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June 2008

June 27, 2008

Goodbye Nick

There is a memorial in Albuquerque New Mexico this weekend for 19-year-old Middlebury College student Nicholas Garza. There will likely be over 500 people in attendance — former classmates, friends, family, community members. Nick was a popular, well-loved guy who is deeply missed.

I'll be there as well to video the service for the family. I made this montage for them, which will play at the end of the memorial:

I never met Nick. But after speaking to his family and friends and perusing their photo albums, a unique person emerges. Sharp, witty, colorful, wise beyond his years.

The world would have been a better place with you in it Nick. Rest in peace.

June 26, 2008

"The Battle for Facebook"

I haven't finished reading it yet, but Rolling Stone magazine has a fascinating story in its latest issue about the legal "blood feud" over who deserves credit for Facebook. The piece covers the history of the social-networking site, from its conception in a dorm room at Harvard to the enormous wealth it has brought the presumed creator, Matt Zuckerberg, who, according to Forbes is worth an estimated $1.5 billion.

But three of Zuckerberg's Harvard classmates say he stole the idea when they hired him to code a site they were building. The story paints Zuckerberg as a hyper-competitive star student who, when faced with other hyper-competitive stars at Harvard, turned to technology as an outlet for a growing bitterness.

One of the world's most popular networking tool was launched by a brilliant but ostracized nerd sitting alone in a dorm room. From his days at Phillips Exeter Academy, where he was known as the prep school's top programming impresario, Zuckerberg has drawn on a powerful combination of isolation and entitlement to surpass his peers. He is a Nietzschean superdork for the digital age — a college student who gamed the system, propelled by a primal understanding of how to program computers to serve human needs. Whatever the outcome of the legal wrangling, the battle over the origins of Facebook prompts a fundamental question: Is Mark Zuckerberg's social-networking empire, like so many other great fortunes in history, founded on a crime?

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Best Blog Daysies — Who Wants to Win?

120homevote Three years ago — has it been that long? — Seven Days started asking readers to vote for their favorite Vermont blogs as part of our annual Daysies readers' choice awards.

Last year, we split up the category to let people vote for Best Vermont Blog (political) and Best Vermont Blog (non-political).

Not surprisingly, there are many local bloggers who desperately want to win a Daysie, and will do whatever they can to encourage their readers, friends and fans to vote for them. I love reading these shameless plugs. Bill Simmon has an excellent summary of all the shilling.

It's kind of late in the game, since the polls close tomorrow, but I also want to recommend taking a look at Vermont Tiger, Vermont Scrapwood, Vermont's Burning, The Vermont Gardener and Clamzilla's Fabulous Adventures in the Dark.

I haven't updated it lately, but there are also a list of Vermont blogs linked the blurt blogroll — the Vermont Blog Directory. I know, it needs some love. It's on my to-do list.   

Click here to vote. The polls close tomorrow at 5 p.m.

June 25, 2008

BTAC to BT: Keep Al Jazeera

I haven't seen it in the news today, but, last night, the Burlington Telecommunications Advisory Committee and the Cable Advisory Council reached a joint decision on whether Burlington Telecom should pull Al Jazeera English from its program schedule, as the city-owned cable system threatened to do.

The verdict: Hell no, AJE must not go!

The committees passed a joint resolution, distributed to various media this morning by BTAC chair Greg Epler-Wood, recommending that BT "maintain its carriage" of AJE, which should please the many citizens who pleaded on behalf of the network at recent public hearings.

The three-page resolution was interesting for a couple of additional reasons. For one, the resolution notes that, despite assertions by BT general manager Chris Burns that AJE was the subject of numerous complaints, the committee never saw any "consistent or widespread agreement or evidence from respected sources to substantiate" those claims.

The resolution also said that the committees were unable to consider the contractual circumstances — also cited by Burns in defending his decision to pull AJE — because BT never provided the requested information to the committees.

The fallout from the battle over Al Jazeera bears watching. The decision comes at a time when BTAC, which sought to distance itself from Burns' decision from the very beginning, and BT aren't seeing eye-to-eye on the committee's advisory role.

For a rundown of all AJE-related the coverage, go here.

Burlington Taxi Rants

Taxiteaser This week, Seven Days staffer Mike Ives wrote about the strange and shadowy world of Burlington's taxi system.

It's a story idea that's been kicking around our office for a while now. If you've ever taken a cab around here, or tried to figure out how the hell they come up with their fares, you can probably understand why.

Many of us have wondered why it costs so much money to go from one part of the city to another — or why it seems to cost a different amount depending on which cab you call.

Hopefully Mike's story answers some questions — and raises others.

As we were reading it over yesterday, we realized that this was the perfect opportunity to ask people to share their own experiences. So we set up this nifty webform to collect your stories. We've already received some responses. We'll be printing some of them in next week's Seven Days.

The photo credit for the cool taxi pic above goes to Jordan Silverman.

Things Not to Say at the Office

Dontsayit I thought this was a joke, but it appears to have been posted sincerely for educational purposes. Here's some information I found recently at the business magazine Diversity Inc., in a series of articles on what not to say in the office.

Don't ask your American Indian co-workers to "hold down the fort."
Don't speak loud or slowly to people in wheelchairs.
When a co-worker comes out as LGBT don't say "I thought you were gay".
Never ask your African American co-workers "do you eat a lot of Fried Chicken?"
Don't tell your white co-workers "you've got all the money."
Don't ask your Latino co-workers "hola! habla ingles?"
Don't say to your Asian co-workers "you must be the IT guy."

In one context this could be the rough draft for a sitcom, in another it could be some seriously hurtful shit. 

As a hetero white guy in Vermont I don't feel like there's a lot more that I can say without sounding sensitive and new-agey or insensitive and out of touch. So I'll just leave it at that.

Things Not To Say

June 24, 2008

VT Says No to Telecom Immunity

There's been plenty of chatter on the Internets about the Democrats caving and giving Pres. George W. Bush all he wants (and more) to secretly spy on us, and grant giant telecom companies immunity from prosecution for violating our civil rights by caving to government pressure to spy on us.

While it won't protect our phones being wiretapped now or in the future, Vermont's delegation is against the compromise bill. Rep. Peter Welch voted against the House measure last week saying, "I have consistently opposed any legislation that grants retroactive immunity for telecommunication companies that cooperated with the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping."

Now, the measure is in the U.S. Senate and I just learned from Sen. Patrick Leahy's spokesman, David Carle, that Leahy isn't happy with the compromise either.

Carle said Leahy, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will join Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) in offering a key amendment "to strike the provisions in the bill that give retroactive immunity" to the telecom companies. "If the Dodd-Feingold-Leahy Amendment doesn’t pass he will vote against the final bill," said Carle.

Here's Leahy's statement last week on the measure.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent, has been a critic of retroactive immunity and is also an expected "no" vote against the compromise measure in the Senate.

Burlington City Council Sonnet #2

The coffers of Burlington were on display
at last night's lengthy city council meeting,
so every councilor who chose to enter the fray
was visibly concerned with budget-sheeting.
The loudest warning call emerged from Shannon,
who worries that our streets are under duress.
Our pavement's cracked, she said, or poorly managed,
yet infrastructure hasn't been fully "addressed."

Or what, said Shannon, of our pretty parks —
We shouldn't let them languish in the breeze!
(The windows of City Hall by then were dark.)
Take care to not miss forests for the trees,
Ol' Leopold, the C.A.O., did note;
"I wish that we had more," he sighed, "but we don't."

Bye, George...

Carlin In 2004, I had the honor and pleasure of interviewing George Carlin for Seven Days prior to his visit to Burlington. I've been a lifelong fan of his work, and have distinct memories of listening to his album "Class Clown" back in the 1970s.

I'm always reminded of him when I'm at the airport and some flight attendant suggests that it's time to "get on the plane."  As Carlin once remarked, "Fuck you! I'm getting IN the plane. Let Evel Knievel get ON the plane."

In the last 24 hours, a lot of ink has been shed praising Carlin for his influence on comedy, culture and the English language (much of which he would undoubtedly ridicule), so I won't bore you with mine. Suffice it to say that, for someone who had a deep and abiding contempt for the human race as a species, he was one helluva nice guy, and I'll miss him. Thanks for making me piss my pants, George!

Oooh, Cheap Sex

Cheap sex in Iceland, who knew? Leoncie is being called Iceland's answer to Madonna. Not. She creates and performs her own unusual and amusing music videos. Check out this one about cheap sex with a cheating Sex Crazy Cop.

Embedding is disabled for this video so I couldn't put it directly in the post. Use the link above to view it at YouTube.

Stuck in VT (VIDEOS)

Solid State (Music)

Mistress Maeve (Sex)

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