Without entirely realizing the theme or the local connections, Tucker and I watched two great father-son movies with Chapel Hill connections on this rainy Sunday.
Danny Wallace‘s Big Fish as interpreted by Tim Burton is dazzling and funny. The father here is a teller of tales which are nearly true and to everyone but his son better than the truth. they are mythic and aspire to more than the father has actually achieved which drives his son now a reporter in france up the wall. the son tries to get at the truth — the wrong truth it turns out — until the last moments of his father’s life when he must create the final mythic tale for his father. then the funeral comes and we see that there are pieces of fact among the stories. just pieces but enough to give the myths meanings and to make them more than just fantasy.
October Sky, an anagram as it turns out for Rocket Boys the title of the memoir by Homer Hickham, has an appearance by Chapel Hill’s Mark J. Miller as the alcoholic stepfather of one of the boys. The tension in the story of Hickham and his friends is between Hickham’s father who is secure only in his work in the coal mines and is threatened by his son’s going interest and success in rocketry. The father has his reasons: people are dying in the mines, the local mine isn’t producing up to the expected levels, the United Mine Workers are calling for a strike, there are layoffs called for, and the town, a company owned town, might close down with the mine. Still the son must follow his dream of creating rockets with his friends and of reaching beyond the small coaltown to some other larger world — to be as it were a big fish.
Technology to the rescue! Teen age drinking is a problem in Chapel Hill and elsewhere. Anti-drinking crusader Dale Pratt-Wilson is on the case and is featured as Tar Heel of the Week in the News and Observer (note: I was TotW back nearly 10 years ago. My being there had nothing to do with drinking.). Pratt-Wilson was a strong proponent of keg registration laws which if put in place would create stronger controls on kegs than on firearms. DPW makes sense on at least one point since more teens die in drinking related accidents than from gun shots. But as opponents point out, teens are not buying or drinking most of the beer. Immediate civil liberty questions come to mind. There was even a move to put RFIDs on kegs.
Leave it to the folks at Make Magazine. These technologists have gone several steps better with the kegbot kegerator. The Kegbot keeps up with all kinds of information including temperature, amount of beer remaining, etc but more importantly Kegbot keeps up with who is drinking how much using an iButton key. It can cut off heavy drinkers. And it does create an amusing way of measuring beer usage.
Our friend Sylvia Garrard is not only a painter but also a singer. She just made a demo CD of four jazz pieces with pianist Chris Reynolds. In honor of that, we met at the Southpoint mall restaurant where Chris was scheduled to play with a guitarist as a duo. Things were a little confused. Our friend Jane couldn’t make it at the last minute. Chris has split with the guitarist and so had also split the dates. This week turned out to be the guitarist’s week at Maggiano’s. We listened a while then walked out and heard some funky jazz down the street. Playing in the 100 degree heat were the Usual Suspects, a local to Durham band that featured the wonderful Beverly Botsford on percussion. The jazz was hot and so was the air and anything that had been in the sun even a few minutes. We ducked in for a bite and caught the closing numbers after sunsite when the temperature had dropped to only 93 degrees! Good funky jazz and the band was paying some serious dues.
Just got a call from WCHL (1360 AM) asking me about a supposedly unique webcast scheduled to come from the University of Pittsburgh in September. The pitch here is that the producers of the event say that the webcast lecture will be have the largest audience of any academic lecture in history. Sounds like high-hopes promotion and wishful thinking. The talk is the Cutler lecture on public health for 2005, “The Public Health Consequences of Disasters: Challenges for Public Health Action” by Eric Noji.
I’m dropping my Gameboy and tuning right in!
Seriously, why is this news? We’ve been doing webcasts for years and years. SunSITE did a live webcast of Bill Clinton’s visit to Chapel Hill for the 200th anniversary of the founding of UNC back in October 1993. Live webcasts without interaction are most interesting if they are of a historic event like today’s space shuttle launch or the Victoria’s Secret annual show. Just check out Technorati for recent listings of webcasts, not to mention Google; there are no shortage of webcasts of every variety.
If the talk were to allow some kind of intense and interesting and innovative interactivity, then we’d have a story. “We’ll have a million people listening to an academic talk on bioterrorism” is an amusing claim. A stunt really. And without added value to the lecture or its contents.
Having finished Harry Potter number 6, I’m ready to make some guesses as to what will happen in the next book. Not exactly what, but at least two questions that must be answered.
1) Who is RAB? I agree with wikipedia posters that RAB must be Regulus Black. I had guessed that when I decided to check wikipedia — and damn if there wasn’t a well argued conjecture there that agreed.
2) Where is the final horcrux of The Dark Lord? In Harry Potter of course. Harry and Voldemort cannot kill each other — and they have tried. Not sure how it got there but I suspect via RAB in some way. Also what does this have to do with all this “power of love” talk by Dumbledore?
3) Speaking of Dumbledore, is he really dead? Possibly not since the organization is called “The Order of the Phoenix” afterall.
Anniversary of Vannavar [sic ] Bush’s famous essay describing the MEMEX machine
Bush was a visionary and his work in creating the environment which nurtured
the development of what became the internet is well documented in several
excellent articles in Wired magazine and ibiblio.
Poet of a sort or at least a creator of bon motes. My collegue Gary Marchionini has a gift or a curse for creating oddly specific words for the field of Information and Library Science. He has not been as widely recognized for this gift/curse as he deserves. In order to rectify that, I present this short list.
Sharium - noun – A virtual workspace with rich content and powerful tools where people can work independently or collaborate with each other to learn and solve information problems. A collaborative problem solving environment. [based on Marchionini 99] – 250+ Google hits.
[...] National Models: What is it about the Triangle that has us so chock full of nationally recognized institutions and model programs on a host of social-change issues? Maybe it’s that the region is still small enough so that grassroots organizing feels doable. Or maybe it’s because our economy has kept us on the cutting edge–tobacco manufacturing to RTP to the City of Medicine. But I think it goes deeper, to the progressive element that’s in the water around here. Among some of the leaders in this arena: The Self-Help Credit Union, Ladyslipper Music, The Institute for Southern Studies, Full Frame documentary film festival, Public Allies, Smart Start, ibiblio, The Triangle Community Foundation, Lincoln and Piedmont Community Health centers, The Coalition for Family Peace–and for that matter, the University of North Carolina and its 16 campuses.
Today in celebration of the 36 anniversary of the first moonlanding, Google not only spiffed up the logo on their search page, but they released a Google Maps version for the moon. Landing sites and more are noted. Now if they will only add bike paths and public transportation mapping too. (yes on the moon and on the earth too). They do keep the Google off-earth site meme going. Hint: zoom in to on the Google Moon Map for a cute surprise.
Not moon-related, but Google Maps related: The folks at housingmaps.com have taken the Google Maps API and added the Craig’s List housing datastream and ended up with a great service if you are looking to buy/rent/lease a place to live (Triangle included as Raleigh).
Also [spoiler here], today’s New York Times Crossword theme is the first moon landing. And yes I finished it over coffee!