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Saturday, July 30, 2005

Putting the Art in Wal-Mart

Posted By on Sat, Jul 30, 2005 at 6:38 PM

Today was a lovely summer day — far too nice to be inside, hunched in front of a computer screen — so my partner Ann-Elise and our friends Ita and Malisa and I took off for day-long road trip. We rode the ferry to Plattsburgh, NY, where we watched excerpts from the 18th Century French ballet Copelia, arranged by London-based choreographer Julia Gleik, and performed by dancers from Norte Maar.

The short ballet was free. After all, it would have been difficult to charge admission in the Wal-Mart Supercenter parking lot. Congratulations to the folks at Norte Maar for dreaming up this enchanting populist display. It's really the only way I would have gone to the ballet.

Afterwards, we trekked to St. Albans to see a Revolutionary War re-enactment. Sadly, we missed the scrimmage with the "loyalist Tory scum," but we weren't too late to hear a few remarkably loud cannon blasts at Taylor Park in the center of town. To learn more about these re-enactors, visit their blog (!)

Friday, July 29, 2005

Yes, the Seven Days website is really slow

Posted By on Fri, Jul 29, 2005 at 10:28 AM

If you've tried to read Seven Days online lately, you've probably noticed that the site is really slow. We know about the problem, and are working to fix it. Webmaster Don says we're getting a new server in a couple weeks that should take care of it. Until then, everybody pick up a hard copy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Wanted: Burlington Telecom Beta-Testers

Posted By on Wed, Jul 27, 2005 at 7:51 PM

Look what I got in my inbox today — thanks Katy at Burton!

Wanted: Beta-Testers

Beginning in the fall of 2005, Burlington Telecom will begin offering telephone, internet, and cable television* services to residents and businesses in the initial service area (ISA). Other areas will follow. Initially approximately 2400 homes and business in the ISA will be able to sign up for two of the three services - telephone and broadband internet service - with cable television becoming available in in December 2005.

*Before we can offer the cable television component we must first acquire a "Certificate of Public Good" through the Public Service Board. This process is being delayed by Adelphia Cable's objections. Again, we hope to be able to offer cable TV by this December.

We Need You: Apply Online

We are looking for approximately 100 Beta-Testers of our system (must agree to take telephone AND internet service) as we-roll out our service across the initial service area.

Here's the type of household we're looking for:
    •     heavy users of the internet
    •      gamers
    •     technology-based home businesses
    •     small businesses with heavy internet and phone use
    •     dial-up internet users

We are offering up to 30 days of free service in exchange for your feedback. The feedback may range from simple e-mail dialogue to participating in focus groups. You will be helping us build a better network - your network! There is no commitment beyond that. After the free period it will be your choice whether or not to continue with BT.

If you are interested in becoming a beta-tester please apply here. We will notify you within a few days if you application has been approved.

Candleblog: Best Vermont Blog

Posted By on Wed, Jul 27, 2005 at 11:03 AM

Well, the winners of the 2005 Daysies have been officially announced in today's Seven Days (I don't think the results are posted at the site just yet). I'd like to congratulate Bill Simmon and his pals at Candleblog — they won Best Vermont Blog. And they deserve it. Especially since they're still the number one Google result when you search for Star Wars dweebs need to get a life.

VT Blogs: Zephyr Teachout Q&A on PoliticsVT

Posted By on Wed, Jul 27, 2005 at 8:52 AM

OK, we're going to try something here at 802 Online. PoliticsVT  — which tech-savvy Vermont politicos will know as an anonymously written blog about Vermont politics — has posted a Q&A with Zephyr Teachout  regarding her political aspirations. Far as I know, it's the first time they've ever interviewed somebody directly, on the record. 

Zephyr emailed PVT her answers, and cc'd me. She asked if I would cross post the interview here, so that readers would know she really did answer their questions. I guess she feels a little squeamish about the anonymity factor — though I have to say, I'm encouraged that they have a new "Communications Director" who is reachable via email. The PoliticsVT people have linked the post here, too. So 802 is serving as some kind of authenticator.

I'm reprinting ZT's answers here because it seems like a useful service that I can provide (though we'll have to think of a better way for me to provide it in the future without taking up so much space on my homepage). I'm also doing it as a way of encouraging bloggers to interview public figures. As local news coverage declines on TV and in the newspapers, bloggers can help fill that void. That's why I've been linking to all these Vermont blogs, helping to build the Vermont blogosphere. It's still a long way off, but I think it's an idea that's got potential.

So here's the Q&A between the Capitol Bureau of PoliticsVT and Zephyr Teachout :

Q: What do you think of Peter Shumlin and Peter Welch?

A: I think very highly of both the Peters.

I've known Peter Welch since I was young, and I've met Peter Shumlin a few times, and I think both of them would do a good job as Congressmen.

Q: Also, why are you considering running for the US House?

A: I want to live in world where all people are closer to political power — and closer to economic power, too. Congress is one way to move us closer to that world.

I believe we can change the way we do politics, the way we practice economics, the way we think about — and value —community.

I'd like to get into the guts of our system and get to work transforming it, with as many Vermonters along as possible. One way to start the transformation is in the election — thinking about the election not just as a way to get people elected, but as a way to
learn from people, open up the flood to new ideas and new solutions. I've been thinking about ways the race could make the candidate a conduit of the ideas of Vermonters — instead of a platform with a face that she has to sell.

That said, most considerations are practical. The first things most politicos will ask you when you talk to them about running for Congress is "how many people you know who can donate between $1,000 and $2,000 to you," and "how much 'points' on TV cost in the state."
I've got a fundraising background (I've started two nonprofits) and I don't scare easily, but its not a trivial task. I'm honestly assessing the options. The Peters will probably have good contacts with the in-state people who can give $1000 or more — they've been in politics
for over half a century combined, and made lots of good connections. Which means that I'd rely on much smaller donations, and never have near their money.

It may be doable. No one who is running has high name recognition. In a recent poll, I think less than 10% of Vermonters had opinions, positive or negative, about either Peter. If I run, I don't want to run a campaign based on TV — I want to run a true grassroots campaign, where volunteers are given real power, not just stamplicking jobs.

We've got a long tradition of independent thinking and irreverent, engaged politics. I'm not sure we couldn't have a little fun in this primary, and, in the process, gets thousands of more people involved in solving the real puzzles we face as a country and world: How do we want to live? How do we want our communities to look? How do we best imagine our collective future? What are we willing to sacrifice to get there?

Q: What are your strengths and weaknesses, and why are you a better candidate than your two possible Democratic opponents?

A: I'm young and open and deeply, deeply want to improve the world, and I'm pretty good at practically achieving things I try my hand at. I'm not afraid to put myself on the line for things I believe in. Both other candidates have much more political experience.

Beyond that, I would leave it up to other people to decide.

But only after I decide myself, which is going to be a few months.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear what people hope the issues in this race focus on. Email me personally (zteachout at gmail dot com) or comment directly — and thanks for your thoughts.

Cathy again: Visit Friday Coffeeblogging for extended audio of Zephyr discussing violent video games, copyright law and teen flicks of the 1980s (ok, she was mostly listening to other people talk about War Games, etc.).

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Blogging and the Workplace

Posted By on Tue, Jul 26, 2005 at 12:30 PM

Most people know by now that what you do on the Internet under your own name will almost certainly follow you offline. Amazingly, an editor at the Maimi New Times — an alt. weekly in Miami FL — thought that the usual journalistic rules about libel didn't apply to her blog, where she trashed an employee. At least, that's what it says in this article from Daily Business Review. The editor in question has been suspended and may be sued.

Most cyber-savvy citizens are aware — or should be aware — that bloggers have been fired from their jobs for posting office gossip or proprietary information, or even for making an explicit connection between their blogs and their workplace. Blogging makes employers nervous, the same way having a journalist embedded at their company would make employers nervous. Employers need to understand this medium, and how it can affect their business or organization.

Earlier this year, I discovered that a Vermont blogger had posted information linking him to his/her employer, and realized that the employer in question would likely not approve of the staffperson's blog. I chose not to draw attention to this situation, but I wonder if Vermont's businesses and institutions have caught up with this national trend. Does your workplace have a blogging policy? Do your employers know about your blog? How do you deal with this potential conflict?

Real VT: oh honey, honey!

Posted By on Tue, Jul 26, 2005 at 10:45 AM

Maryellen at Old Shaw Farm blogs about their first honey of the season.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Real VT: Happiness is a clean gun

Posted By on Sun, Jul 24, 2005 at 1:37 PM

I really enjoy debunking the myth that Vermonters are all hippie peaceniks. Here's Jeff Soyer, the Gay Gun Nut of Fairlee, talking about what he did during his leisurely Saturday afternoon. His post, Fondling My Gun, isn't nearly as pornographic as you might expect, though some folks may still find it offensive.

When I used to collect guitars, I would sometimes lay them all outand polish them, remove any fingerprint, tune them over and over, feeland
smell the wood and laquer.  I would just revel in them, that I owned them and loved them.I'm like that with my guns...Sometimes, I treat them better than my cats. I spread them all out before me, clean them all even if they don't need it...I hold my P-45 and think, "you will protect me from EVERYTHING". I hugmy Marlin .22 bolt and think, "I had you when I was 14-years-old"...

Lest anyone think this post is about more than just, er, weaponry, Jeff reminds us of his true purpose:

Firearms and the Second Amendment are all we have standing betweenus and a totalitarianism, fascist government dreamed-up by the leftist,liberal members of our once frontier, bold nation.

Have you fondled your guns today?

Well, have you?

Friday, July 22, 2005

s'long and thanks for all the hits

Posted By on Fri, Jul 22, 2005 at 11:09 AM

Anyone who spends much time poking around in the blogosphere knows that blogs come and go. Blogging always turns out to be a lot more work than you think it is.

There are several blogs on my Vermont Blogs list that haven't been updated in a while, and I'd like to point them out. I may boot 'em from the list, but I haven't decided if that's the thing to do yet. Many of them still have content available online, as if the owners have only stepped away for a moment but will soon be back. Do we keep hoping for a return? Or do we, like Kate Winslet in Titanic, bravely let them go to save ourselves? Er, uh...

AWOL blogs include:
Art + Function last post May 25
Biznerflicks last post April 11
Coming Clean last post June 28
Fat Bald Married Guy — he emailed me and posted on his blog saying he was on hiatus due to personal stuff
My Winooski Garden — this blogger figured out the digital camera, but not the laptop. so she hasn't posted in a while
Rhymes With Mango last post June 5
Ron's Worship Thoughts last post June 20
VT Politics these anonymous bloggers suspended posts after a mysterious "threat made against one of our family members"
Vermont Fresh Network last post April 14
Vermont's Other President last post June 17 — this blogger is still trying to refine her angle
Vermont, Our Life Here last post May 31
robrohr.org last post June 7

And I'd like to bid adieu to The Bulldozer Monologues, whose author, Rachel Severence, moved to San Francisco. Not sure how to categorize her blog, since it still has lots of useful info about VT, but is no longer of VT. Working on it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Vermonters speak out about Comcast/Adelphia deal

Posted By on Tue, Jul 19, 2005 at 10:55 PM

Just returned from the Public Service Board's hearing on Comcast's bid to buy Adelphia, which is in bancrupcy. The deal would make Comcast the largest cable TV provider in Vermont. The PSB hearing was held via Vermont Interactive Television, so although the host site was in the state office complex in Waterbury, citizens were able to interact with each other at 13 locations throughout the state, which was pretty cool.

I watched from the Waterbury site, where I got to talk with moderator James Volz, and representatives from Comcast and Adelphia. Not that we talked a whole lot. Mostly we were there to listen. At least 30 people showed up to sites around the state; the meeting was announced just a week ago. Most of the people who spoke worked for one of the PEG stations — that's what they call public, educational and governmental access channels. They want the PSB to issue guidelines to Comcast protecting Vermonters' access to PEG resources. The funding for PEG channels comes from cable subscribers, via the cable company. The overwhelming majority of speakers warned the PSB to be wary of Comcast, which one speaker called an "800 pound gorilla."

I'll give a more detailed report in next week's paper — a decision's not expected until the end of the year, with the formal hearing scheduled for October. The bottom line is that the people who spoke were wary of Comcast, and pissed, as usual, at Adelphia for high rates and poor customer service. Except Melissa Pierce, of Essex, who praised the company, and said, "I am a satisfied Adelphia customer."

After hearing her comments, Paul Lagasse of St. Albans mused, "I don't know what she's talking about. It almost sounds like she works for Adelphia." Pierce got in front of the microphone again at the end of the hearing to say that yes, in fact, she does work for Adelphia. But she's still a satisfied customer.

Comcast's PR man, Rob Wilson, assured me that the companyappreciates everyone's input. "We look forward to the opportunity tocome in here and show that Comcast is a great company," he said.

The photo shows Adelphia and Comcast representatives (and James Volz facing forward, behind the table) as they watch a guy from Bennington go on about how "Comcast has a really terrible reputation in the industry." Bill Simmon of VCAM tells us what he thinks on Candleblog. And there's still time to add your voice to the chorus.

UPDATE: Here's the Burlington Free Press article from today's paper with more comments from Comcast. This link will disappear in a week, so look now.

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