Sunday, April 30, 2006

Foreign Films

I've always loved foreign films. Now that Bollywood films are popular I can smugly brag I was into those at least 10 years before everyone else. It might just be me, but it seems there's hardly as many foreign films getting publicity. I don't really go for blockbuster type films. I have to really search for good foreign films, and good foreign films with black folks are harder to find than hen's teeth so I'm lucky Black Girl in Paris blogs about them. In my neck of the woods, my only hope of seeing Les Enfants du Pays is Amazon France.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

May the Gods Help Us

Apparently, I'm not the only person who thought the people over at the Sci-fi channel were smoking herbal cigarettes this month. I'm a major Battlestar Galactica devotee, but lately the Sci-fi Channel has weirded me out. First they do this mastodon-possessed-by-alien-movie. The writers must have had serious writer's block. Little did I know that was going to be the high point this month. That little gem was followed up with Rottweiler --the story of a killer dog with titanium teeth.

I was about ready to blow them off until the Fall, when the Lords of Kobol heard my prayer and offered me a ray of light--Caprica. Yes, that bright and shining star will be luminesing in my living room come September. Sci-fi channel, you are redeemed.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Information and Access

I want to talk about bit about access to information. It's one of the reasons I became a librarian. Jack Anderson was an 'old school' journalist. He went truth hunting in the highest places without fear. He stood his ground against the best the government could throw at him, including J. Edgar Hoover and Joseph McCarthy. He was the kind of journalist who would have used Nancy Grace and her ilk to run errands until they learned how to do something significant like get the facts straight. Now that he's gone, it's not surprising the government is seeking to do a eminent domaintype grab of all his papers.

It's ironic that the biggest and most important library in the country is government owned because traditionally librarians and government have a rocky relationship. Librarians believe in access to information. The government believes in The Patriot Act. And again, not so surprisingly, we learn of a secret list of prisoners being revealed for the first time today. Even our allies didn't know they had prisoners being held there--not officially anyway.

Another example from this week is the McCllelan debacle. According to an NPR interviewer, the feeling in the white house press corps is that McClellan was fed the wrong information. For those of you who don't know, McClellan was the Bush mouthpiece that repeatedly told the press corps that Rove and Libby had nothing to do with leaking Valerie Plame's identity. Of course we know that to be a lie now. There's so many correlations you can draw between the lives of these two men. Both newsmen, yet diametrically opposed in their career paths. How can two people be in the same field but do such different work? Do you see the irony also?

Even more ironic is it that a government which seeks to prevent access to information at every turn, wants full access to Jack Anderson's papers, and that given the right information, ex press secretary McCllelan might still be employed.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Arrest in Duke Case

From The Smoking Gun--

Duke Rape Indictment
Lacrosse players charged with sexual assault, kidnapping of dancer
APRIL 18--Two Duke University lacrosse players have been charged with the rape and kidnapping of an exotic dancer who claims that she was assaulted last month at a team party. Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, both sophomores, were named in indictments unsealed today. Copies of the felony charges can be found below. Seligmann and Finnerty were arrested early this morning and subsequently released on $400,000 bond. According to the dancer, a 27-year-old North Carolina Central University student, she was sexually assaulted by a trio of men in the bathroom of a home shared by three of the lacrosse squad's captains. Her account of the March 14 incident is contained in this detailed search warrant application. The 19-year-old Finnerty (left) and Seligmann, 20, are pictured above in booking photos snapped this morning at the Durham County Detention Facility. A North Carolina grand jury voted indictments against the athletes during sessions last Wednesday and yesterday. A judge ordered the indictments sealed after District Attorney Michael Nifong filed motions arguing that there was a "substantial risk" that Seligmann and Finnerty would flee if given advance notice of the charges. If convicted, Nifong noted, Finnerty, from Garden City, N.Y., and Seligmann, from Essex Fells, N.J., would each face a minimum prison term of between 12 and 15 years. (8 pages)

continued at The Smoking Gun

Monday, April 17, 2006

Mother, dancer, accuser

News & Observer
Mother, dancer, accuser
Duke scandal peels back layers of Durham woman's identity
Samiha Khanna, Staff Writer

She is a 27-year-old mother of two who married young, served in the Navy and was once in serious trouble because of an episode of drunken driving and assault that left her with a criminal record.
On the campus of N.C. Central University, where she is a full-time student, few people know her.

Today she may be the nation's best-known unnamed person. She is the woman whose report of rape at a Duke lacrosse team party, where she had been hired to dance, has riveted people here in her hometown and far beyond.

The accusation in the early hours of March 14 launched a police investigation. Defense lawyers say they expect the case to go before a grand jury Monday.

Although there are no formal charges, the allegations have prompted a vigorous defense by lawyers for lacrosse team members and have divided the Duke campus and the Durham community over nearly every aspect of the case, including the credibility of the woman who brought the accusation.

continued here

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Natalee Again

Maybe if Olamide Adeyooye had received half the attention that Natalee Holloway has she might still be alive. What's even sadder is her MySpace page is still active.

Ethnic Cleansing by Inaction

More and more I feel like Canada should be my 'go to' country.

The Editors at The Nation write:

New Orleans has long been pivotal in the struggle for black voting rights. During the Civil War, free blacks there demanded suffrage; their efforts resulted in Lincoln's first public call for voting rights for some blacks in the final speech of his life. Once these rights were won, New Orleans blacks took an active part in politics, leading to the establishment of the South's only integrated public school system. But rights once gained aren't necessarily secure; after Reconstruction, blacks in New Orleans lost the right to vote. As Thomas Wentworth Higginson wrote at the time of the Civil War, "revolutions may go backwards."

This is what we are seeing now, as New Orleans prepares for municipal elections on April 22. These elections are set to take place even though fewer than half the city's 460,000 residents have returned and the vast majority of those displaced outside Louisiana are African-Americans--the result of what Representative Barney Frank calls the Bush Administration's policy of "ethnic cleansing by inaction."

How did this happen? How did New Orleans become the most obvious symbol of the "backwards revolution" in voting rights that's been going on for at least twenty-five years?
read more

WTF! Hassidic Reggae?

Have you seen this? Is it the 7th sign? Are black folks about to be obsolete?


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Trailing Edge vs. Leading Edge

You can tell from looking at the design of this blog I know just enough HTML to be dangerous. I was able to find a graphic I love and massage it to fit in with the color theme, but I wasn't able to figure out how to place it exactly where I want it. Also, I wasn't able to change the text in the title to stand out more. Ahh, the mysteries of cascading style sheets.

At the school where I work, we offer many technology courses, but there's no vehicle for staff to get continuing education. Let me rephrase that, on paper we offer many technology workshops for staff, but there is a caveat. These workshops require a minimum number of people to attend and the minimum is almost never reached, therefore the classes are often cancelled. I usually find myself surrounded by a stack of dummies books.

A co-worker and I often talk about the trailing edge vs. the leading edge. Let me illustrate with a typical occurrence--for me anyway. One evening our computer tech was out so I found myself helping a student with her spreadsheet homework. She had been to class that day, had her textbook spread out before her, but couldn't solve the problem. Now, keep in mind my much older brain hadn't attended a an Excel class in at least 10 years. I didn't know the answer but, I knew right clicking would give me some options. So that's what I did. I right clicked and kept trying different options until I found the right one--process of elimination. I told her this. Explained this. Asked her if she understood. She said she did. Five minutes later she stood in the doorway of my office asking me to show her how to do that again. What's scary is, this is the generation that will be in charge of my nursing home care.

There's buzz about Web 2.0. Every time I hear that phrase I chuckle because I get a mental image of an Amish horse and buggy driving down the information highway. Seriously, young people may have one or two tricks in their technology bag, but they're missing a lot of needed skills. For every student that asks me why we don't have the latest and greatest on our public computers, there's ten that ask how to delete a blank space from a document. I don't make this stuff up. It's my life--unfortunately.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

My Inaugural Post

So this is my inaugural post in my inaugural blog. I feel I should say something really deep and thoughtful that will set the tone for however long I keep this blog going. What I really hope is that this is a baby step toward writing the books I know I’m capable of writing. Let’s hope. Blogging is just a networking tool, but maybe if someone finds my blog interesting or helpful, it will boost my confidence in the authorship area. Maybe I can help myself by paying it forward.

I have a lot of interests and one of them is instructional technology. The great thing about technology is that you don’t miss anything by waiting. It just gets better and cheaper. When I was a student, computers were crazy expensive. Then you had to buy software. Now they have these great web-based programs that look just like the popular Microsoft apps–for free. First off, there’s Num Sum. It’s an Excel doppelganger. On the word processor front there’s Writely–an MS Word lookalike that was just purchased by Google. Currently they’re not allowing new users to sign up for Writely while they transfer over to Google servers, so in the meantime you can give Zoho, another word processor, a try. For presentation software, take a look at Thumbstacks. It works a lot like–you guessed it–Powerpoint. Although it doesn’t have all the features of Powerpoint, it’s a good alternative. For a database alternative Lazybase allows anyone to design, create and share a database of whatever they like. All the programs I’ve mentioned are stand-alone products but Thinkfree is a whole suite of familiar looking office-type products.

Keep in mind that all I’ve mentioned are collaboration tools. They’re designed so you can work on a project with another person halfway around the world. They’re also web-based so if you lose Internet access, there goes your productivity. Of course there are many more than what I’ve mentioned here, but this is a good representation of the new Web 2.0 products.