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Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

Category: Society (Page 2 of 69)

By the time I get to Arizona . . .

As an Arizona- born native?  I think Gov. Jan Brewer and these law enforcement clowns should be ashamed of themselves.  You’d hope that they’d want to do something useful with their lives.  But, no. The guy in this video?  Helps illustrate what a bunch of halfwit clowns they are:

YouTube Preview Image

Virginia Fails at Basic Human Decency. Again.

As you’ve certainly heard by now, Bigot Extraordinare Rep. Bob Marshall and the clown show that is the Virginia GOP continued Virginia’s grand tradition of hatefulness when:

[T]he judicial nomination of Mr. Thorne-Begland, a former Navy fighter pilot who is gay, was sabotaged by an ugly campaign of homophobic bigotry led by Virginia Republicans. In a vote at 1 a.m. Tuesday, the GOP-dominated House of Delegates, with an avowed homophobe leading the charge, killed his candidacy, thereby ensuring that Virginia state courts remain free of openly gay judges.

The usual attempts to obfuscate and cast doubt upon the reasons behind the vote have quickly made their appearances, of course.  While Virginia’s got a well established tradition of narrow-mindedness and willingness to use the power of the state to discriminate, one thing it simply cannot stand is actually labeling these actions for what they are.  Waldo Jaquith does a great job of sorting out the vote here.

Transparency Camp 2012

Just finished a weekend at Transparency Camp 2012.  As with lots of these types of conferences (PrivacyCamp and Freedom2Connect come to mind), I approach these as something of an outsider – I’m tech-curious, but by no means experienced.  In the end, I’m just a lawyer, and my expertise in methods often feels a world away from from the folks focused on APIs, datasets, and the latest visualisation tools.  They say API, and I’m all APA!  One of the big to-dos I came away with was to come to next year’s event prepared for a “I am not your lawyer, BUT . . . ” session.

Still, I felt it an incredibly worthwhile expenditure of my time.  I feel like we’re hitting the hook on the hockey stick graph, with progress shooting up as we get more people that “get it” in government* and as we simply get more quality work out of those working with the datasets.   CivicCommons.org?  Sweet.  OpenPlans?  Yes, please.  MapBox?  Wow.

One of the biggest things?  I was blown away by the amount of personal time and effort put into making tools for better government.  All sectors benefit, to some extent, from the personal contributions of people involved with them.  But there were people who had flown from the other side of the planet, on their own dime, to participate in a conference so they could invest yet *more* personal time in something that would ultimately benefit more people than would ever be able to thank them.  I’m not sure that’s sustainable, but damn is it encouraging.

Finally, I want to give some shouts to some local gov’t folks that showed up to this.  Montgomery County’s Hans Reimer led a great session on day one.  Alexandria’s Craig Fifer not only killed it with chicken, but did a great job in presenting on the myths and truths of pushing for transparency in local government.  There were also some DC .gov folks there, but I sadly didn’t get too much of a chance to interact with them.  And really, I regret not roping any Arlington County folks into this, but you can be sure I won’t make that same mistake twice.

 

*I don’t have enough experience that I could honestly defend challenges to this premise that went more than a few rounds, but . . . man, the gov’t folks I see attending this conference now?  Exponentially more with it than the folks I encountered in my municipal broadband days (’03-05).

#tcamp12

Space Shuttle Discovery in DC

Space Shuttle Discovery Flies Over DC

Took the morning off to shoot the DC fly-by of the Space Shuttle Discovery on its way to Dulles.  I’d originally planned to head to DUlles, but changed my mind at the last minute, deciding that the Air Force Memorial would be the perfect spot.  Here’s a slideshow of the results.

Shot it with a 70-200 f/4, which gave me some nice pictures like the above.  Still, if I’d really wanted to manage some better context to the photos, I should have gone with something wider right under the Air Force Memorial, and perhaps rented a 400 prime to get it as it passed the Washington Monument & Capitol.  In the end, my favorite shot of the day from others?  Is a silly little Instagram photo.

Arlington Central Library Expands Its Collection

Hey, look what else you can check out of the local library, now:

Listen to This. On Your iPhone, If You Like

Sometime soon, set aside an hour and listen to an incredibly powerful edition of This American Life, looking at the origins of an iPhone (or really, any one of the shiny things that play a regular role in your life).

Paul and Farrakhan

Ta-Nehisi Coates draws a very apt comparison between what Ron Paul and Louis Farrakhan have offered their youthful supporters.

As surely as Ron Paul speaks to a real issue–the state’s broad use of violence and surveillance–which the America’s political leadership has failed to address, Farrakhan spoke to something real, something unsullied, which black America’s political leadership failed to address, Both Paul and Farrakhan, in their glamour, inspired the young, the disaffected, the disillusioned.

I’d never drawn this parallel in my own mind until reading this piece.  But when I think back to the early/mid 90s and my friends who were drawn into the orbit of the NOI, or who traveled to the Million Man March – they weren’t there for Farrakhan’s crank theories and anti-Semitism any more than most of Paul’s younger supporters are there for his effective support of homophobia and racism.

But as sure as the followers of Farrakhan deserved more than UFOs, anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories, those of us who oppose the drug-war, who oppose the Patriot Act deserve better than Ron Paul[.]

Quite.

Endless

Arlington National Cemetery, December 2011

Opinions and the Fixation Thereof

It turns out that Kansas Gov. Brownback is kind of sensitive about what people think of him:

But Brownback’s office, which monitors social media for postings containing the governor’s name, saw [a 14 year old] Sullivan’s post [that imagined her telling the Governor that he, essentially, “sucked”]  and contacted the Youth in Government program.

Sullivan received a scolding at school and was ordered to send Brownback an apology letter. She said Prinicipal Karl R. Krawitz even suggested talking points for the letter she was supposed to turn in Monday.

Mostly, I think it’s kinda funny.  Seriously, the random twittering of a 14 year old girl is worth your reaction?  Kinda makes Sam sound like an insecure 14 year old girl himself, doesn’t it?  If that threatens you, you must be terribly insecure in your own position, no?

In any event, I wonder how this sort of thing will play out over time.  Some places, like Thailand, can’t abide criticism of some people at all.  And as ridiculous as that approach seems to many of us, right now, you wonder if that’s going to be the practical approach, in the future.  And remember, Americans, you’ve already been told – by a president’s press secretary – to watch what you say.

 

Excellent Use of Access

Bravo, sir, bravo.

 

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