Orthogonal


A big thank you to the local chapter of the League of Women Voters for an excellent forum this evening. Vicki Boyer, who occasionally posts on OrangePolitics kept the show moving along with a variety of audience questions.

Unlike the Sierra Club forum, the environmental and social justice issues surrounding our neighbors out on Rogers Road (of which I have spoken about numerous times) got a fairly decent airing. The $8 million Downtown Development boondoggle merited one round.

The forum’s format, a round of answers with some opportunity for give-and-take, suited tonight’s questions. I hope the public and the local media take some time to mull over our responses.

There were a few surprises from the non-incumbents: Kevin Wolff bringing up voter-owned elections, Penny Rich suggesting punishing Downtown landlords who wouldn’t fill their storefronts, Matt Czajkowski’s excellent point that Chapel Hill has become introverted.

Of course, the incumbents tried to take credit for all the successes over the last four years while trying to dodge any responsibility or account for any of the mistakes.

Some of the successes – hiring an economic development officer, developing a strategic economic development plan, the Town’s new fiber network – were issues I brought forward first.

As far as surprises from the incumbents, I appreciated Mayor Foy’s complementary observation that I have an eye for efficiency.

Jim Ward’s bit of criticism (Incumbency Is Not Enough or Nineteen Seconds Is Too Long) about the 19 seconds I went over my time on one response provided some humor.

And Cam Hill, one of the negotiators on Lot #5, quoting a citizen outlay about $1 million short of the actual figure (CHN). I’ve been up since 6am and can understand a fumble -
hope fatigue explains his sloppy accounting.

The League graciously allowed me to assist them in posting tonight’s video on the web.

I’m preparing for upload now and expect the full video to be available by tomorrow evening (I’ll post a new article when it’s done).

Oh, and the Sierra Club has since declined my offer to post their forum on the Internet. They plan to do it themselves. I’ll keep an eye on their progress and will announce its availability.

Kurt Vonnegut, the satirical novelist who captured the absurdity of war and questioned the advances of science in darkly humorous works such as “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “Cat’s Cradle,” died Wednesday.

CNN Apr. 12th, 2007

A little off track for Citizen Will but I consumed more than my generation’s share of Vonnegut at quite an early age.

“Welcome to the Monkey House”, “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater”, “Cat’s Cradle”, “Slaughterhouse Five”, “Breakfast of Champions” (!!! for this 10 year-old reader), Kilgore Trout and so much more demonstrated a perverse and subversive twist, at least to someone raised on a steady diet of Asimov, Clarke, Bradbury, Pohl, Le Guin, Silverberg, McCaffrey, Lovecraft, Burroughs (the John Carter of Mars one), Kornbluth, Zelazny, Simak, L’Engle, Norton, Heinlein, Sturgeon, Herbert, Clement, etc. on my beloved sci-fi genre.

Like the twisted worlds of Philip K. Dick, Vonnegut’s works exposed me to the 60′s counter-revolution from a non-authoritative, outside the mainstream media, perspective.

I still vividly recall the Mar. 13th, 1972 PBS showing of Prometheus 5, a truly bizarre, disturbing and, at points, scary pastiche of Vonnegut’s earlier works. Particularly upsetting were the worlds of “Harrison Bergeron” and “Welcome to the Monkey House”.

The world of “Harrison Bergeron” features a shotgun-toting Handicapper General enforcing the law of the lowest common denominator – a false equality regulated by equipping all citizens with artificial “handicaps”.

In the over-populated world of “Welcome to the Monkey House”, the chemically sexually numbed citizenry is encouraged to visit their local Federal Ethical Suicide Parlors and “ethically” remove their small burden on the teetering ecology. Provocative, and in some ways, visionary.

Hard to believe PBS ever showed such strongly dystopian material.

With Vonnegut’s passing, we also lose one of the few remaining iconoclastic American writers who served in World War II. Vonnegut, as a close observer of the Dresden fire bombing, knew the literal heat of war. The Vietnam mess sharpened his dystopian outlook. I wonder if our current mess in Iraq will sharpen the dystopian pens of writers yet to come?

To my extended family: Dad the morning of Mar. 27th, 2007.

Comparison in life, I guess, is inevitable.

Hey, even if there’s a tiny bit of vanity bragging about Chapel Hill – “look how smart I am to live in the Southern slice of Heaven” – I probably indulge in it as much as anyone else. Folks brag about how progressive, sensitive to civil liberties, environmentally conscious our Town is in spite of examples to the contrary.

For instance, not too long ago Council member Kleinschmidt suggested Wilson and Rocky Mount were not quite up to Chapel Hill standards yet those communities underwrite more than a hundred hands-on arts programs and have built facilities to support the arts in general. On the other hand, progressive Chapel Hill’s one hands-on arts program teeters on the brink of extinction.

Civil liberties? Chapel Hill leads the way much of the time with the occasional incredible lapse.

Environmentally conscious? Many times with, again, some unfortunate glaring exceptions.

Besides noting Council’s leadership faux pas, Jim Ward recently pointed that even the simplest of energy saving efforts – using efficient light fixtures at Town Hall – never get very far.

Raleigh, though, is making a bold commitment to reduce energy and save some bucks in the process

Last week, the City of Raleigh announced a plan to possibly use light emitting diodes (LED’s) to light city streets throughout Raleigh.

Although more expensive initially, compared with regular lights, LED’s last much longer and use much less electricity. According to city, some LED’s may last as much as 20 times longer than regular incandescent lights.

At a city hall news conference on Friday, Mayor Meeker and the CEO of Triangle-based LED maker Cree, Inc. announced a partnership to perform a cost-benefit analysis to possibly replace as many city lights as possible with LED’s.

The city says that the mayor hopes that the “LED City” initiative will serve as a model for other cities that are considering implementing energy-efficient measures.

“The City of Raleigh is willing to set the pace and invite other municipalities to join in developing energy-efficient civic centers,” Cree CEO Swoboda said. “This leading edge effort is undoubtedly an important driver in LED adoption within the United States.”

Raleigh Chronicle, February 19, 2007

I own shares in Cree. That said, they have a great product that, at least I think, will shake up the world one day.

Raleigh Mayor Meeker said that it is “sound fiscal and environmental stewardship” to investigate the application of LED’s “as broadly as possible.”

The analysis on how LED’s can be used will be performed over the next 18 months, says the city.

In his comments, Mayor Meeker said that there may be “substantial potential savings from converting the City’s more than 33,000 streetlights to LEDs.”

According to the city, Raleigh spends more than $4.2 million annually for electricity to power the streetlights and estimates that 30 percent of its energy costs are for lighting.

According to the city, Raleigh electric provider Progress Energy says the floor equipped with LED lights will use over 40 percent less energy than the standard lighting system and will actually provide better lighting.

Raleigh Chronicle, February 19, 2007

Fixing Chapel Hill’s policy of using inefficient, poorly sited, streetlight fixtures kick started my life as a local concerned citizen. Six years ago, and occasionally since, I’ve asked Council to revise our current lighting policies, direct Duke Power to install more efficient fixtures and adopt the standards developed by light pollution experts for the International Dark-Sky Association.

Better, longer lasting lighting that operates much more efficiently at a cheaper cost when amortized over its extended lifetime.

Seems like an easy decision to me. We should take Raleigh’s invitation to participate.

I’ve been interested in the World War II Japanese Internment travesty since I learned of it as a near tot. Living in Chapel Hill I’ve had the chance to know some interesting folks, Eric Muller for one.

Eric, self-publisher and UNC Law professor is an internment expert. He often posts his research on that, the Holocaust and other WWII related issues over on isThatLegal.org. Fascinating, if at times disturbing, reading.

Today he’s talking Dec. 7th, 1941 and the trail of bread crumbs leading up to the foreseen attack on Pearl Harbor and the collateral damage it caused the Japanese-American community.

Got this interesting article today from Consumer’s Union:

…analysis of fresh, whole broilers bought nationwide revealed that 83 percent harbored campylobacter or salmonella, the leading bacterial causes of foodborne disease.

That’s a stunning increase from 2003, when we reported finding that 49 percent tested positive for one or both pathogens. Leading chicken producers have stabilized the incidence of salmonella, but spiral-shaped campylobacter has wriggled onto more chickens than ever. And although the U.S. Department of Agriculture tests chickens for salmonella against a federal standard, it has not set a standard for campylobacter.

Our results show there should be. More than ever, it’s up to consumers to make sure they protect themselves by cooking chicken to at least 165° F and guarding against ­cross-contamination.

Chicken is my dominant source of protein (had a great Elmo’s chicken hoagie, in fact, this evening). I like BBQ, hamburgers, steak but really can’t replace my chicken intake with comparable amounts of beef. And then there’s Mad Cow (which I’m sure a few folks are already convinced I have…).

At home I’m not worried. We buy local, and, in any case, Ellie will nail those bugs.

What about my regular restaurant rotation? Fear Mediterranean Deli’s chicken souvlaki or Bad-a-Wings great boneless chicken wings?

Quick update for the special adventurers I left behind. Botolph’s Stone’s weather was beautiful this evening – 51 and clear. Had a nice walk, mostly after dark as we worked through ’til almost 6pm. Here’s some slideshow highlights:




Mr. E, be sure to click here [Google Earth] to see where I walked.


October is Energy Month

October is Energy Month


Five After Six

Five After Six

HiFi World

HiFi World



No Right Turn

No Right Turn

Ghostwalk

Ghostwalk

I really enjoyed Greensboro’s first ‘blog-con ConvergeSouth, an “unconference” that attracted quite a few interesting and/or notorious folks. Good conversation (no surprise as Anton “Mr. Sugar” points out that ‘bloggers are usually good conversationalist), good food and a chance to learn by interaction.

Tomorrow’s promises to be even better.

Elizabeth Edwards will keynote on “Building On-line Communities”. I imagine she’ll be talking about her just released book Saving Graces and her experiences ‘blogging on One America Committee‘s ‘blog.

Beyond that, there’s an interesting list of other “known” guests.

I plan to get some feedback from the news-oriented folk on how to break the perma-link mess our local ‘blog community has with the HeraldSun and News Observer.

I submitted a panel proposal for Austin’s South-by-Southwest Interactive (SxSWi) 2007 titled Inciting Self-Organizing Mobs for Local Progressive Activism

Educated and opinionated, netizens are a fractious bunch. Rarely does on-line irritation translate into “real-world” local activism. With the proliferation of no-cost, net-based infrastructure and the power of the “long tail”, why do so few arm themselves on-line to battle off-line? Or even run for office? Join us in discussing how to rouse your local mob, tap their collective wisdom and promote progressive change.

SxSW is a combined music, film and new media technology (‘blog, vlog, podcast, social networks, etc.) conference spread over nearly two weeks. Local ‘bloggers Ruby, Kirk, ae, Fred, Henry went last year and, I believe, there was total agreement that it was fantastic.

SxSWi organizers have setup a system to let the public at large vote (10 at a time) which panels they’d like to see. I’ll be headed down South next March in any case – working on a panel, though, would be gravy.

Here’s the link if you want to help select the 140+ featured panels.

Voting ends ominously Friday, October 13th.

By the way, Fred has a proposal titled The Long Tail of Identity:

As we embrace social technology, the consequences of sharing our identities on the web are unknown. How will our social network profiles or weblogs affect our future possibilities? Does a search engine or archive really have the final say about who we are online? In the panel, we’ll discuss practical and theoretical approaches to online identity management, how our identity is perceived, and what innovations are serving our yet-to-be-defined identity needs.

Yes, I’ve been gone (thanks for the emails).

I’ve got a backlog of issues, posts, news, updates – enough to keep me going for a couple weeks. I’ll be trying to catch-up as I juggle new developments on:

Oh, where did my family and I go?















I’m stuck in a video culture. The immediacy of the message, the ability to project nuance, is quite alluring. Today’s low-cost of creation and dissemination has helped unleash citizen’s voices which otherwise would never be heard.

Yesterday, I featured Keith Olbermann’s Sept. 11th impassioned defense of dissent.

It was a strong, direct, thoughtful yet emotional argument from someone perched on the pinnacle of an old-style media distribution empire (in this case MSNBC).

Today, another thoughtful rumination on Sept. 11th from the incredible ZeFrank, exemplar of the new-style media empire. One guy, one camera – scripting, singing and shooting his simple nuanced message – casting it onto the vast ‘net wasteland to be picked up and celebrated on its merit alone.

(more…)

Sure, I’m nearly 225 years behind the times cursing David Fanning’s troop’s drunken pillage of nearby Hillsborough, North Carolina but it is the thought that counts…

In the early morning hours of September 12, 1781, Loyalist David Fanning led 600 Tory militiamen on a daring raid of Hillsborough where Governor Thomas Burke had taken refuge. Taken by surprise, the Hillsborough District militia and handful of Continentals offered little resistance. Fanning’s men quickly captured the Governor, 71 Continentals, and a large number of Whig militia while also freeing 30 loyalist prisoners held in the jail. After their success — in which they suffered only one wounded — the victorious militia began to plunder the town, and after finding liquor, a number of them celebrated by becoming increasingly drunk.

Some interesting fun in-store this weekend as our brave Continentals are surprised (at 11am Saturday, 2pm Sunday Sept. 9th & 10th) by the Loyalist militia.

Schedule & Maps

Events running all weekend, so check it out.

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