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January 29, 2009

A new era

“We know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.”

January 4, 2008

Iowa Caucus: Success

Finally a candidate who seems not just passable, but someone to be excited about. What I want for Christmas next year: a trip to Obama's inauguration next January.

On a related note, on my way back from the holiday I enjoyed a nice read in The Atlantic on Why Obama Matters.

Happy 2008.

February 17, 2007

climateprediction.net

Tired of burning extra CPU cycles by folding proteins and looking for E.T.? Try climateprediction.net, brought to you on BOINC, the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing and the same platform that backs SETI@Home. From the official site:

What is climateprediction.net?

Climateprediction.net is the largest experiment to try and produce a forecast of the climate in the 21st century. To do this, we need people around the world to give us time on their computers - time when they have their computers switched on, but are not using them to their full capacity.

[read more about the experiment]

Why?

Climate change, and our response to it, are issues of global importance, affecting food production, water resources, ecosystems, energy demand, insurance costs and much else. There is a broad scientific consensus that the Earth will probably warm over the coming century; climateprediction.net should, for the first time, tell us what is most likely to happen.

[read more about climate science]

How do I participate?

Windows and Linux users can get started here. Mac OSX users will have to use the beta for now (I've been running it and it seems solid so far). I created an ITP team both for the regular version and the beta. The team names are both ITP and the team IDs are 6006 and 35, respectively.

Here are some captures of the rendered screensaver graphics:

November 29, 2006

Giving us what we want: Why the long tail is really growing and how it could break our society

To start, I haven't yet read Chris Anderson's The Long Tail, but I have seen him speak on the subject. So to some degree this is informed by Mr. Anderson's views, but if this feels like a chapter from the book, let me apologize in advance and claim independent invention.

The domain

As many of you probably are already aware, the 'long tail' refers to a section of the power law distribution which comes up in countless aspects of our world — very commonly specifically referring to media distribution, wherein a 'chosen few' make up a disproportionately large share of sales. The long tail is the huge number of items which each have a small number of sales. More specifically, the concept points to the fact that as modes of distribution change for largely technological reasons, the hits (think Britney and Star Wars) are becoming less important and indie pieces and cult classics out on the tail of the curve are selling more and becoming more relevant.

If you don't believe this, go see Mr. Anderson speak, or I would presume that you could just read his book as well. You could also find a quick introduction to the topic on Wikipedia. I think it's pretty clear that things are changing, and that most arguments on the topic will take place over the degree of change and its implications, not the presence thereof. Remember Tower Records?

Isn't this great?!?

Rosy-eyed and inspired by the promise of a new world of our own creation, in the beginning I saw only the upsides to this trend. Isn't it fantastic, I thought, now I can finally escape those lousy radio singles and hollow Hollywood action flicks and find media with real substance, something that really speaks to me. And if I can't find it, I can always just roll my own.

No really, isn't this great?!?

I still largely do think it's great actually, particularly the user-generated aspects, but I'm starting to see a big potential cultural downside. As we have more choices across the board, that means a denser distribution along almost any axis of view: more hardcore punk, more Gelugpa chanting, more documentaries about peanut farming, you name it — just more.

Again, isn't this great? Well, at first glance it is, at least through the idealist's lens that would tell us that given all of this wide and varied information that we will graze across it, gobbling up wide and varied cross-section of opinions, knowledge, and inspiration.

But is that really what we will do?

When I listen, I only hear myself

Signs point to no. In online communities, I can't see a lot of evidence that Air America fans are drifting over to Fox News or Ann Coulter for a little balance. They might, however, nominate their favorite liberal blog for an award. Or vice versa.

When we're given an all we can eat information buffet, it seems that we tend to just stuff ourselves on the same old meat and potatoes we're used to, while ignoring that wide diversity that brought us to the table in the first place. orgnet.com has an interesting piece called Political Books and Polarized Readers that analyzes the 'also bought' data from Amazon to show this effect in sharp relief.

But that's all I care to hear

And so then, instead of just measuring our increasing engagement in a broadening scope of opportunities, the growth in the long tail is actually fueled in large part by a narrowing of individual focus. When we read, hear, or watch something we like or agree with, we can now hunt down more of the same, almost effortlessly. And few, if any, of us can resist the temptation of being told over and over again that we are absolutely and completely right.

So the tail grows and grows, as we snatch up long lost import singles and director's cuts and books that express the same opinions as that last book we liked so much. And we are happy, but perhaps not fulfilled.

Now it's all I can find at all

Throw in an effective recommendation system of the future and now you've really got a problem, not because it won't work, but because it will. Given an infinitely long tail, you can find an infinite number of works that align with any narrow point of view (exaggeration to be sure, but within the scope of our media consumption capabilities, not excessively so). And how to browse an infinite catalog but through an innovative recommendation system? But then given that perfect system it will know that since I loved that Bill O'Reilly book so much that I must want nothing more than books by a selection of Bill O'Reilly clones. And I probably do — or at least I'll gobble them up happily if that's all I see.

But at least I know I'm right

With all of this confirmation of our viewpoints, what do we get but a polarized world where each side shares little but an adherence to our opinions that borders upon the religious? And think not of a two party system of disagreement, but of a hectagon where each side, though small, can be just as polarized and isolated from the rest.

The big three networks aren't enough either

At least at some ranges of scale, the value of media as a whole grows with the number of options presented. Television is worth much more with two channels with one, and more still with ten channels or fifty. I believe that in an ideal world this trend has the chance to continue onward to infinity. It's up to us as consumers and especially as technologists to attempt to continue to create and extract this added value.

There's a world of information out there — use it. Not just to read a rehash of that same blog post you just read six times in theme and variations, but instead to truly expand your horizons. We all would do well to expose ourselves to the other side from time to time. In the worst case, we are better informed and prepared to discuss or argue for our side, and in the best case we might learn something truly profound that shifts our viewpoint entirely.

On the technologists' side, Wikipedia comes to mind (as it so often does) as a good example of a structure that can encourage this kind of growth. Even ignoring the fact that it is user-generated, simply through diverse content and dense hyperlinking, I find it almost impossible to read about just one topic on any given visit, and often these journeys lead to surprisingly diverse content even after only a few links. Recommendation systems will need to be designed with these thoughts in mind and encourage us to learn, not just buy the same old comfortable materials and tired entertainment, while keeping enough comfort and familiarity to maintain market share and thus relevance. How about a reco system with a 'how crazy are you feeling today?' slider that lets you fine tune the amount of diversity that suits your current mood?

This is the end - this is only the beginning

I do believe that the exploding mass of content available online and otherwise is an inherently good thing at its core, but we need ways to manage it efficiently and most importantly we need to be of the mind to use it responsibly and effectively. Mental laziness disguised as a voracious appetite for learning (the same thing over and over again) is nothing strange in this new world, so let us not become victims of this masquerader.

Sorting by popularity so that the favorites of the group float to the top achieves little more than what the 'old media' has been doing for decades: letting the majority decide for the diverse minorities. Conversely, as collaborative filtering systems improve, there will be a point where increased absolute filtering performance will only serve to amplify the echo, as our individual past is projected forward to become our future, preventing us from growing and expanding mentally and philosophically. Between and along the edges of these regions lies a land of great need and opportunity.

November 10, 2006

Rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg

How did I miss this? Colbert is always great, but this (especially the first part, delivered live) is Colbert at his absolute finest, in the company of the President. Incredible. If only this clip would last two more years, it would be perfect.

(shown in two parts)

Thanks to Austin of Java Lava for the tip

November 1, 2006

Abe Lincoln Says...

“Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation and makes crimes out of things that are not crimes.”

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Maybe our legislators in Washington should have stayed awake during history class.

and finally...

"In a closed society where everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity." -Hunter S. Thompson

October 29, 2006

NewsViz (v.0.0.1 alpha)

NewsViz is an application I am working on for Mainstreaming Information, a class on information visualization at ITP. This is an early prototype, but the goal is to allow people to easily compare the outputs of various news outlets in order to compare and contrast the "facts" from each.

There are many additions and refinements on the way, including improved navigation, visualization of relationships between keywords, and the ability to easily navigate to the full content of any story, but in the meantime, feel free to take it for a spin and contact me with any comments or suggestions.

NewsViz screenshot (alpha)

October 21, 2006

Online Gambling Goes Underground

This week's BusinessWeek published a good analysis of the recent online gaming legislation.

However, depending on how the bill is implemented, it may not be that much more difficult. After all, online gamblers already had to have e-wallet accounts set up in order to gamble. "Dr. Pauly," for one, is betting that the law won't stop many. "It will be a nuisance, but if one site goes down a new one will pop up," says McGuire. He compares it to the illegal poker clubs in Manhattan that are closed down by police just to reopen in a new apartment building several weeks later. The night before PartyPoker stopped accepting U.S. bets; McGuire received an e-mail about a new New York club willing to take in some of the ousted players on an invitation-only basis. "One of the poker clubs goes down, another one will come up," says McGuire. "I have no intentions of stopping."

October 20, 2006

Visa, Copyright Infringement, and the Power of Alternatives

I saw this story from the Times this morning on Digg and just now happened onto the surface of an interesting resultant discussion on Alex's blog about the relative dangers of corporate vs. governmental regulation:

Cat and I have an ongoing discussion on whether corporate vs. governmental regulation is more dangerous. She leans towards the corporate being the lesser evil, where I believe corporate regulation (that is, companies deciding policy, disregarding lobbying) is the greater evil.

Visa just announced their intention to block payments to the Russian music download site AllofMP3. AllofMP3 insists upon its legality in terms of Russian copyright law—but has promised a change in its business model, hoping for more international acceptance (of course, this will come at a price, as the downloaders are quite happy with the current system).

But is Visa's extreme measure to block payments to AllofMP3 acceptable? As a digg poster commented, Since when has it been Visa's obligation to judge business morality? While I believe that businesses should have models of moral obligation, decisions such as these should be questioned by general consumers and more closely examined by relevant subscribers. Business policies, and corporate morality policies should be easily available, and digestible to consumers, subscribers, anyone who wants them, really—public accessibility is key. Archives of past business and policy movements should be equally accessible.

My personal position is that on strict philosophical grounds, companies and governments are in the position to, and in fact are expected to, make moral judgements. Industry not dumping toxic waste into rivers or bars not serving liquor to six year olds are two relatively simplistic cases where government and corporate regulation overlap. Both may be against government regulations, but in either case, even if there weren't regulations in place, one would hope that the public as a whole would demand some level of responsibility on the part of the businesses.

The problem is when governments and corporations make seemingly moralist decisions that alienate their users, either by preventing them from doing things which they believe harmless or simply forcing them to align by association with platforms with which they disagree.

Is AllofMp3.com legal? I don't know. I'm not a lawyer, and I don't know where the money goes once I send it to Russia. However, if I like cheap music and Visa is "Everywhere I Want to Be", then something doesn't add up.

This, however, is where governments and corporations differ, even if they are holding hands under the table. Visa is an independent entity, and as such is free to make reactionary, moralist decisions, even if misguided. And as soon as they alienate enough of their customers, you can bet there will be a new player on the market, with lower interest rates and better service to soak up the profits. Capitalism can be ugly at times, but in its ability to turn sheer greed into a positive impetus, it's magical.

To some extent, the same is true of government, for which we must be eternally grateful. However, there are a couple of major differences. First, it's hard to perform a wholesale change of government without bloodshed. If Sprint pisses me off, I can always switch to Cingular, but if George Bush pisses me off, the only things I can really do are complain, leave the country, or start a revolution, none of which manage to be particularly attractive or effective. There is impeachment, but historically that is roughly as common at the presidential level as revolution.

The other difference is that, truth be told, the first responsibility of an American business is to its own interests, while by the best definition we have, the first responsibility of the American government is to our interests. Now where the situation gets murky of course is that in order to protect its own interests, a company must also protect its customers interests. But that is a secondary objective, not the primary. So finally, here's the point. I don't think Visa is evil.

I think Visa is wrong.

In doing what they feel necessary to in some way save their own asses (and I don't want to hear the same people who preach how moral-less and greedy corporations are now all of a sudden decide that they are driven by some arbitrary moral agenda), be it from future regulatory action from the government, future lawsuits from the RIAA, or future backlash from customers that sincerely respect the value of copyright (doubtful), Visa has continued what could easily turn into a major miscue. Conservative policy and mediocrity are the bane of passionate users.

This isn't the first time credit processors have made a moral distinction. The vast majority of credit card issuers haven't served Internet gambling sites for almost as long as there have been Internet gambling sites. An entire industry has formed largely around this decision. Companies like FirePay and Neteller stepped in to fill the void (and make a substantial profit) almost immediately. And now, due to increased scrutiny by the U.S. government and, of comparable relevance, the fact that these two startups have grown into large, publicly traded corporations, they are on the brink of stepping down as the feeding tube for Internet gambling.

But what will happen? The gambling sites will not be starved by any stretch of the imagination. The current payment processors will either reconsider their stance or fade into the background, largely marginalized without the differential from traditional payment services (like Visa) created by the very black and white willingness and non-willingness to accept gambling transactions, and newcomers will step up to fill the void. No amount of legislation or threats of prison time or even death can keep an entire world of people from seizing an opportunity to make quick millions. Whatever the potential penalty, there will be a supplier — just not a publicly traded one.

The problem from Visa's point of view is that It's easy to fall into the trap that only a few people are hurt by any of these decisions. First, each group is much larger than one might think, and secondly, the disenfranchised groups add very quickly and tend to be vocal. It's much like the downfall of President Bush's approval rating. A chip at a time, one small group of Americans at a time, he lost support, all the while failing to realize or at least care that he was sliding down the side of a mountain from a pinnacle of popularity to the current widespread disapproval. That's what will happen to Visa if this trend continues. If Visa suddenly decided that drinking is bad and that Visa will not be accepted in establishments that serve alcohol, what do you think would happen to their membership?

This feedback loop is key to maintaining control over both government and private interests, but the public can only react to what is seen. And there are two equally important sides to this absorbtion of information — production and consumption. If either side is lacking, this massively parallel system of checks and balance breaks down. The tendency is that peoples' alarms are triggered and things change before it is too late. But admittedly, that works every time...until it doesn't.

Pay attention, and if you do nothing else — think.



The upside to all of this? I visited allofmp3.com and at first glance I have to respect the approach. The site design is adequate, but the interesting part, and the part I would like to see adopted elsewhere, is that you pay for what you get, in terms of quality. Well, lets say bitrate. You can judge the quality of the music for yourself.

For example, say I want to buy Diddy's new CD (I don't). If I just want to hear the tunes at a decent quality (128kbps), I can get the 19 songs for $2.42, or if I will tolerate still lower quality and don't care to have my own copy, I can listen for free. If on the other hand I must hear every nuance, I can pay $5.21 and get 320kbps (near CD quality). That's choice, and that's what I like to see. For comparison, in terms of data per dollar, allofmp3.com is still more expensive than a CD, with the cost of Diddy's CD extrapolated to PCM bitrates ringing in at just over $26 (based on the allofmp3.com 128kbps MP3 price), twice the cost of the physical CD on Amazon. Care to do the math on a "legitimate" online music store?

October 18, 2006

Way to go W!

Enough said.

(From thinkprogress.org)

October 17, 2006

The Net @ Risk (PBS)

Bill Moyers: The Net at Risk

Moyers on America
t r u t h o u t | Programming Note

Airdate: Wednesday, October 18, 2006, at 9:00 p.m. on PBS.

(Check local listings at http://www.pbs.org/moyers.)

"The Net at Risk" reports on what could happen if a few mega-media corporations get their way in Washington.

The future of the Internet is up for grabs. Big corporations are lobbying Washington to turn the gateway to the Web into a toll road. Yet the public knows little about what's happening behind closed doors where the future of democracy's newest forum is being decided. If a few mega media giants own the content and control the delivery of radio, television, telephone services and the Internet, they'll make a killing and citizens will pay for it. America's ability to compete in the global marketplace, the unfettered exchange of ideas online, and broadband services that could improve quality of life for millions are at stake. Some say the very future of democracy itself may hang in the balance. In "The Net at Risk," Bill Moyers and journalist Rick Karr report on the wannabe "lords of the Internet" and examine how promises by the big tel-co companies of a super-high speed Internet in return for deregulation and tax breaks have gone unfulfilled while the public has paid the price. After the documentary, Moyers leads a discussion on media reform to explore the real-world impact of deregulation on communities and citizen participation in democracy.

(From truthout.org via Japanic)

October 12, 2006

Censor This Post

I saw a talk this week by Ethan Zuckerman of globalvoicesonline.org, an organization dedicated to amplifying news feeds from the developing world into the eyes of our mainstream media.

Ethan's talk was motivational and thought provoking throughout, but I think the highlight for me was a quick story about a proxy server and a line of Javascript donated by the blogging community of Pakistan to help bloggers in India circumvent a goverment ban on blogspot.com URLs. From help-pakistan.com:

In light of the recent blogspot ban in India, the blogging community in Pakistan would like to present as a gift to the Indian blogging community a small script that can be inserted into their websites which converts all Blogspot links into a URL utilizing the proxy servers of pkblogs.com

Credit goes out to Adnan Siddiqui for creating this nifty javascript utility which quite simply needs to be installed on your file server and one line of code inserted into the header file of your website. Once installed all your surfers will automatically use pkblogs for all outgoing blogspot links

Download the ZIP file Pkblogs Script.zip

Please consider this as a gift from Pakistan to all Indians in hope of building friends across the border

God bless the hackers.


Another highlight of the talk was the conclusion when Red asked Ethan what we might do to help the world, what issues we might take on, and he responded:

You've got to find something you're passionate about, but passionate in a way that scares you. If it doesn't scare you, you haven't found the right thing.

October 11, 2006

RIGHT! The McLaughlin Group on Internet Gambling

Leave it to none other than Pat Buchanan to stand alone on the McLaughlin Group in support of this anti-American legislation. With any luck, the majority of the GOP's supporters aren't as blinded by the "American Values Agenda" and will put an end to this type of madness in the coming elections as these blatantly political tactics begin to backfire. Start the countdown...

Located via billrini.com

Land of the Free?

Even as we use terrorism as a guise to impose our specific brand of freedom upon the world through the use of violence and coercion, lawmakers are using this same terrorism as a long-awaited excuse to take away that freedom here at home. The system is sick, folks, and maybe beyond repair. Perhaps the evildoers are really just like bacteria, sent to this planet, by the same God that the politicians invoke whenever they have a personal agenda to advance, to compost this rotting corpse of a free nation. I hope not.

I love this country. As a matter of fact, I really know no other. I don't want to give up and move to Canada or France or Costa Rica or Zimbabwe or India or anywhere else for that matter. I love the people of this country. I've been to virtually every corner of America and everywhere I've been, I've been greeted with kindness.

What I don't love, however, is the way the current government continues to twist September 11 like a knife in the belly of the great people of this great nation, alienating us one by one in a sick mind experiment to see how far the citizens can be pushed before we stand up. Using our respect and mourning for those that died on September 11 and those that have died in vengeance and purported vengeance since as levers to pry us into accepting the new American ideals that democracy is silent agreement and that patriotism is blind faith is a tactic that is growing very old, very fast.

When, less than one month ago, I made the short walk on the morning of September 11 down to the former site of the World Trade Center and saw that an enormous contingent of the crowd were wearing black t-shirts with very plain and clear white text stating "9-11 was an inside job" I was saddened and embarassed. Not because of the presence of the protesters — actually I was rather moved that this country still allows the peaceful dissent of the people (most of the time at least). I was sad that we are living under a "leadership" that inspires such distrust, and embarassed that this "leadership" is primarily responsible for representing us to the rest of the world.

I'm not sure how much of this dissent made it into the mainstream national media. I saw firsthand one instance where a news reporter was threatening a protester with fictitious laws in an attempt to secure a clear backdrop of the gaping hole in the nation with no protesters in sight.

At one time, I thought that every youthful generation just needed a cause, and that without Vietnam or conspicuous segregation to rebel against, my generation and those after were, at times, looking for battles to fight for rebellion's sake. Now it seems to me that the inevitability lies on the other side of the equation.

Overcomforted veteran politicians have an inherent need for a personal agenda to impose, perhaps to leave some semblance of a legacy behind, perhaps because disconnect from their constituents makes them believe they are doing the right thing, or perhaps just to vie for more money and more power.

In any case, the reason I am writing this now may seem a bit petty, and certainly relative to many of the issues we face, it is. But I feel so strongly only because the attack is so arbitrary and ultimately personal. In the past weeks the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was slipped through both houses of Congress and now sits on our President's desk awaiting signature, conveniently tucked away at the bottom of a bill that supposedly focuses on port security. It's another example of pandering to a niche constituency. Polls have shown that a substantial majority of Americans don't want a ban on Internet poker. But, capitalizing upon loopholes in the political system, the most manipulative and conniving politicians impose their ways on the masses in a carefully architected attack on our personal freedom.

Ironically enough, what this bill really does is only eliminate the purest of law abiding citizens from playing, and the most conniving and fanatical players will continue, creating more criminal minds in the process as we move to research technologies like Tor and beyond to circumvent these bans.

Without locking down the entire country behind a firewall a la China, I don't believe there's any way these laws can truly be enforced. Sure, there will be enough of a nuisance that the state of the game will be crippled, but the "problem" will never be eliminated. Why can't these people learn? The hackers will always win. And by the way, as an aside to all you geniuses in Washington — if anything that even approaches the effect of that China-style national firewall ever comes into being in this country, that will be my breaking point. I'll be the first one marching my happy, intelligent, GDP-boosting ass to Canada or beyond, and I'll be taking a whole crowd of great American citizens with me. And just remember that - you've got the tanks and the bombs and the code of law on your side, but when it really comes down to it, we've got the brains. And you know it, and it scares the shit out of you. And so you try to keep a little control over what is going on or squelch it entirely, because when you see something you don't immediately understand or agree with, that's what you do. But take it easy, because just as fast as we can build this economic engine here, we can take it elsewhere.

And this isn't just another case of angst-ridden twenty-somethings looking for something to argue. Anchor Keith Olbermann painted this picture of opportunistic manipulation very clearly one month ago. Read the quote. Watch the video. If you haven't already.

The only positive on 9/11 and the days and weeks that so slowly and painfully followed it was the unanimous humanity, here, and throughout the country. The government, the President in particular, was given every possible measure of support.

Those who did not belong to his party -- tabled that.

Those who doubted the mechanics of his election -- ignored that.

Those who wondered of his qualifications -- forgot that.

History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government cannot be taken away from that government by its critics. It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation's wounds, but to take political advantage.

Terrorists did not come and steal our newly-regained sense of being American first, and political, fiftieth. Nor did the Democrats. Nor did the media. Nor did the people.

The President -- and those around him -- did that.

They promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them, "bi-partisanship" meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as morally or intellectually confused, as appeasers, as those who, in the Vice President's words yesterday, "validate the strategy of the terrorists."

They promised protection, and then showed that to them "protection" meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken, a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated al-Qaida as much as we did.

The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war, on the false premise that it had 'something to do' with 9/11 is "lying by implication."

The impolite phrase is "impeachable offense."


Why is it that my government insists on protecting me from myself, when what I really desire is protection from my government?

September 7, 2006

Rebuilding

Here's USA Today flash piece on the proposed rebuilding of Ground Zero and some of the reasons for the delays in redevelopment. Living now a few blocks from the site (within view toward the right edge of the graphic on the USA Today piece in fact), I am very much looking forward to seeing construction move forward. I have seen the models of the final two designs for the main tower at the World Financial Center and while there is a certain delicate beauty to what ultimately came to be the second place design, I think there is a strength in the relative simplicity of the final design that will come to be appreciated much more widely once accompanied by its intended awe-inspiring scale.

I remember visiting New York as a child and how, coming in from the outside and standing atop the observation deck, the towers were the city to me. Simple and enormous — a tribute to modernity that even a child could appreciate quite tangibly.

As it stands today, the gaping hole of the site is a very visible remaining wound of the attacks of almost five years ago. I was living a thousand miles away on that morning, but even still, the memories the site stirs of seeing the events unfold, even though for me only on television, are powerful. I can only imagine what it is like for those who were more directly involved and how positive I hope it will be for at least the physicality of the site to be repaired.

September 1, 2006

Bourdain in Beirut

I finally caught Travel Channel's Anthony Bourdain in Beirut last night and it was an intense hour of television. What was originally intended as just another episode of the excellent travel and food show No Reservations abruptly turned into a first hand account of the beginnings of war and the ensuing struggle to escape.

It's a must see glimpse into the world of war, behind the scenes and shot from the opposite side of the bombs that we Americans are used to. Watching the war-ravaged locals try to keep the party going even as war breaks out is at once inspiring and devastating, and hearing a first hand account of the representation of our nation that President Bush portrays to those in Beirut is purely sickening. But whatever your political bent, it's a good perspective to see for those of us that are lucky to not have witnessed it first hand thus far.

Rumor has it that the show will air again on the Travel Channel later in September, and a written account by Bourdain is available here.

December 24, 2005

About Me

Me at ITP Winter Show 2005

Welcome. I have started this site for myself and others as a memoir of my trip through life and, for now, the Interactive Telecommunications Program experience and as a place to log the ideas and thoughts that otherwise seem to slip away. I look forward to comments and criticisms, helping and being helped, and whatever else comes my way. Life is good.


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