Speak Loudly and Watch For That Big Stick

So I get off my bus to find a ton of cops standing in formation in McPhereson Square and a protest going on at Vermont/15th and K Streets…

So I get off my bus to find a ton of cops standing in formation in McPhereson Square and a protest going on at Vermont/15th and K Streets (I think it was the “Put The Squeeze On Capitalist Greed March” that started in Franklin Square at 14th and I streets around 7:30am). I went into the CVS and bought a couple of disposable cameras. By the time I got back outside, the police had moved in (a broken window at the CitiBank where the protesters stood was probably the reason).

I started taking pictures as the police broke up the protest. Someone set off a smoke bomb or a stink bomb of some sor (I eventually heard it was tear gas). The group of journalists and onlookers that crowded the police started to back away. Someone said something about pepper spray. Either way, the police quickly worked to break up whatever protest was going on.

People were backed up across the street into McPhereson Square while the police cleared out the protesters. They were put in plastic cuffs and then led onto two Metro busses and then taken somewhere.

A crowd stuck around to watch, protesters mixed in with journalists and bystanders. Now, here’s something I don’t get. The protesters off to the side, still protesting, holding their signs, hiding their faces, playing “Fight The Power” on their tape deck, if you’re so adamant about your cause and what you’re trying to push here, why aren’t you with those other guys getting arrested? Where were you when the cops came in? Running? Hiding? Or did you just arrive? I got more respect for the folks who are willing to stand their ground and get arrested than for the people who run away or come in afterwards to continue their protest. If you’re not willing to go down for what you believe in, how much do you believe in it?

Oh well. PICTURES!!!

There are 15 pictures, please give them time to load…
(NOTE: The following pictures are the property of Jason Kenney and their use without permission is prohibited. If you want to use one of these pictures for anything, just ask, I’ll probably say yes.)


As I approached

Another view

A closer look

Something’s happening

Tear gas!!!!

Everyone cleared out

The police kinda dug the extra room

So they started pushing everyone back

A few more quick shots

Nothing over there

The crowd I’d be joining shortly

One last close look

Everyone, on the bus!

The bus leaves, full of protesters

The police keep everyone back (probably my best shot)

People looking on

The corner’s now empty

And the police line up to go bust some more heads

These pictures were taken with two disposable CVS Photostar Flash Cameras with 400 speed film and developed by Ritz Camera One Hour Photo.

Fear and Loathing of Death

Is it wrong to be only 23 and have a very strong and distinct fear of death? I mean, this isn’t recent for me, I’ve been afraid of death for years now. It’s not like I obsesses on it, but it’s always there, lingering in the back of my mind, really scaring the shit out of me.

And I think that fear is what led to my crisis of faith with the Catholic Church, really.

I mean, one of the fundamentals of the faith is that there’s something after. Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, there’s something. And not just that there is something but that we should look forward to it. You die, you see Saint Peter at them big ol’ pearly gates, and he pulls out The Book, rubs his chin, nods a few times, maybe arcs and eyebrow or two, and then says “GO TO HEAVEN!” or the opposite or something like that.

But what if that’s not the way it works?

What if there’s nothing?

Dark, black, nothing, the total absense of everything, no sight, no sound, no feelings, nothing.

THAT scares the crap outta me.

I mean, I always picture it, but that’s not accurate, that’s me SEEING nothing and CONTEMPLATING nothing, and if all there was was nothing, that wouldn’t be right. I wouldn’t see or contemplate anything, I’d simply cease.

So what happens to me, to all of this in my head, these thoughts, these memories, these emotions, the love and the hurt, the feelings of everything, what happens to it all? Nothing?

Really, at it’s source, it’s all chemical reactions, nerve impulses.

My eyes focus on someone, my mind computes that, “hey, that’s someone! Somone = good,” so it releases some chemicals that make me giddy and also sends little impulses to nerves and then muscles that make me smile and think I’m in love.

And, not to belittle that emotion, but it’s chemicals and impulses, it’s all like a machine, a computer.

So, like a computer, can it just be turned off and cease to run? The stuff in the computer stays there, all of the bits of data, they don’t go anywhere, they just stop. Is that death?

All of this is pretty big stuff for a fourteen year old to contemplate while walking his paper route one summer afternoon.

It used to keep me up at nights, the thought of nothing. It’s not like sleeping, the brain’s still working. It’s not like closing your eyes because you’re seeing the darkness behind that and contemplating it. It’s not like anything we can simulate here because in order to observe it, your mind has to be working.

And would it matter at all, considering you’re not even going to notice?

I think it’s the ceasing to be that frightens me the most. It’s gone, all of it. Nothing left but a shell.

AAAAHHHH!!!

Now I’m thinking about it.

And I have no idea what brought this on. Now, in the first place, at all. I can’t recall any sort of situation where I’ve almost died. I was just walking and thinking. I think too damn much.

Death sucks. And that’s an understatement. I want to believe that there’s something after, that there is a nice cloud waiting for me or even a firey pit or, hey, while I’d be shocked, if I die and there’s Zeus shaking his head going “you should have known better” or if I come back as a rock, it’s something more than nothing (though, that rock thing would suck, if you ask me). It’s the thought of nothing that worries me.

Heh, I’m worrying about nothing.

Anyways, that makes me afraid because I don’t know. And maybe it all leads back to the lack of control in the situation because I don’t know, and therefore I flip out because on a personal level I’m a control freak. But the thought of nothing makes me wonder, the Catholic in me goes, “wow, what a complicated thing this brain is, someone really big and powerful and all knowing must have designed this thing because it really can’t be by accident,” but the scientist says, “but what if it was by accident and all it all goes away in the end?”

What if there is no soul?

Death.

Ugh.

Links for 5/28/2002

Blogosphere: the emerging Media Ecosystem

How Weblogs and Journalists work together to Report, Filter and Break the News

Trying to understand the complex relationship between bloggers and journalists has become my own personal Waterloo.

I’ve taken a few stabs at it already, and learned a lot along the way. Lesson One: Blogs can do a tremendous job breaking news, and journalists are wise to start their own to tap that power. Lesson Two: Some rare bloggers become amateur journalists, a status which brings with it its own unique ethical challenges. Lesson Three: Most bloggers are more like Columnists than capital-J Journalists.

Web logging can serve many roles

Corporate Web logging — an emerging way for companies to get the word out about products and services — is getting quite a bit of notice from the online community. Does it really work? What are its potential uses — and abuses?

Web logs are regularly (even daily) updated Web pages offering a blend of commentary and links. They can be personality-based, news-oriented or topic-specific, but they share the qualities of immediacy, iconoclasm and a highly active feedback loop.

As a grass-roots vehicle, blogs (as they’re nicknamed) have largely been the domain of individuals, not businesses. There are an estimated 500,000 blogs on the Web (nobody really knows the exact number), most of which are broadsides of sorts for their authors.

Weary, Bush mocks reporter

“I wonder why it is you think there are such strong sentiments in Europe against you and against this administration?” the reporter said. “Why, particularly, there’s a view that you and your administration are trying to impose America’s will on the rest of the world, particularly when it comes to the Middle East and where the war on terrorism goes next?”

Turning to Mr. Chirac, he added in French: “And, Mr. President, would you maybe comment on that?”

“Very good,” Mr. Bush said sardonically. “The guy memorizes four words, and he plays like he’s intercontinental.”

“I can go on,” Mr. Gregory offered.

“I’m impressed — que bueno,” said Mr. Bush, using the Spanish phrase for “how wonderful.” He deadpanned: “Now I’m literate in two languages.”

Bugs may control weather: Study

British scientists have launched a study to find out if airborne bugs in clouds control the Earth’s weather.

Scientists believe certain bug species may have evolved the ability to manipulate the weather in order to secure their own survival.

Vanilla Coke Review

Image via Chowhound

So I picked up my first bottle of Vanilla Coke today and I’m still not sure what to make of it. Is it good? Kinda. The closest I can come to describing it is it’s like drinking the left over Coke of a Coke Float. Or, really, its more like the foam from a Coke Float, just a hint of Vanilla that grows the more you drink it and eventually can get overpowering. At first it’s a slight Vanilla, but the more you drink, the stronger it gets, almost to the point of too sweet. I’m not sure I can finish my bottle here.

I can see kids digging it, all 28 grams of sugar per serving (which a 20 oz bottle has 2.5 of) but I’m not sure adult taste buds can take it.

Would I recommend buying it? Sure, why not, give it a try, but I probably won’t get more than this one bottle myself, it’s just not my bag.

Links for 5/13/2002

Will the Blogs Kill Old Media?

One blog avatar has formally wagered that by 2007, more readers will get their news from blogs than from The New York Times

A year ago, Glenn Reynolds hardly qualified as plankton on the punditry food chain. The 41-year-old law professor at the University of Tennessee would pen the occasional op-ed for the L.A. Times, but his name was unfamiliar to even the most fanatical news junkie. All that began to change on Aug. 5 of last year, when Reynolds acquired the software to create a ?Weblog,? or ?blog.? A blog is an easily updated Web site that works as an online daybook, consisting of links to interesting items on the Web, spur-of-the-moment observations and real-time reports on whatever captures the blogger?s attention. Reynolds?s original goal was to post witty observations on news events, but after September 11, he began providing links to fascinating articles and accounts of the crisis, and soon his site, called InstaPundit, drew thousands of readers?and kept growing. He now gets more than 70,000 page views a day (he figures this means 23,000 real people). Working at his two-year-old $400 computer, he posts dozens of items and links a day, and answers hundreds of e-mails. PR flacks call him to cadge coverage. And he?s living a pundit?s dream by being frequently cited?not just by fellow bloggers, but by media bigfeet. He?s blogged his way into the game.

Ahhh…. Irresponsible media hype. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say mainstream media’s attempting to create a hostile environment towards blogging. And for no reason. Think about it, blogs are nice and all and a good way to find opinions, but that’s about it. They’re opinions. Think of them as massive op-ed pages. Some of them, like Instapundit and what not, will post a few different opinions and link to news that supports those and their opinions. But it’s still opinion, heavily slanted, and in no way a replacement for the regular media.

And I think most people realize this. And, anyone that doesn’t and takes what these people say as facts, well, they’re already doing that elsewhere, mainstream media has already lost them.

Blogs will not “kill” old media, but they will effect it. I think you’ll see more and more journalists and columnists getting online and blogging. Maybe some breaking news will take on a more blogging feel where the correspondant in the field can quickly update and let the world know what’s going on in real time without the need for streaming video or audio. But “kill”? Radio was supposed to “kill” old media. Television was supposed to “kill” old media. The Internet’s been “killing” old media for almost 10 years now. But they haven’t succeeded in this, they’ve been assimilated and utilized.

Old media doesn’t die, it evolves.

Blogs take Web diaries to the next level

Ever frog blog — or contemplate blogging your dog? Or how about blogging over that 1967 mustang? Blogs are journalism’s latest craze. The odd little word is short for “Web logs.” They first appeared around 1998, and are starting to take off among people searching for information online. You can find a blog on just about any topic imaginable, and this week, Bruce Burkhardt speaks to a self-proclaimed blogger. Josh Quittner, editor of Business 2.0, tells Bruce Burkhardt why he thinks blogs are journalism for the future.

Got Blog?

Instant online journals are a hot trend

Web logs, or blogs, are one of the hottest trends on the Internet, allowing people to instantly post their thoughts or links to whatever catches their fancy.

New technologies are giving more people a way to quickly set up their online soapboxes. Instead of needing extensive programming knowledge, computer users now can choose from several Internet-based services to open a site and keep their journal.

Blogs are arranged chronologically, like a diary, with short messages, pictures, links or essays.

Absolut Director

Dr. Seuss Went to War A Catalog of Political Cartoons by Dr. Seuss

Blog Blogging

Blog Blogging

At Large in the Blogosphere

Jorge Luis Borges dreamed of a library the size of a universe, whose wealth of books would induce first delirium, then despair, then breakdown of the social order. Since we first became aware of the Web, we have ricocheted between similar feelings over a universe far more disruptive: one of unbounded, uncensorable streams of text. The current craze is for something called a blog. The name is the diminutive of ”Weblog,” an online news commentary written, usually, by an ordinary citizen, thick with links to articles and other blogs and studded with non sequiturs and ripostes in sometimes hard-to-parse squabbles.

Here’s what blogs are not: (1) the super-personalized news filters that social critics fretted would splinter the nation into a million tiny interest groups, or (2) the Drudge Report. Blogs don’t limit your news intake, break stories or promulgate rumor, at least not intentionally. They have an only seemingly more innocent agenda. Blogs express opinion. They’re one-person pundit shows, replete with the stridency and looniness usually edited off TV.

A blog’s bark has bite

One vote here in favor of the blogging revolution. Bloggers (from the words “Web log”) write online diaries and commentaries. The best bloggers weigh in on social and political issues, report nuggets of information that the national media miss or suppress, and provide links to other bloggers with something sharp to say. Subjects that the mainstream press is skittish about (e.g., the link between abortion and breast cancer, or the mini race riot that occurred in Cincinnati three weeks ago) tend to show up in the blogging world. Since nobody can be fired or intimidated, bloggers skip politically correct language and just write in plain English.

A minor example of the culture in action: The blogging corps got wind of an online poll sponsored by the Council on American Islamic Relations allegedly showing that 94 percent of those surveyed thought Ariel Sharon should be tried for war crimes. By linking to one another’s Web sites, the bloggers got more people to cast votes and reversed the numbers. At the end, 94 percent opposed the idea of trying Sharon.

The first commandment of blogdom is that anyone can become a pundit. Nobody is in charge. Bloggers can say anything they want and get their message out with blinding speed. This is unsettling to us lumbering print guys. Six or seven times I had to abandon a column because some upstart blogger beat me to it. Andrew Sullivan, perhaps the most quoted blogger, is surely the fastest gun. His 1,000-word analysis of the State of the Union message appeared 33 minutes after President Bush finished. Sometimes he launches attacks on wayward New York Times columnists around 4 a.m., so blog fans can read his version before they get to the columns.

The Weblog Tool Roundup

I’ve been running a personal website for about six years now. You should see the ladies’ faces light up when I casually drop that little nugget at a kegger or outside the dressing rooms at Old Navy. Their voices get husky, they twist their frosted curls around suggestive fingers, jot their numbers on my bare chest just in case I need someone to do some “freelance QA work,” you know how it is.

Lately, however, I’ve run into some credibility problems. Adoring fans have started to delve into my backend, as it were, asking about my database server, flavors of Unix, PHP, MySQL, and I have to either feign pulmonary edema and excuse myself or admit that all I do these days is type something into a form and press a button. My site then automagically updates itself and archives the previous entry. “You mean you built your own content-management system?” she’ll say. “That is so hot.” And then I’ll sort of mutter: “Well, I use a tool, this Web-based thing that sort of handles all that stuff for me.”

It’s at this point that a look of growing horror emerges on the young debutante’s face, and she’ll say: “Oh dear God in heaven. You’re a weblogger, aren’t you?” And I’ll call out, “No, no, more of a personal online diarist!” but she’s already gone, chatting up some hunk with the telltale swollen knuckles of a Java programmer.

Blogspace Under the Microscope

The culture of blogspace is evolving in near-realtime. Last week, a new mutation brought backlinks into a more prominent role. At Disenchanted, inbound links were automatically reflected outward. Each article grew a tail of backlinks that pointed to pages referring back to it. Suddenly a new kind of feedback loop was created. With a twist of the lens, conversations that had been diffuse and indirect came sharply into focus. Almost immediately the meme replicated.

Variants appeared at DECAFBAD and diveintomark. It’s hard to avoid the sense that there’s some biological force at work here. When blogspace told me to follow that hunch, I listened.

From Harper’s Index for March 2002

Amount the United States spent in 1949 on international aid and diplomacy : $66,400,000,000

Amount the United States plans to spend on this in 2002 : $23,800,000,000

Total voting population of a Denton, Texas, tax district when a development plan was approved there in 1996 : 1

Weeks before the vote that the resident was moved there by Dell Computer so that he could approve the plan : 5

Number of years a sheep can remember another sheep’s face : 2

More from Harper’s

Links for 3/19/2002

Targeted Serendipity Weblogs aren’t just glorified pages of links and rambling personal sites; they are an antidote to mass media. According to the author of “The Weblog Handbook,” Rebecca Blood, they are also bringing creative expression to everyday people when they need it most.

And have I linked to Microcontent News yet? I’m gonna add a perma-link too.

At Airport Gate, a Cyborg Unplugged Steve Mann, an engineering professor at the University of Toronto, has lived as a cyborg for more than 20 years, wearing a web of wires, computers and electronic sensors that are designed to augment his memory, enhance his vision and keep tabs on his vital signs. Although his wearable computer system sometimes elicited stares, he never encountered any problems going through the security gates at airports.

The Incredible Rubberband Machine Gun! It’s the only fully automatic machine gun that’s legal in all 50 states! This beauty is a fully functional machine gun with TWELVE rotating barrels and a live action trigger. Loads 12 bands per barrel for a whopping 144 rubber bands that shoot off as fast as you can turn the handle! Great fun for kids of all ages. MORE than just an amazing machine, this is a true work of art.