RSSCategory: Communication

An Odd Email, and the Evolving Web

May 30, 2013 | By | Reply More

I recently received the following email from someone at aol.com to one of my regular legitimate email addresses:

Subject: What are these?

These look like dodge cars in the shape of colorful onions.

What is Buckminster and Chihuly Do Rounds?

Hmm. I get quite a few engineered phishing emails. But this one was not quite of the mold. I decided to google the phrase, and it led me to the Neighborhood Stabilization Team for the City of St. Louis home page that looks like this:

NabStabChihuly

Ah Ha! I thought. So I replied:

I had to Google the phrase to remember what you are asking about. The site rotates several images, so you may need to hit refresh a few times to get back to mine: Neighborhood Stabilization Team

The caption made more sense with the full image that they showed back when I submitted my pic to the city.

This is the pond in front of the geodesic dome of the Climatron (which showed the dome above and its reflection below the strip that they still have on display).

So the title refers to the round dome designed by Buckminster Fuller and the round glass onions designed by Dale Chihuly, with a weak medical pun about “doing rounds” or seeing what there is to see.

But the city website designer eventually chopped the aspect ratio of the banner image from 4:3 to 9:16 to 3:17, removing most of the image, but keeping the now enigmatic title.

Here’s the original:

P1020234

So what happened is that I submitted a few pix to a photo contest in 2007, and one of my shots was used as a web page banner. But as the needs changed, so did the image, until the final view little resembles the intent nor aspect of the original. And the caption that has been propagated is more absurd than intended.

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Parsing Obama’s terrorism speech

May 27, 2013 | By | Reply More

Glenn Greenwald characterizes Barack Obama’s recent terrorism speech as a Rorschach test–something for everyone:

The highly touted speech Obama delivered last week on US terrorism policy was a master class in that technique. If one longed to hear that the end of the “war on terror” is imminent, there are several good passages that will be quite satisfactory. If one wanted to hear that the war will continue indefinitely, perhaps even in expanded form, one could easily have found that. And if one wanted to know that the president who has spent almost five years killing people in multiple countries around the world feels personal “anguish” and moral conflict as he does it, because these issues are so very complicated, this speech will be like a gourmet meal. But whatever else is true, what should be beyond dispute at this point is that Obama’s speeches have very little to do with Obama’s actions, except to the extent that they often signal what he intends not to do.

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Censoring PBS

May 27, 2013 | By | Reply More

How much is PBS self-censoring? I live in St. Louis, where the PBS affiliate has never included the programming of Democracy Now. Bill Moyers was long a persona non grata according to the powers that be at PBS. These two items are all the evidence you need to know whether PBS censors progressive points of view. Ring of Fire has now provided even more evidence:

America’s Public Broadcasting System, or PBS, is surrendering to private influence of the Billionaire industrialists, the Koch Brothers. “Citizen Koch,” a documentary that exposes the money driven politics that influenced the Wisconsin uprising, was rejected by PBS for fear of offending one of its key contributors, David Koch. The move by PBS was not the failed negotiation as they suggest it was, but a censorship, against their better judgment, to protect the hand that feeds them.

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The stunning numbers of YouTube

May 21, 2013 | By | Reply More

These numbers stagger the mind:

Users of the world’s most popular video sharing service upload 100 hours of video to the site every minute. That’s 6,000 hours of video every hour and a whopping 144,000 hours of video every day.

And here’s how Youtube does it.

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The credibility problem of the Fed

May 15, 2013 | By | Reply More

What is the Fed good at? Not much, according to Jessie Eisenger of ProPublica:

Investors . . . have almost no confidence in the Federal Reserve or the economics profession. And for good reason. It’s impressive that the Fed and many economists have successfully predicted the path of interest rates and inflation in the wake of the worst financial crisis in a generation. But neither the central bank nor academicians managed to predict or prevent the crisis in the first place. The failure dwarfs the accomplishment.

The Fed’s track record is out-and-out abysmal.The Fed began its lender-of-last-resort role in 2007, but did little to avoid or minimize the financial crisis. Once it hit, it did the right thing to flood the markets with money, but — along with the Treasury and a passive Justice Department — let banks and top executives off the hook. And now, asset prices are going wild. Junk bonds are up. Stocks are up. Housing in Phoenix and Brooklyn is going mad.

This prebubble euphoria only undermines the Federal Reserve’s fragile credibility. It reinforces the notion that it seems to know only two things: how to inflate bubbles and how to studiously not recognize them.

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Comprensive look at American English dialects

May 5, 2013 | By | 2 Replies More

You could get lost in these maps and data regarding American English dialects for hours. I learned many things, so as the fact that there are 16 vowels (not just a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y), and 24 consonants. I invite you to check this out. dialect map

And the fact that we haven’s pulled things into a homogeneous language, despite all

the years of electronic mass communication demonstrates, I believe, that we are inherently tribal–that we are wired to strive to be like our local tribe and different than those who we perceive to be outsiders.

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All communications among Americans are subject to surveillance

May 4, 2013 | By | Reply More

Glenn Greenwald gathers the evidence for concluding that all (not some, not most) telephone and email communications among Americans are subject to screening by the U.S. Surveillance State.

That no human communications can be allowed to take place without the scrutinizing eye of the US government is indeed the animating principle of the US Surveillance State. Still, this revelation, made in passing on CNN, that every single telephone call made by and among Americans is recorded and stored is something which most people undoubtedly do not know, even if the small group of people who focus on surveillance . . . Some new polling suggests that Americans, even after the Boston attack, are growing increasingly concerned about erosions of civil liberties in the name of Terrorism. Even those people who claim it does not matter instinctively understand the value of personal privacy: they put locks on their bedroom doors and vigilantly safeguard their email passwords. That’s why the US government so desperately maintains a wall of secrecy around their surveillance capabilities: because they fear that people will find their behavior unacceptably intrusive and threatening . . .

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U.S. Supreme Court limits state government access to citizens

May 1, 2013 | By | Reply More

Modern times are discouraging to those of us who believe that freely available information is the only way to run a democracy. Here’s the latest blow, as reported by Mother Jones:

On Monday, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that states have no constitutional obligation to honor public records requests from non-residents. Journalists, who frequently rely on freedom of information laws to expose corruption and break open stories, fear that the decision may make it harder for them to access public records.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) and 53 other media organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing:

By largely limiting public record access in Virginia to commonwealth citizens, [the law] inhibits the media from acquiring newsworthy records and stymies efforts to provide state-by-state comparisons on important topics such as public education, healthcare, and law enforcement activities,” the media organizations argued in their brief.

MuckRock, a website that files public records requests on behalf of activists, journalists is proposing this fix, offering out-of-staters seeking public records by pairing them with locals willing to co-file the requests.

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Bradley Manning barred as S.F. Gay Pride Grand Marshal; abusive corporations welcomed.

April 28, 2013 | By | Reply More

Glen Greenwald reports that Bradley Manning may not be honored at this year’s San Francisco Gay Pride Parade, though corrupt and abusive corporations are welcome:

So apparently, the very high-minded ethical standards of Lisa L Williams and the SF Pride Board apply only to young and powerless Army Privates who engage in an act of conscience against the US war machine, but instantly disappear for large corporations and banks that hand over cash. What we really see here is how the largest and most corrupt corporations own not just the government but also the culture. Even at the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade, once an iconic symbol of cultural dissent and disregard for stifling pieties, nothing can happen that might offend AT&T and the Bank of America. The minute something even a bit deviant takes place (as defined by standards imposed by America’s political and corporate class), even the SF Gay Pride Parade must scamper, capitulate, apologize, and take an oath of fealty to their orthodoxies (we adore the military, the state, and your laws). And, as usual, the largest corporate factions are completely exempt from the strictures and standards applied to the marginalized and powerless. Thus, while Bradley Manning is persona non grata at SF Pride, illegal eavesdropping telecoms, scheming banks, and hedge-fund purveryors of the nation’s worst right-wing agitprop are more than welcome.

Greenwald also points out the flaw in Ms. Williams’ thinking, which is a conflation I often hear, even among many folks who think of themselves as progressive:

Equating illegal behavior with ignominious behavior is the defining mentality of an authoritarian – and is particularly notable coming from what was once viewed as a bastion of liberal dissent.

And how should one now characterize the Gay Pride parade?

Yet another edgy, interesting, creative, independent event has been degraded and neutered into a meek and subservient ritual that must pay homage to the nation’s most powerful entities and at all costs avoid offending them in any way.

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