boston could really use a beautiful train station. (See post update below) Of course, we could also use a tunnel that connects North and South Stations, so Amtrak can travel on to Maine! If you are unaware, currently, to travel by train from, let’s say DC to Maine, you have to get off in South Station, and travel by another mode (there’s a subway connection for example) to get to North Station, and hop on another Amtrak train. That’s pretty lame, if not downright embarrassing. Especially given the Big Dig project.

I’m thinking we’re going to see a major shift to train travel in the next few decades, due to its efficiency. Amtrak needs a lot of help, but the basics are there. Following Europe’s and Japan’s lead, high speed rail works. Maybe not the fastest for trans-continental travel, but for most trips, it is a pleasant mode of travel. Especially when the tracks have been converted for high speed travel (>100mph, which means banked rails and few stops). But I digress.

I felt pretty awful this morning, but I’ve recovered and hope to maintain till I get home to Medford. Sadly, this meant I had to strategically skip today’s authentic Philly Cheesesteak lunch. If you know my tastes, despite eating a reduced-animal protein diet, this saddened me greatly.

That ends today’s dispatch.

UPDATE: I short changed Boston’s South Station here. I had not been in the portion that Amtrak travelers would see until the night I returned from Philly. It’s pretty cool.

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted.
9 July, 2008, 9:18 am
Filed under: General

Granted, it isn’t Global Trottage like my good friend Ash is doing right now, but damn it, I’m going on vacation.

We’re headed to the northern Adirondacks. It’s become a yearly tradition to go visit my Aunt and Uncle at their lakeside “camp” in the summer. It takes six or seven hours to get there, but it’s worth it. Even with gas prices as they are.

When I get back, I immediately head to Philly for UPenn’s Web in Higher Ed conference for a couple days. Should be cool.

In Headphones
8 June, 2008, 12:43 am
Filed under: music

Spent a good portion of the night in my headphones, after completing a bunch of work for school. After listening to a bunch of Radiohead podcasts (search iTunes to see if they’re still available, I downloaded them months ago) which had rough cuts of all their tracks from In Rainbows, along with video of the band laying the tracks down in the studio, I decided to finally, actually purchase the “new” album at iTunes.

I’m way behind on this, I know.

I should have participated in their “download and set your own price, if any” experiment, to show my support for their innovative attempt at breaking the stranglehold that traditional labels have on music distribution and rights.

Then, once the album was fully, regularly released, I was happy to see it was an EMI track, at least, so that it qualified for iTunes Plus (no DRM, 256kbps). I’ve set out a rule for myself that I no longer buy DRMed stuff.

But to take it to the next level, Radiohead then on iTunes released the “stems” from their song “Nude.” Stems are the individual musicians’ tracks, eg the bass line, the drum track, etc. You could buy them and remix them at will. They would also send you a link to a fully editable GarageBand file to remix. Very cool, except that artists like Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) have already done such experiments, without asking people to pay. The whole experiment is great advertising. I don’t think you should make the participants pay to do your advertising.

Never the less the results have been impressive. So many masterfully made tracks, all very different from each other. This week I saw a full-fledged video built around Nude, in a way that defies explanation. You need to watch it. Be patient, it takes about a minute to really get into it. Brilliant.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "Big Ideas (Don’t get any) on Vimeo", posted with vodpod

Hillary The Fail
3 June, 2008, 1:23 pm
Filed under: politics, Politics 2008

I had a lot of respect for Senator Hillary Clinton before she entered the 2008 Presidential campaign. She had lived through a lot of public turmoil, with many personal attacks from conservatives during her time in as First Lady. She tried to use the First Lady’s position as one that could actually accomplish something meaningful, other than hosting teas and giving tours of the White House.

She set back the cause of universal health care in this country 50 years when she bungled that task. Granted, it wasn’t totally her fault, she was just acting like the Republicans who were attacking her on the issue.

Then, she had the great personal tragedy for all the world to see, all while trying to raise a teenager in the White House. Then she recovers a few years later from all this to successfully become a Senator in a state she’d never lived in. She certainly is a fighter, and she dedicated her life to the public, despite all the personal difficulty it may have caused for her.

But now, we’ve seen her Presidential campaign.

She’s repeatedly been unable to properly budget her campaign’s finances. She’s repeatedly had to “loan” her campaign millions from her personal fortune. All while claiming she’ll be able to run the national budget better than the current administration—who is also always taking out loans to finance its hi-jinx.

She conveniently bends the truth to make it fit her agenda, whenever it’s convenient for her. If you disagree, her surrogates will attack you. She’s all for the rules… that are beneficial to her. She’s against rules that are “unfair” even if she was for them just a few months ago.

She’ll say anything for an applause line. Drop the gas tax? Sure. It doesn’t make any financial sense, but what do economists know? It’s get me a few votes!

She’ll leverage racist poor whites to advance her personal agenda, and tell us “You never know, look what happened to Bobby Kennedy.”

Despite absolutely no chance of winning a fight she’s quagmired in, she refuses to quit, continuing to fight on wasting untold millions, at untold cost to her party’s ultimate success in November. All for personal glory.

Now I have no personal respect for Senator Clinton. Senator Clinton represents all that is wrong with the Democratic Party. Senator Clinton is one example of why I am not a Democrat.