Stone of Remembrance

January 23, 2010

Geeks Without Borders

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 10:38

Our friend Thom is a software guy. (My wife is too. I’m a recovering software guy – first a programmer, then a tech writer. That gives me some facility in communication with them. This is about the time she will thwack me. But I digress.) He’s also a family man, a man of faith, and civic-minded: he, like many of us, was struck by the tremendous humanitarian crisis currently in progress in Haiti. That’s why he’ll be at the Crisis Camp in Boston today.

When disasters strike like the one that is currently beating down Haiti, I often catch wind of comments from civic-minded techies about how the tremendous power of technology should be used to help address it. Naturally, however, when I hear something like, “we’re getting together to write code this Saturday so we can help relieve the disaster,” my first thought is: no, they need stuff like food and shelter and medicine, not iPhone apps to play Scrabble or something.

This is, of course, a sarcastic reply to an earnest feeling about the subject. My first thought was – what can technology do in these situations? And then, how many people own a computer and have a net connection, even if there was something to be done?

But this is 2010, not 1990. There’s even a significant difference between 2010 and, say, 2005, when Katrina hit New Orleans. The answer to the technology question is, a lot; to the computer question, a lot – because that computer looks like a cell phone.

What’s different? Twitter is different. Facebook is different. Text messaging. Blogging. The problem isn’t that technology can’t help: it clearly can, since, for example, people trapped in a collapsed building now have the possibility of connection to the outside world – the whole world, in fact. The problem is sifting the data, helping the signal-to-noise ratio, putting the right resources in the right place. What’s more, this crisis, and the involvement of these geeks without borders in the relief of it, might offer a level of accountability that has been absent in many preceding ones.

Haiti is a broken country. Some might characterize it thus for almost all of its two centuries of existence. Right now, there are a large number of very intelligent folks with world-spanning technology at their disposal paying very close attention to what’s happening, what’s needed, and where resources and money are going. Are people in Haiti going to try and take advantage of this crisis to line their pockets? To think otherwise is to be incredibly naive. But it might be harder for them to avoid getting caught in the act.

There’s an ongoing Twitter feed. (Disclaimer: I don’t use twitter, so I hope this is correct.) There are a bunch of projects listed at the Crisis Commons website. Thom’s either helping direct, or directing, the Camp today (01/23/2010).

Americans, despite being held in low esteem elsewhere in the world, are still the most generous and big-hearted people anywhere. This is another example of it. I’m impressed with the idea of this effort. I wish Thom, and the rest of them, well.

January 20, 2010

& So Forth.

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 19:47

Irene Gallo posted a reference to this on Facebook, and it was too cool to pass up.

From the sidebar:

The Ampersand: A scribal abbreviation for and. Derived from the Latin word “et.”

I like the ampersand. I think it is often the most attractive character of them all. This blog is an attempt to give this humble ligature the respect it deserves.

There’s some amazing stuff there, showing the peculiar and humorous obsession of its author.

January 17, 2010

A Bloody Deed.

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 22:44

My buddy who goes by the name A Fool Who Should Know Better passed this on to me.

This is worth 20 minutes of your time. Watch it. You’ll never look at Richard III the same way again. Note that the video is now at Vimeo, not Youtube.

UPDATE Jan 2010: Michael performed this at Arisia this year live. It was fabulous.

Iron Sky

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 01:01

How’d you like to see a movie that doesn’t exist yet? Take a look at Iron Sky.

From the web site:

Towards the end of World War II the staff of SS officer Hans Kammler made a significant breakthrough in anti-gravity.

From a secret base built in the Antarctic, the first Nazi spaceships were launched in late ‘45 to found the military base Schwarze Sonne (Black Sun) on the dark side of the Moon. This base was to build a powerful invasion fleet and return to take over the Earth once the time was right.

Now it’s 2018, the Nazi invasion is on its way and the world is goose-stepping towards its doom.

It’s a “science fiction comedy”. I wonder if it would be a cool movie if it were actually serious – but the chance of seeing it devolve into something campy and derivative is probably too great.

The trailer, shown above, was played during the Masquerade at Arisia this year.


January 2, 2010


Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 13:43

This is apparently a common phrase among middle-schoolers my daughter’s age, though I’ve recently discovered that it’s in the popular vernacular.

Consider, if you will, the Fail Blog.


See, now, that’s funny.

Thanks to Spike for pointing me at this.

January 1, 2010

NASFIC 2010 in Raleigh

Filed under: Travel, Walter\'s Schedule, Writing — admin @ 09:43
August 6, 2010toAugust 9, 2010

We’ll be in attendance at NASFiC in Raleigh, North Carolina, August 6-10, 2010.

September 15, 2009

Talk at 12th Lodge of Instruction

Filed under: Walter\'s Schedule — admin @ 17:00
January 25, 2010

I will be speaking at the 12th Lodge of Instruction in Lowell, Massachusetts, about A Song In Stone on the evening of January 25, 2010.

Arisia 2010

Filed under: Travel, Walter\'s Schedule, Writing — admin @ 06:26
January 16, 2010 15:00toJanuary 18, 2010 15:00

I will be a professional guest at Arisia January 15-18, 2010, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Cambridge, MA. Gardner Dozois will be the editor/author GOH.

Talk at Needham Public Library

Filed under: Walter\'s Schedule — admin @ 05:03
January 10, 2010

I’ve been invited to speak at Needham Public Library in January 2010. More information as I get it.

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