on Basketball

Among the Egyptian students, the American students, the Japanese and African students, the bright students and the wild students, Carmelo Anthony stood out as the most visible student on the tiny campus of Oak Hill Academy, tucked away in microscopic Mouth of Wilson, Virginia.Now on the worldwide stage, he stands out in the news media, on NBA basketball courts, and in the Olympic Games. I don’t remember the first time I met him.I might even venture to say I never actually met him, merely shared space with him, sitting in the same classrooms, chapels, library, gym, and cafeteria that he did during our senior year in high school.For a brief time, in a rural town plumb in the middle of Appalachia, our very different lives intersected.Yet, and such is true of all successful athletes, there remained a barrier between him and the rest of us.As his career has propelled him …

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Dialogue

“Good morning, this is Brian calling from K2 Software. I am responding to a recent inquiry you placed on our website about our enterprise management software.” “Huh? I’m sorry, can you hold on… one sec…. thanks.” I sit on hold and listen to elevator music for seven minutes. “Hello, EasyCare Lawn Services. This is Trisha, how can I help you?” “Hi Trisha, I was just on hold. This is Brian calling from K2 Software. If you have a minute, I wanted to talk to you about enterprise management software for your business.” “Oh, sorry, we don’t need that anymore.” The line goes dead. One call down, 140 more to go. This is the life of a telemarketer. Its my second day on the job. I hear the same script come mumbling out of the cube next to me, just as unsuccessfully. My phone rings: “Good morning, this is Brian.” “Hi, …

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Waking Up in a Specific Setting

Still partially sleeping, I stumble through the unfamiliar room until I find the bathroom, where I slap my hands flat on the counter and evaluate myself in the mirror. I’m trying to grow a beard. My eyes are rose red and my hair smells like smoke. There is a bidet to my left, which I contemptuously ignore. My travel pouch is stuffed with miniature versions of the shampoo, soap and razor I use every day. I step into a shower separated from the rest of the bathroom only by a curtain. The water is warm enough. My watch is beeping at me, 7:00 A.M. My body doesn’t agree, because it feels so much more like midnight. The events of the past few days flicker through my mind; fragmented images of European cities wrapped in neon blur, acts that I won’t be ashamed of until later. I have only slept a …

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Body Part

Hidden under three layers of skin, buried under hair, sweat, and sunburn, tiny bubbles of black ink stain the inside of my left forearm. Five letters and one symbol, each an inch squared, spell out the word “Wisdom.” I sat in a chair like the kind you do at the dentist’s office while a rough, goateed man repeatedly plunged a sharp needle into my arm, transmitting the black liquid to a place in my body where it will stay, forever. Five years and three more regrettable tattoos later, the dark word has faded slightly, but still shows easily enough that I try and hide it in the company of strangers and children. Whatever high-minded thoughts I harbored when I commissioned this enterprise I have forgotten, lost, abandoned, and revoked. “What does that say?” I used to have no problem answering when some curious person would try and lift my arm …

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The Washington Warriors

Washington Warriors.Has a nice ring, don’t it? This isn’t a new baseball or hockey team. I’m talking about football.I’m talking about what we used to call the Washington Redskins. It’s the fourth quarter, and the time has come to punt the old name away. Just to clarify, before I’m charged with treason: I am a fan of the Washington Redskins football organization. I was draped in Redskins regalia before I was a year old.I was young enough to care about winning and losing in those monumental seasons of the late eighties and early nineties. I think the name is offensive, but that’s not really why I want it gone. I just want Dan Snyder to make more money. Various ethical organizations around the country, including those of Native Americans, have called for the renaming of the team before without any success. I think they are taking the wrong approach, although …

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A Familiar Object

So much depends on the faded green American Dollar. In all denominations, like dry leaves or a shady swimming pool, the bills are a pale static green. This government issued document, appointed to settle all public and private accounts, permeates all corners of life. Houses, shoes, dinners and vacations are all testaments to its value. Its power is unarguable. You can only have the things you have in exchange for this green sheet of paper, adorned with the face of a man you have never met. As time passes, these faces on the Dollar are growing. Simultaneously, everything else is in America growing: traffic, technology, immigration. The dollar has to keep up – it is currency, after all. I do wonder sometimes, would red be a more suitable color? Right now its cousin, the Euro, wears a spectrum of hues (and genders). The Dollar’s nieces and nephews, credit and debit …

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Online Academics

MIT OpenCourseware and the copyright hungry professor from Florida – if I were the authority on the model to follow in the future, I’d have to go with MIT.  The Florida case does raise some questions, though.  I think the UF case is primarily an ethics matter regarding the business that is re-selling student notes.  The professor probably doesn’t over value his lectures, but does have a problem with the company that is making a profit on helping people “cheat.”  The intellectual property matter is just the pretext for taking a shot at this questionable business. I’m curious whether this professor is paying for this lawsuit himself – or if his University is supporting him.  I would be suprised if U. of Florida is helping him out with legal fees.  It seems like UF would try to keep as much distance as possible – unless they see the case as a way to make more money, which …

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WriteRoom

Rob Pegoraro had a column in the Washington Post today about a word processor called WriteRoom, which behaves like an old DOS-based program with no editing functions whatsoever.  Apparentley, there are a number writers out there who find modern software distracting, leading them to this spare typrewriter-like tool.  It even looks old – green text on black.  I can relate to the frustration with MS Word and other applications, but unless WriteRoom cuts off your internet connection, distractions are still out there.  Writers shouldn’t blame their software for making them lazy, or distracted, if they are taking what they write seriously. 

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Kurt Vonnegut – Player Piano

I just finished the first novel I have read by K. Vonnegut. The story revolves around Paul Proteus, a high ranking engineer in the city of Ilium. Paul suffers from a feeling that his work doesn’t actually benefit society. Ilium exists inside of a society where machines virtually replaced men in most occupations, leaving engineers as the only citizens enjoying a wealthy and respected lifestyle. The story is entertaining, and at times believable. Many people can sympathize with the feeling that your life’s work is trivial or even destructive. Vonnegut draws on this disenchantment with industry in the post-war landscape, taking engineers and machinery on as a target for criticism. This novel was written as the development of computers were just beginning to take place, and Vonnegut explores the possibilities technology changing the future. Like a player piano, the engineers of Ilium imagine most machines can get along just fine …

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Remixing rights, sight and sound

For the remix assignment, my idea is to grab a song from the Internet Archive’s live music pool, look for CC licensed images on flickr tagged with the title of whatever song I grab, and then mash the results up in a neat video.  I think this will be a cool way to experience the song, as well as see what people think the song “looks like”.   Kind of unrelated, yet maybe relevant:  A while back, I made a song using FLStudio and then cut up some video that I shot in Paris, and came up with this.  My idea for the remix project is kind of based on this abstract-music-video structure.  I posted the video on YouTube, and until now have never bothered to read their terms for user submissions.  I apparentley granted YouTube:  “a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, …

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