May Rambling: Faraway fire; faux news; second chances

I was noting in particular two Billy Joel songs, ‘Get It Right The First Time’ from 1977 and ‘Second Wind (You’re Only Human)’ from 1985, and how I prefer the latter sentiment.

Chuck Miller has taken on the task of promoting the work of his “fellow Times Union community bloggers, until that day when the Times Union itself will restore the ‘Best of Our Blogs’ feature to the print edition of the paper.” And one of those “well-written articles” was mine. Merci, Chuck.

The specter of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory looms over the garment factory that collapsed last month in Bangladesh, killing more than [1100] workers… But the world is smaller than it was 102 years ago. Tragedies of this sort in the Third World aren’t engendered only by forces in their proximity, and they won’t be averted unless the responsibility for change is embraced globally. Also, Is Rana Disaster Bangladesh’s Triangle Fire? I wrote about the Triangle fire HERE.

Meryl’s quite reasonable concern: ‘truth’ is becoming ever-more elusive with advancing photoshop technology and our modern vehicles of ‘news resources’ and communication. Related: Since Twitter hasn’t built a correction feature, here are 3 things journalists can do instead. And Who’s The Biggest Liar?

Howard Kurtz’s Belated Comeuppance: The Media Critic’s Firing Comes After a Long History of Journalistic Abuses.

For New York State, I thought the effects of hydrofracking was only an upstate problem, but it appears Manhattan will have its own issues.

In What Ways Does The Culture Of Comics Have An Impact On How Business Is Done? Also, The Library of American Comics at 75 Titles (and counting): Moral rights, reprint rights.

Boston Marathon Runner & Psychiatrist Shares Personal Story of Patriots’ Day 2013; written by a cousin of a co-worker.

Harriet Quimby – the 1st US woman to get her pilot’s license.

Space Oddities and Sensations: Inspiring Teaching and Learning , featuring Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.

Rare footage of Helen Keller speaking with the help of Anne Sullivan.

I was playing my Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits, Volumes 1 & 2 on a car ride recently; his birthday is in May. I was noting in particular two songs, ‘Get It Right The First Time’ from 1977 and ‘Second Wind (You’re Only Human)’ from 1985, and how I prefer the latter sentiment. Melanie writes about the second time around. Also, practicing in pieces.

Richie’s road of death.

Sitemeter for Ken Levine’s blog, Taken 1:46 pm, May 8, 2013

I’m less interested Ken Levine won’t give Zach Braff one dime for his Kickstarter movie project than the sudden surge in his blog, from about 5000 hits a day, +/- 2000, to over 620,000 after that article, and over 96,000 for the followup. Levine also dissed the Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter, one that SamuraiFrog supported, BTW. There were a number of folks who dissed Braff, but supported the Veronica Mars effort, which otherwise could not have been made. Here’s Levine’s last word on the project, now that Braff has secured alternative funding. Also, another story on the controversy. Fascinated by the fact that this is what is considered controversial these days.

Al Capp: The Shame of Dogpatch.

Cathy Rigby played Peter Pan in Schenectady in April, and we declined to go. Now that I know that she’s retiring from the role after 3000+ performances, I wish I had gone.

Why McLean Stevenson quit MAS*H.

Ray Harryhausen, master of stop-motion animation, died this month. Mark Evanier has a nice Harryhausen story. Also, Ray was Steve Bissette’s hero. And here’s a short video you may recognize.

Don Rosa and the late Steve Gerber have been selected to receive the 2013 Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. Both are heroes in their field, and it was Gerber’s blog that prompted mine.

K-Chuck Radio: Rest in peace, George Jones.

Mark Evanier is dealing with the first Mother’s Day after his mom died much better than I did with mine.

The newspaper misspells its own name in an article about winning awards.

Dustbury speculates why the IRS “Where’s my refund?” site was down last weekend.

2001: A Space Odyssey – Howard Johnson’s Children’s Menu (1968).

The technology that links taxonomy and Star Trek.

How ‘Star Wars’ Nerds sold Lucasfilm to Disney.

These re-made Disney DVD covers are scarily accurate.

A librarian’s nostalgia

Guess what I miss is the human interaction of digging out the data by finding the right person at the right place with the right info.

I don’t think of myself as a nostalgic person. Sure, I play the music of the 1960s through the 1980s a lot. That’s not rooted in the historical recall, though; I’m OFTEN playing the music of that period. I’m playing Beatles thrice a year, at least.

Whereas how we did reference where I work as a business librarian has changed radically in the 20 years I’ve been there. What sent me down memory lane was the loss of power our building experienced last week. The librarians had these paper vertical files we hadn’t added to since 2005, since we now deal with digital documents. Finally, with little better to do, we started the process of dumping the paper documents, and it was the correct thing to do.

Once upon a time, we did not even have an Internet connection, not that there was much information available. E-mail was not something that everyone had.

In order to find out the answers to our questions, we did a search on some half dozen databases we paid for. They were available on CD-ROMs which went into a Local Area Network so that all seven of us could access the data at the same time. This was WAY better than the predecessor model, where we would have to wait our turn to get to the single CD-ROM terminal. No, I DON’T miss THAT.

What triggered the nostalgia was the other information in the folders we were tossing. We would find the name of an association, or perhaps a governmental entity, and try to find out the answer to our clients’ questions. Often, we could get them to fax – remember the fax? – to us information about the industry. They might even mail us material. My sense, in terms of the associations, is that they believed, not incorrectly, that if they gave us a little bit of information that we shared, they would get more members of their organizations. So throwing out those documents we wheedled out of these people made me just a tad melancholy.

Thanks to the Wood Pallet Association, which gave us info on those functional, but hardly noted, items. Always appreciated the information we got from the various ratite associations. Don’t know what a ratite is? Neither did I, until 1994, when we got a wave of questions about starting ostrich, emu, and rhea farms.

Guess what I miss is the human interaction of digging out the data by finding the right person at the right place with the right info. What I have noticed, particularly with the government, is that they put all the information on the website. Or they SAY the info’s there; often it’s not, or inaccessible, or incomprehensible even if I DO discover it. Now and then, I need to be on the phone, but most of that time is gone, and it’s just a little less joyful a little less fun.

Of course, a lot of those associations might be less willing these days to part with their information. I noted one group in particular, what used to be the Christian Booksellers Association and now goes by CBA. Early on, it was a great source of the types of Christian books and other accessories (crosses, e.g.) sold at specialty bookstores. At some point, though, their accountant must have told them they’d be better of monetizing the information they had been giving away. I don’t really fault them, but it was too bad.

The only thing I actually saved from the vertical file dumping is a chapter of Introduction to Reference Work (1992) by my reference library professor, the late William Katz. It was the chapter on The Reference Interview, essentially how does the librarian ask the questions of the patron to elicit the right direction for the information search. Over two decades later, it seems still relevant, about mutual respect, and realizing that “the original question put to [librarians] by a user is rarely the real question.”

You thought they knew everything about you?

“Short of wearing a burka, we may all one day become Tom Cruise at the mall, because marketers who track us as we shop online and send us ads, want to do that as we shop in the real world.”

Did you see 60 Minutes recently or read the story ‘Say goodbye to anonymity’?

Lesley Stahl, CBS News 60 Minutes: Facial recognition is already in some of our home appliances like TVs. In our mobile devices, PINs and passwords are giving way to faceprints. And the technology can single us out in real-time as we go about our daily business, often without us ever knowing.

Joseph Atick, one of the first scientists to develop facial recognition software: What’s unique about face recognition is the fact that you can do it surreptitiously, from a distance, and continually.

Alessandro Acquisti is a professor at Carnegie Mellon who does research on how technology impacts privacy. “He says that smartphones may make ‘facial searches’ as common as Google searches and he did an experiment to show how easy it could be… He ran pictures [of random students] through a facial recognition program he downloaded for free that sifted through Facebook profiles and other websites. And he was able not only to identify many of them instantly, he also got their personal data, including in some cases, their social security numbers.

“Short of wearing a burka, we may all one day become Tom Cruise at the mall, because marketers who track us as we shop online and send us ads, want to do that as we shop in the real world.” That reference was to the 2002 Cruise film Minority Report. I’m somewhat horrified by this.

I’m happy that with their relationship on the rocks, Chris (Lefty) and Kelly Brown found a marriage counselor in their Xbox, but I wonder how much of privacy is given up to prove that new Xbox experience that’s being launched.

I can’t quite explain why, but this future automotive device weirds me out.

And it’s primarily commercial entities doing this, from the info we give out ourselves. I suppose I should unplug everything on social media and hide in my cave. But I won’t (yet).

As Tom the Mayor wrote on Facebook: “You know, You can’t ‘friend’ an Amish person on Facebook!”

Shooting Parrots wants to give Google the finger because “corporate giants like Amazon, Starbucks and Google [and Apple!] who have taken to biting the hands that feed them by avoiding paying tax where their customers live,” while, I would add, using the info we give them to get ever richer. SP is using DuckDuckGo.com in lieu of Google; its motto on the page: “Search anonymously. Find instantly.” It may lessen the “Google experience,” but it is a reasonable tradeoff, I think.
***
Some kid’s in jail for something he wrote on Facebook.

T is for Cicely Tyson

Cicely Tyson starred in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, the story of a woman born in slavery who lived long enough to be part of the civil rights movement.

I had mixed, though mostly positive, feelings when I saw the 2011 movie, The Help. However, I was unabashedly thrilled to see Cicely Tyson as one of the older maids. I’ve been watching her for nearly 50 years.

The first time I knew her by name was in the 1963 television series East Side, West Side. It was, as I vaguely recall, a gritty and realistic show, which starred George C. Scott (Emmy nominated) as social worker Neil Brock, and Tyson as the secretary Jane Foster. The series lasted only 26 episodes, but my recollection was that it was great having a black person, a black woman, no less, in a significant role that was in a drama, and she WASN’T a maid, or a caricature. Before Greg Morris on Mission: Impossible or Nichelle Nichols on Star Trek, there was Cicely Tyson.

Subsequently, I saw her in episodic TV shows. Her next big role was in her Oscar-nominated role in the movie Sounder (1972). Then she played the title character in the 1974 television movie The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, the story of a woman born in slavery who lived long enough to be part of the civil rights movement. The film won nine Emmys, including two for Tyson.

Cicely was Emmy nominated for playing Kunta Kinte’s mother in Roots (1977), Coretta Scott King in King (1978) and the title educator in The Marva Collins Story (1982). She was nominated four additional times, winning for The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (1994).

She was married to jazz legend Miles Davis from 1981 until their divorce in 1988.

Cicely Tyson appeared on CBS Sunday Morning in April 2013. What I did not remember is that, before her acting career, she appeared as a model in Ebony magazine, though when I saw the images, they were oddly familiar to me. Her decision to model meant her mother didn’t speak to her for two years.

The new television piece was about her first acting on Broadway in 30 years, to appear in a stage version of The Trip to Bountiful, based on Horton Foote’s story. Her research included visiting Foote’s daughter and seeing the places that inspired the story.

She is actively involved in Cicely L. Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts in East Orange, New Jersey.

There is some argument about Cicely Tyson’s age. The IMDB suggests that she turns 80 in December 2013, while the story, and Wikipedia, suggested she may be as old as 88. Regardless, she has been a beacon as an actress who only took roles she thought enhanced the portrayal of her people.

ABC Wednesday – Round 12

Memorial Day, 2013: WWJD

There are no goodies for being right, no satisfaction in “I told you so.”

I’m in my church book study a few months back. We are reading Jesus for President, VERY slowly, for it has much to offer.

Much to my surprise, I get really ticked off, though not at anyone in the room. It was the re-realization that the war in Iraq, indeed many wars, are in stark contrast with Christian ideals. Yet Christianists seemed to have embraced war as some sort of Christo-American manifest destiny.

It surely didn’t help that this was around the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war when I was also reading about:
The lies that predicated the war.
22 veterans per day commit suicide, yet the vets are hamstrung by bureaucracy in getting the aid they need.
Not only did over 4000 American soldiers die in the conflict but over 3,400 contractors also did as well. This hardly ever got reported but was a clever way to diminish how bad the war really was. And that’s just on the US side.
A dying veteran writing on behalf of thousands in an open letter. Sample paragraph: “I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation, and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done.”

And for what? A decade of war that has devastated a nation.

My opposition to this war I have well-documented. I was one of literally millions who, for a moral and substantive reason, rejected the application of U.S. imperial power abroad.

Here’s the problem for me. There are no goodies for being right, no satisfaction in “I told you so.” Former U.N. Ambassador and Congressman Andrew Young was quoted as saying that the United States has “got to have better intelligence and better diplomacy because wars don’t work.”

As we remember our fallen soldiers today, may we be ever vigilant in our efforts to try to keep as many of our warriors alive as possible.
***
Interesting job video on the kids.gov site: Prosthetist, who makes artificial arms and legs for individuals who’ve lost their limbs. Nice couple-minute piece.