posted by Mike on January 20th, 2006

Telegram & Gazette, RMS, Adbusters, and other, often irrelevant, items.

The T&G and the local web: The Worcester Telegram & Gazette mentioned that yesterday’s License Commission hearing had aroused lots of interest:

Folks who enjoy the nightside ambience have been sending e-mail to each other, trying to mount a lobbying effort to convince board members that the traditional 2 a.m. closing is essential to the vitality of the area’s restaurants, clubs and bars.

“We are all thinking about music, the arts, and retail operations leaving the malls to come back to street level spaces, long since abandoned,” e-mailed one Shrewsbury Street patron. “We envision a city that stays alive long after the sun goes down, with a rebirth in locally owned and operated businesses that are lucrative.”

Well, people are not only e-mailing each other, they’re having vigorous discussion on public websites! In fact, the unattributed e-mail quote is right from Buck’s eloquent plea at Volcanoboy.

Why the heck doesn’t the article mention that this discussion is on local websites? This kind of omission drives me crazy. It seems like a no-brainer: Truly interested readers would appreciate the tip. You could even cite the sites—other major media do this all the time.

I worry that no websites are mentioned because the web is not on their radar. If so, that would be a bad sign for the future relevance of our newspaper.

Jason Feifer: Of course it’s not like I’m in touch with the local blogosphere either, having only just learned via Volcanoboy that T&G reporter Jason Feifer has a blog, and that it’s a good one. JF was responsible for the front page article “Athol Town Hall stages teen headbangers’ metal ball: Those who came to rock hard and heavy salute music series,” my favorite piece in the paper since Taryn Plumb’s first-person account of being a panhandler.

The Cardinal of Scotland is going to Darfur without a flak jacket.

The Catholic Workers who tried to get into Guantanamo will be holding related events on Ash Wednesday. [The article says they are all based out of NYC, which is not true.]

Pope John Paul’s apartment was a dump.

Shopping cart on Mason CourtShopping carts: The morning after Worcester City Council gave initial approval to the City Manager’s war on abandoned shopping carts, what showed up on Mason Court?

RMS: I’ve been exposed to the ideas of Free Software for the past 15 years, but nobody ever connected the dots for me as forcefully as Richard M. Stallman did in a talk (example) at WPI last week. Uncompromising. At the end, I wanted us all to stand and give him the “black power” salute, like the kids at the end of Billy Jack. This speech motivated me to spend MLK Day installing Ubuntu GNU/Linux, which I’m using as I type this. Free at last.

Map of upcoming construction on Mason StreetThe kick-off for the new project on Mason and Winfield Streets will be February 14 at 10am.

More Chomsky: From an interview last month:

Geov Parrish: …Are we being set up for a permanent state of war?

Noam Chomsky: I don’t think so. Nobody really wants war. What you want is victory.

GP: What gives you hope?

NC: What gives me hope actually is public opinion. Public opinion in the United States is very well studied, we know a lot about it. It’s rarely reported, but we know about it. And it turns out that, you know, I’m pretty much in the mainstream of public opinion on most issues. I’m not on some, not on gun control or creationism or something like that, but on most crucial issues, the ones we’ve been talking about, I find myself pretty much at the critical end, but within the spectrum of public opinion. I think that’s a very hopeful sign. I think the United States ought to be an organizer’s paradise.

Adbusters #63: “The Big Ideas of 2006.”

I don’t subscribe to Adbusters anymore; it tends to be too dour for me. But I always pick up their yearly “Big Ideas” issue. It’s an invaluable collection of short essays from lots of thinkers on lots of issues that will matter in the year ahead.

The first article that grabbed my attention was “Drink Fresh Snow.” A couple parts jumped out at me right away as being classic Adbusters.

First, the author writes: “Research suggests that 99 percent of Americans spend less than one day in a lifetime in conscious sensory contact with nature.” Now I’m way on one end of the bell curve here, having spent about 10% of my life backpacking or otherwise roughing it. But I can’t believe that 99% of Americans spend so little time outdoors. The average non-urban kid probably spends hours a week outside, a good bit of this in “conscious sensory contact with nature.” This is just the sort of iffy statistic you’d expect from Adbusters.

The other thing in this article that made me wince was this passage:

Get a relationship going with a tree. Make tea from wild nettles. Watch a pile of leaves when the winter wind hits it. Drink fresh snow.

Nothing in this article hints at the basic truth that nature is harsh. If you are in sensory contact with nature, you’re not watching the winter wind hit a pile of leaves, because the main thing you notice is the winter wind hitting you. And for me, drinking fresh snow doesn’t paint a romantic picture, but a desperate one. If you’re reduced to drinking snow, you’re probably kinda dehydrated already, and are slowly melting the snow on a stove, not wanting to waste extra calories by melting the snow in your stomach. Drinking fresh snow, in my experience, is a pain in the ass.

But like I said, this is a great issue. Another article covers the “Top 3 Identities of 2006.” The first is Paristocrat, AKA Celebutante. The other two hit close to home, so here they are in full:

Bible-Thumpin’ Lefty
AKA Christian Dove

You’ve heard of the separation of Church and State–here comes the separation of Church and Hate. Whether it’s Anarcho-Protestants, Pinko Catholics, or good old-fashioned Evangelical Socialists, the Christian Left shares one goal in common: to rescue Baby Jesus from the claws of the neocons and His other assorted ultraconservative hijackers. Sickened that Christianity has come to stand for pre-emptive war, the death penalty, and social Darwinism, Bible-thumpin’ Lefties point to Christ’s messages of tolerance, charity, pacifism, justice, racial equality and, perhaps most shocking of all, the fair distribution of wealth. Everything old is new again.

Urban Monk
AKA Secular Ascetic

Not to be confused with the hedonistic urban hippy, urban monks thrive on the underrated pleasures of self-denial. Taking a cue from the Stoics, Puritans, Sadhus, Spartans and Jains, this eminently sustainable though largely secular creature excels at saying no: no to the accumulation of wealth, no to conveniences, no to cars, no to television, no to meat. Possibly owns a laptop, but harbors deep-seated guilt about that fact. Thrills at issuing personal challenges like 100-mile, raw, vegan, calorie-restricted diets. Some adherents even dabble in the mortification of the flesh, renouncing hot water and room temperatures above 15°C. They do, however, draw the line at sewing thorns into their underwear.

The perfect job: Paul Watson rams whaling ships, flies a pirate flag, and has a cannon that shoots pie filling.

PETA gave Pat Buchanan an award for “Strongest Backbone” of 2005.

I’m still catching up on what was happening while I was in the woods. Looks like the Original Sins had a reunion performance on WFMU Dec 13. I vividly recall their farewell show in Philadelphia. If live music in Philly had shut down at midnight, the show would have ended just as JT was stripping naked, before the band had really warmed up.

Published in: Items | on January 20th, 2006 | Permanent Link to “Items” | 1 Comment »

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  1. On January 20, 2006 at 18:19 Adam (Southern California) said:

    Oh man, Mike, those describe you to a T.

    Good point about the statistic. I know plenty of people spend a lot of time divorced from nature, but that stat is loony.

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