Tuesday, February 26, 2008

So, What Will The Revolution Be?

Smoke Bomb Igniting
Originally uploaded by e20ci
In the last blog entry we established that the revolution will not be televised. But what, according to the web, WILL the revolution be? Glad you asked.

The revolution will be posted.
The revolution will be folksonomied.
The revolution will be photographed.
The revolution will be digitized
The revolution will be motorized.
The revolution will be accessorized.
The revolution will be mapped.
The revolution will be You-tubed.
The revolution will be wireless.
The revolution will be modernized.
The revolution will be visualized.
The revolution will be wikified.
The revolution will be socialized.
The revolution will be solarized.
The revolution will be dugg.
The revolution will be fictionalized.
The revolution will be advertised.
The revolution will be animated.
The revolution will be illuminated.
The revolution will be e-mailed.
The revolution will be cataloged.

So now you know.

I should add, I saw Gil Scott-Heron perform once, probably around 1990, right here in Bellingham. He was stunning. And boy, if he wasn't a great musician he could have just done stand up comedy.

I understand he's had trouble with drugs in the last decade. (He might say he's had trouble with police, but either way the result is bad news).

Monday, February 18, 2008

What The Revolution Will Not Be

Smashed TV
Originally uploaded by Grant Neufeld
Do you remember a wonderful song from the 1970s called “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised?” Gil Scott-Heron is a jazz musician and is sometimes called the father of Rap because of that amazing rant. You can read the lyrics here or hear it at Rhapsody.

Yesterday I saw a new book entitled The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America's Underground Food Movements

A great title. It reminded me that the comic strip Wondermark (which combines 19th century graphic art with 21st century humor) offers a T-shirt for sale that proclaims “The Revolution Will Not Be Telegraphed!”

That got me thinking. So I went to what New Scientist magazine refers to as a Famous Web-based Search Engine and got a comprehensive list of what the revolution will not be. These are my favorites, loosely categorized. (Yes, I know. The revolution will not be loosely categorized.)

The revolution will not be downloaded
The revolution will not be uploaded
The revolution will not be blogged
The revolution will not be webcast
The revolution will not be podcast
The revolution will not be digitized
The revolution will not be engineered
The revolution will not be shrink-wrapped
The revolution will not be recycled
The revolution will not be merchandised
The revolution will not be effectively distributed
The revolution will not be designed
The revolution will not be advertised
The revolution will not be outsourced
The revolution will not be funded
The revolution will not be sexualized
The revolution will not be feminized
The revolution will not be fertilized
The revolution will not be fraternized
The revolution will not be plagiarized
The revolution will not be curated
The revolution will not be copyrighted
The revolution will not be metered
The revolution will not be mapped
The revolution will not be satirized
The revolution will not be motorized
The revolution will not be motorcycled
The revolution will not be piloted
The revolution will not be lego-sized
The revolution will not be verified
The revolution will not be shushed

We will let Mr. Scott-Heron have the final word:

The revolution will be no re-run, brothers.
The revolution will be live.

Monday, February 11, 2008


US Constitution Article 1
Originally uploaded by Kelly Nigro
I just finished a fascinating novel by, of all people, William Safire. He wrote Scandalmonger during the second Clinton administration, when the newspapers were having a great time with scandal, but he was thinking of a period 200 years before.

If you thought there was a Good Old Days when people behaved themselves and journalists didn’t concern themselves with personal naughtiness by politicians, Safire will disillusion you. His main characters are William Cobbett and James Callendar. Cobbett was an Englishman who, starting under the administration of George Washington, started writing viciously about the Jeffersonian clique of Anti-Federalists, alias the Republicans. Eventually libel charges chased Cobbett back to England where his journalism got him prosecuted by both major parties there, and caused William Hazlitt to nickname him the “fourth estate.” (Yes, that where that term comes from.)

Callendar, on the other hand, was a Scotsman, who monged (?) scandals on behalf of the Republicans, until they took office. Then, disappointed in their behavior (or the lack of spoils that went his way), he turned coat and went after them. He was the first to write that Jefferson was the father of the children of his slave, Sally Hemings.

This is a novel with many pages of endnotes, explaining which parts are fictional and which are based on truth. (Most of the dialog from presidents is taken from their works, which may explain why Jefferson sounds so artificial. I suppose Washington does too, but I suspect he really did sound like that.)

This is a really enjoyable history lesson, and one line made me laugh out loud. A bit of explanation. Safire sees James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution as a political naïf, while he views James Monroe as a more experienced and pragmatic wheeler-dealer. Inevitably there is a scene in which Madison defends the Freedom of the Press.

“Still, the people must be informed,” Madison put in. Monroe rolled his eyes; the man must have been reading his own amendments.

A Historic Moment

old man with cane (2005)
Originally uploaded by jamesobutler
On Saturday, at an otherwise ordinary shop in Seattle, the clerk asked me if I was entitled to take the senior discount.

I told her I was not and thanked her politely for asking.

Then I burned down the store.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Stopped, Thieves

Rare books
Originally uploaded by bmb
If you read only one federal court appellate decision this month (yeah, I know, you forgot your new year resolution to read two a week, didn't you?) make it this one.

It tells the fascinating story of four college students who came up with the caper of a lifetime - to steal a truckload of rare books from the Special Collections Room at Transylvania University in Kentucky. Alternatingly hilarious and frightening (fortunately the brave librarian they attacked -- and the equally heroic one who confronted them -- were not badly hurt) the story has a happy ending. The main point for the appeals court to decide was: Can the books they dropped OUTSIDE the Special Collections Room but INSIDE the Library be considered stolen when calculating the value of stolen items (and therefore, the length of their sentences)? The judges say: Yep.