Saturday, January 23, 2010

5 Things a Corporation Can't Do

5 Things a Corporation Can't Do That a Human Being Can:
  • Produce a birth certificate
  • Enter into a same-sex marriage
  • Vote for elected officials
  • Fight to keep a mortgage and a roof over its family's head
  • Leave fingerprints or DNA at a crime scene
I'm referring, of course, to the Supreme Court's January 21st decision to allow companies the right to contribute to election campaigns, under the justification that doing otherwise would restrict their rights. In other words, conferring the rights of a human American individual upon a multi-million dollar corporation.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Points of Interest: Amsterdam, Belgium and Paris

During our recent trip to Europe, I collected a slew of business cards from different places (restaurants, cafes, galleries, shops) we dropped into. Faced with filing these things away somewhere where I'd likely never see them again, I thought I'd enter them all here for other folks benefit, who may travel to The Netherlands, Belgium or France, too. So, it's by no means comprehensive, but here are some places worth checking out in the following countries and cities:

Antwerp, Belgium
  • Hotel Postiljon - small, clean, comfortable rooms - and bathrooms with no doors on them! But exceptionally close to the Cathedral of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal) - right behind it, in fact
Brugge, Belgium
  • Gran Kaffee de Passage, Dweersstraat 26-28 - excellent eating: tasty ribs and beer at this convivial restaurant in the ground floor of a hostel, believe it or not.
  • Hotel Cavalier, Kuiperstraat 25 - better looking on the outside or in the quaint cafe, than inside one of the rooms. Ours had a bed, which slanted downward to the head. Nonetheless, terrifically handy to everything in old Brugge.
Paris, France
  • La Flèche d'Or, 102 bis rue de Bagnolet - we had to walk a few blocks from the metro to find this music venue in a renovated train station, but we caught a good show with a faux-Irish punk Celtic band. Or something like that.
  • La Frégate, 1, rue du Bac angle 35 quai Voltaire - a typical French bistro in a sense, but with a stunning view of the Seine and the Louvre. Also: it's on on the site of the home of Marshal D’Artagnan, who inspired Dumas to write The Three Musketeeers.
  • Hotel Champ du Mars, 7 rue du Champ de Mars - tiny rooms, but it was well kept and close to the Eiffel Tower and other great walks
  • Lili's Brownie, 35 Rue Du Dragon - American-style brownies in, um, Paris
  • Mandalas, Artisanat du Tibet - across from our hotel on Champ du Mars, lovely jewelry from Tibet, about a block away from the Rue Cler market street
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • De Aardige Pers, 2e Hugo de grootstraat 13 B - it's a bit of a haul to get to this Iranian restaurant, but really worth it
  • Quinta - Nieuwe Leliestraat 4, across from Anne Frank House - tasteful wine and liquor shop where the proprietor provided an informative and impassioned homily on absinthe
  • Reypenaer - nice, bright cheese shop with very helpful informative owners and employees
  • Temploe Doeloe, Utrechtsestraat 75 - delicious Indonesian food

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I just got word that my roommate from my freshman year in college survived the earthquake in Haiti. A few details, which the school has apparently being circulating, really bring home the impact.
Maxime Pierre-Pierre (’92 grad, former employee, working in Petionville, southeast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti)
Thanks for your prayers. We thank God for keeping our whole family safe as well as our house. Telephone contact is difficult now. I was teaching at STEP seminary when the earthquake hit. The building was seriously affected, and several students were pulled out of the rubble. Our church building was not affected. We have been sleeping outside since Tuesday. We have little access to food, water or fuel and no electricity. Keep praying for us.
If you're reading this, Maxime, I was so relieved to hear you survived, and I'll be keeping you in my thoughts.

Top 5 Groups Pat Robertson Has It in For Next

Presenting, the top 5 groups Pat Robertson has it in for next:
  1. Asexual ants - they dispensed with the male of species (Science News)
  2. Alaskans - the least religious of Americans (Pew Research)
  3. Teenagers - they bear all the signs of demon possession (New Scientist)
  4. Pilots - if man were meant to fly ... (CNN)
  5. Australians - topless sunbathers! (The Telegraph)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Order Out of Nothingness

My new article on Razorfish's Scatter/Gather blog, "Order Out of Nothingness: Tagging 101," discusses tagging mp3s in iTunes, as well as the principles for metadata we can derive from the sloppy tagging of them.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Marriage, The Constitution & Religion

Some folks argue that California's provision against gay marriage is a matter of state's rights. That California has a right to uphold its Constitution, as declared by its citizens. Those folks are wrong. When we have gay marriage in all 50 states - and we will - it'll be precisely because it is unConstitutional for states to “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” That and the Declaration of Independence proclaimed each person's right to the "pursuit of happiness." Individual states have no say in what amounts to a human rights matter - nor should they. See slavery, segregation, suffrage, etc. The U.S. Constitution supercedes California's. That may not be recognized now, but I believe it will be in the future.

Further, contrary to what many folks say, allowing for gay marriage is not encroaching on religious territory; it is not trampling on line between church and state (which oddly some of the same folks aren't usually particularly concerned with). In fact, if you read about the origins of marriage, they were not religious. Marriage simply acquired religious accoutrements over the ages. Marriages began as a civil and legal affair, not as a religious affair and it essentially involved the the acquisition of women as property. Hardly admirable. Marriage has continued to evolve, however, into a more enlightened arrangement and the addition of gay marriage to the tradition is only another step in the right direction.

Read about the history of marriage in Wikipedia, where it's currently described as "a social union or legal contract between individuals that creates kinship." No mention of religion in defining marriage there.

Or try Merriam Webster if you prefer: "the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law." Again, no mention of religion. Whatsoever.

See also, on the history of marriage.

Hero for the Day

My hero for the day is the conservative Republican lawyer, Ted Olsen, who is taking his "Conservative Case for Gay Marriage" to the California Supreme Court in an effort to reverse that state's unConstitutional Proposition 8. From his opening statement this morning:
The Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly described the right to marriage as “one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men;” a “basic civil right;” a component of the constitutional rights to liberty, privacy, association, and intimate choice; an expression of emotional support and public commitment; the exercise of spiritual unity; and a fulfillment of one’s self.
In short, in the words of the highest court in the land, marriage is “the most important relation in life,” and “of fundamental importance for all individuals.”
As the witnesses in this case will elaborate, marriage is central to life in America. It promotes mental, physical and emotional health and the economic strength and stability of those who enter into a marital union. It is the building block of family, neighborhood and community. The California Supreme Court has declared that the right to marry is of “central importance to an individual’s opportunity to live a happy, meaningful, and satisfying life as a full member of society.”
Proposition 8 ended the dream of marriage, the most important relation in life, for the plaintiffs and hundreds of thousands of Californians.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Favorite Albums of the 00s

A work in progress:
  • Boards of Canada - Geogaddi
  • Burial - Burial
  • Burial - Untrue
  • Eels - Blinking Lights & Other Revelations
  • Nick Cave - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus
  • The Cinematic Orchestra - Ma Fleur
  • Massive Attack - 100th Window
  • The National - Alligator
  • The National - Boxer
  • Radiohead - Kid A
  • Radiohead - In Rainbows
  • Wilco - Yankee Wilco Foxtrot