Sunday, February 20, 2011

Freedom. Exercised.

The news out of Wisconsin this past week has been fascinating for many reasons. It's been interesting to see the tensions of our political, social and economic challenges play out on a normally civil mid-western stage. And the turmoil in the middle east adds a depth that helps us keep it in some perspective.

That it's taking places in Madison adds personal interest. I was there in the fall of 2007 for a national GIS Conference and used the occasion to tour the state capitol. It's a lovely building and was fully open to the public when I visited.


This same spot has been filled with Wisconsin folks lately, exercising their right to speak. Here's a view from this weekend.

Protests - Capitol Dome, Feb 19

I like this.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Success! I Fixed A Google Maps Mistake. Now, For the Next One...

I got word from Google Maps today that they have accepted my correction to the location of the Judy V charter fishing boat. Google had shown it as a business located on the street outside our house, but it's actually based at the Indian River Inlet Marina, south east of here.

We live on Inlet Place, in Lewes. The Indian River Inlet Marina is on Inlet Road, south of Dewey Beach. Unfortunately, the road data that Google Maps has for Delaware doesn't include Inlet Road, so we tend to get identified as the location of things at the Inlet. For a short time, the offices of Delaware Seashore State Park were found (by Google, anyway) at our house. I think I sent a correction on that one as well.

I can't remember when I submitted the Judy V correction, but it's probably been less than a year. Back in April of last year, I gave a presentation on GIS and on-line mapping to a class of the Delaware academy of Lifelong Learning. I used my correction request as an example of what to be careful about with on-line maps.

It's not Google's fault, really. They are an aggregater of other data. They use state, federal or private sector aerial photography for their "satellite" view. They use crowd-sourced information for reviews of businesses and photos of places. And they use publicly available GIS data for roads, cities, waterways and the like. That Inlet Road is not on their maps yet speaks to a failure of what-ever mapping company they are using to provide road data to pick up Inlet Road.

For the record, the Delaware DataMIL, which serves statewide road data for Delaware, does have Inlet Road.

Now that the Judy V's place-marker has been moved, I see that Google identifies our house as the local headquarters of the Coast Guard.

I guess I need to get back into correction-suggestion mode.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

This is Molly Lewis. She Made This Song Which I Really Like (For Several Reasons)

Let's start with a few basic facts. I am, and have been for a while, a fan of Stephen Fry. He's a hugely intelligent and terribly interesting writer, actor, director, etc. I first found him when he and his then performing partner Hugh Laurie (who I also really like) put together a TV series of PG Wodehouse stories (I love PG Wodehouse's writing too).

I also like quirky music, idiosyncratic singer-songwriters, and female vocalists. And I like real songs; too much of music these days is just an excuse for elaborate stage shows and dancers. There's nothing wrong with dance, but I like musicians and singers who play and sing songs.

So this evening I found this, by way of MetaFilter. It's by Molly Lewis and is a sung open letter to Stephen Fry, who is gay, proposing a combining of genetic material to improve the human genome.

I understand Mr. Fry heard this when it came out last spring and was charmed. I just think it's cool.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Walk Around Killens Pond

I spent part of Saturday afternoon walking around Killens Pond. Daughter #2 wanted to spend the day at Lake Forest High school, watching a high school swim meet (which her school won, I think). I decided to use that as an excuse to spend some time at Killens Pond State Park with my camera.

Afterwards, I spent some time at the new Kent County Library, working online via their free wifi (thanks, very much) until it was time to pick up my daughter again.

Is That Mr. Bill?

I'm a huge fan of Craig Ferguson and his Late, Late Show. Recently, as I was watching him do his twitter and e-mails segment, I found myself thinking about Mr. Bill, an early feature of the old Saturday Night Live.

You Have a Right to Free Speech, But Have Responsibility Too

Shirley Sherrod is suing Andrew Breitbart for libel. I think she has a case. Breitbart was served papers during the Conservative Political Action Conference the other day, according to a story on the  conference in the New York Times.
Andrew Breitbart, the owner of several conservative Web sites, was served at the conference on Saturday with a lawsuit filed by Shirley Sherrod, the former Agriculture Department employee who lost her job last year over a video that Mr. Brietbart posted at his site 
The video was selectively edited so that it appeared Ms. Sherrod was confessing she had discriminated against a farmer because he was white. In the suit, which was filed in Washington on Friday, Ms. Sherrod says the video has damaged her reputation and prevented her from continuing her work. 
Mr. Breitbart said in a statement that he “categorically rejects the transparent effort to chill his constitutionally protected free speech.”
Everyone has a right to free speech, but we also have a responsibility to speak truth. Libel is libel. It may certainly be spoken and you may certainly be sued for it.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Waves of Justice are Ridden Slowly?

Former Rehoboth Beach lifeguard Michael Scanlon was back in the news this week. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison on Friday for conspiracy in a hideously complicated case tied to the Jack Abramoff bribery and corruption scandal.

Scanlon had pleaded guilty back in November of 2005. I remember being struck by the local paper's headline, "Rehoboth Beach lifeguard pleads guilty to conspiracy." I thought it a sample of how a local newspaper -- all local media, really -- tried to keep a local focus on the news. I was a little charmed, if also scandalized, by the idea of a jet-setting lifeguard.

November 2005 seems a generation ago. Back then we were deep in the mire that was the Bush administration. The Abramoff scandal was the tip of an iceberg that only agonizingly slowly knocked some sense of how bad things had gotten into the public's mind.

It turns out that Scanlon has spent his time since then living up to the terms of a plea agreement that has seen him help bring the slow, but certain, tides of justice to bear on a collection of corrupt bastards. I guess it takes time.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Harsh. Based on Reality. But Ultimately Wrong

The excellent Letters of Note blog today has posted a late 1967 letter from a record company executive to one of the managers of the Grateful Dead, scolding the band for their unprofessional behavior in the studio during the making of the album Anthem of the Sun.

I think it is funny as hell to read this now. Here are some bits:
...the most unreasonable project with which we have ever involved ourselves.
It's apparent that nobody in your organization has enough influence over Phil Lesh to evoke anything resembling normal behavior. 
With their attitudes and their inability to take care of business when it's time to do so would lead us to believe that they never will be truly important.
The Dead were certainly weird in those days. Anthem of the Sun is one of their more out-there and experimental efforts. But it has some gems, including attempts to capture their astonishing jamming of that period on pieces such as The Other One (cf. 1968 version and 1989 version).

It's not surprising that music industry folks thought they would fade away. Looking back over the long history of the band (they continued until the death of Jerry Garcia in 1995), it's clear that the Grateful Dead were never going to fit comfortably in the music industry. They didn't make product, they created an atmosphere in which music could come into being. Sometimes it was pretty lame, but mostly is was fabulous.

Letters of Note adds that the producer referred to in the letter eventually quit the project; "apparently the final straw was a request by guitarist Bob Weir to create the illusion of 'thick air' in the recording studio." I remember reading or hearing about this -- I think in Phil Lesh's memoir Searching for the Sound  -- as an example of Bob Weir's inventiveness. Lesh says, if I remember who said this, that what Bobby was really going for was the sort of compression that is now a standard tool in all recording studios. It didn't exist in 1967. They hadn't invented it yet. But Weir knew it was needed.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Winter Walk on the Beach

We had sunshine and blue skies today, so I took advantage of the change in the weather to walk the beach and the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach this morning.

I was out early, but the tents and signs and flags were already going up for the Polar Bear Plunge to take place in the afternoon. By the time I was done and headed out of town, the town was filling up with plungers and their friends. But I still got some quiet alone-ish time on the beach.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Columnist Slams Redskins Owner and I Cannot Disagree With Him

I am a Redskins fan. I have been since the 1972 season, when I was 10 years old and first learning about the game of football. It should be no surprise to football fans that I am not happy with the current ownership of my team. And neither is Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten.

In his column, Memo to Dan Snyder: Thank you for your stewardship of the Redskins, Weingarten starts with the fact that Redskins owner dan Snyder has been trying to get a reporter fired for having written an unflattering article.
I just want you to know you have my full support in this matter, as I support everything you have done during your stewardship of the Redskins. You rock. I wish you good health and long life and hope you run the franchise for many, many years to come. I say this with utmost sincerity as a lifelong fan of the New York Giants.

I know you are taking some criticism today from carping media types. They seem to think that you are not only behaving like a petty, vindictive bully but also that you are being strategically stupid - by bringing a vast new audience to a three-month-old, otherwise-obscure alternative-media piece, which can be found here.
I cannot disagree with what Weingarten has written. Except that thing about the Giants. Don't much like them.