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Monday, July 18, 2005

Comcast hearings

Posted By on Mon, Jul 18, 2005 at 2:31 PM

Here's a bit of Vermont media news — just got an email from Lauren-Glenn Davitian of CCTV encouraging folks to file comments with the Public Service Board regarding Comcast's bid to take over Adelphia's assets in Vermont. The PSB's public hearing is at 8pm tomorrow night. Vermont Interactive Television lets you take part in it at locations all over the state. For more information, check out this page on the CCTV site.

Cheap Gas

Posted By on Mon, Jul 18, 2005 at 10:24 AM

Check out this site I found while researching a story this week — VermontGasPrices.com. It tells you where to find the best prices, and charts fuel data around the state and the nation. Extremely useful information.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Half-Blood Prince!

Posted By on Sat, Jul 16, 2005 at 5:53 PM

Ann-Elise and I went to the Book Rack in Essex last night to get our copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. We had to drive around looking for a parking place. They were having a big party, and the Essex Outlet Fair was packed! Unfortunately, we only got one copy, so only one of us can read at a time. Consequently, I'm only half-way through. Not bad so far.

Schooling on Teachout

Posted By on Sat, Jul 16, 2005 at 5:43 PM

Zephyr Teachout's potential Congressional campaign has raised some eyebrows over at Politics VT. On Thursday, the anonymous politicos there "penned" an introductory post about Zephyr (with a photo) questioning her suitability as a candidate.

Here's the interesting thing, I think, her qualifications as a candidate aside. Reading their post, it looks like they've never met her, don't know much about her, and only recently heard about the whole "Dean paid bloggers"  fiasco, which was a big story among national, tech-savvy Democratic activists. Weird, I think, considering her high profile during and after the Dean campaign. After citing two negative and puzzled quotes (from anonymous sources), they admit: "We could not track down anyone who knew of Ms. Teachout or of herplans. This is the only info we have on her, and all we heard wasnegative...which is not a good sign for a Democratic candidate."

Too bad they couldn't make it to coffeeblogging  on Friday, eh?

Their unfamiliarity with ZT is a good example of the kind of Vermont's digital political divide. There's an entire class of tuned in, tech-savvy politics watchers — some of them Vermonters — for whom Zephyr is a celebrity, a household name. NTodd, for example. The establishment state Democratic Party still hasn't connected with these folks. This is no surprise. Does anyone remember Peter Clavelle's truly terrible flash Internet ad of the last campaign? Despite our former Governor's success with all things online, the stateDemocrats don't seem to really get the net.

This kind of unfamiliarity with an obviously influential, innovative thinker doesn't seem to happen with our state Republicans. They seem to be more in touch with the Internets, so to speak. Like Google ads. Did you ever notice how during the 2004 election, if you Googled Peter Clavelle, a little Google ad for Jim Douglas popped up in the right-hand margin? It's true. I asked Neal Lunderville, Douglas' campaign manager, about it, and he said it took him 10 minutes to do that on his laptop, and it drove a good amount of traffic to the Douglas website, and cheaply at that. I think this old school unfamiliarity with technology is bad news for Vermont's Democratic party. I think it might be one of the (many) reasons why our true blue state has a Republican governor.

UPDATE: Bernie gets it. He's podcasting.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Computer lab in Maltex building

Posted By on Thu, Jul 14, 2005 at 1:22 PM

Just got a press release from CVOEO (Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity) touting the success of their public computing lab in the South End, at the Maltex Building on Pine Street. The press release mentions the lab's 100th user, a woman named Guerda Alerte:

The lab, funded by the Verizon Foundation, and staffed through a grant from Vermont Associates Techcorps, an Americorps Program, is fully equipped with computers and high-speed Internet access. Guerda, who is 19 years old and comes from Africa, uses the lab to practice typing and working with an Excel spreadsheet. Guerda also volunteers to mentor others in the lab a couple of days a week.

CVOEO’s computer lab was created for just such a person — an enthusiastic adult learner who is willing to share with others, and had limited access or exposure to computers in the past. The purpose of the lab is to close the digital divide by helping people learn computer basics in order to get jobs, successfully develop and run businesses, improve access to information and education, and communicate with loved ones.

Sounds great. I'll have to stop by and take a look. For more information on the lab, contact Mediha Jusufagic at 860-1417 x109.

Real VT: hallucinate, try not to hate, love your mate

Posted By on Thu, Jul 14, 2005 at 12:31 PM

The new INXS reality show is apparently popular among Vermont men both gay  and straight. Heather Aja, of Get Real, is talking about it, too.

Not having TV, I wouldn't know a thing about it. That's an INXS reference in the title, by the way.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Zephyr for Congress?

Posted on Wed, Jul 13, 2005 at 8:10 PM

Peter Freyne noted in today's Seven Days  that Vermont's own Zephyr Teachout  — of Howard Dean's internet team fame — is considering a bid for the Congressional seat Bernie will vacate when he runs for Senate. MrLiberal, frequent contributor to Daily Kos, makes mention of Freyne's column in this Kos diary.

Note that most of the Kos community comments about her candidacy are negative — there was this whole dustup a few months back where Zephyr said the Dean campaign paid bloggers like Markos (aka Kos) and Jerome (of MyDD). The rest of the world has probably forgotten about this by now, but die-hard partisans remember. Oh, they remember. Not that the blogger he-said-she-said will have much impact on a race in Vermont.

By the way, Zephyr recently discontinued Zonkette, her old blog, which is why I dropped it from the blogroll. I assume that decision had something to do with her potential campaign.

Back to work and sundry items

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2005 at 2:55 PM

I'm back at my desk at Seven Days, drinking coffee, sifting through piles of newspapers from 2004 as I try to decide what to send in for the Vermont Press Association  Awards (follow the link to the non-existent website). I would link to a bunch of choices and ask for your input, but, um, I can't. The Seven Days online archive starts with the first issue from 2005.

Thankfully, we're finally putting the other 9 years online. The editors hired someone to do this mindless data entry this summer. Sam Horowitz, Assistant Editor Ruth's son, got the job. A stunning display of nepotism? Or proof that it's the most boring, tedious job in the world? You decide.

17-year-old Sam has claimed a table next to my desk for the summer. "You can refer to me as "The Esteemed Reverand Samuel Horowitz," he says, noting that he's a certified minister through the Universal Life Church . In addition to endlessly cutting and pasting, he likes to spin around in his swivel chair, toss the office nerf basketball into the hoop, and listen to Cream and Cake — "it's two different bands," he explains ungrammatically. I think we'll get along fine.

Thanks to 7D calendar writer Meghan Dewald for filling in for me while I was gone. Even though, like the cat who came back, I just couldn't stay away.

Lastly, an unrelated link — I just received this fun spoofof online social networks from The Onion. "Friend-matching websiteslike Friendster are gaining in popularity," it says. "What's theappeal?" It offers a few observations, like "online friends easier tocut loose than people in your building." Etc. A couple years too late,sure, but still really funny.

Green Mountain Mojo

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2005 at 2:35 PM

Since I'm going on vacation myself next week, the Seven Days calendar has kept me more than usually busy for the past few days, and left me less time than I'd hoped for blogging fun.

But before I welcome Cathy's (official) return, please take a moment to celebrate Vermont's state tax surplus, and the fact that this article  in the Brattleboro Reformer was posted to the Daily Kos mainpage this morning.

Fiscal responsibility, folks. It's where it's at.

Vermonters at Arlington West

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2005 at 8:09 AM

My last vacation post, I promise.

While looking for my friend's post-wedding brunch party in Santa Barbara, California on Sunday, I drove past Arlington West, a memorial for American soldiers killed in Iraq. I stopped and spent some time walking around the rows of crosses, placed meticulously in neat rows in the sand, each one bearing the name of a fallen soldier. The sun was shining, as it almost always does in Santa Barbara. "Taps" played quietly from a cd player nearby.

Because I'm still a reporter, even when I go on vacation, I interviewed Carolyn Rice, one of the memorial's volunteer organizers, and Secretary of the Santa Barbara chapter of Veterans for Peace. The volunteers have been setting up these crosses at Stearns Wharf each Sunday since November 3, 2003.  Rice calls the display "a visual image of the cost of war."

She told me that, in the beginning, they envisioned this as an anti-war project, but they soon decided to abandon their political message and let the growing field of crosses speak for itself. Nobody makes speeches here, or passes out anti-war pamphlets. "When you meeet a parent of a kid who died and who is not against the war," explained Rice, "they don't deserve to have that shoved in their face."

And the volunteers do meet veterans, and military families, and anti-war activists, and tourists. The afternoon I was there, I watched a group of scruffy teens sit in front of one cross. I saw a woman with three kids walking through the rows. I saw a heavy-set bearded man sitting in a lotus position at one end of the display. I didn't see anyone protesting the memorial, or making a scene. Rice said she's seen some of that, though, and she's seen families and active duty service members walk through to find crosses.

I overheard a lot of people who started discussing the war because they saw the crosses. Ultimately, that's the point. I didn't spend enough time talking to the organizers to hear them say this, but I expect their goal is to get people talking. It's so easy to forget we're at war, especially when so many of us (like me) don't have relatives or close friends serving in it.

So maybe take a minute to learn more about some of the Vermont soldiers who were killed over the past two years. I couldn't remember all of their names, but I did find three crosses, for Sgt. Kevin Sheehan , Sgt. Jesse Strong  and Cpl. Mark Evnin . Cpl. Evnin was Jewish — I remembered because he was a friend of friends — but there's no mention of that on his cross. I know the organizers intend to show uniformity, but perhaps if you contact them , they'll make amends. I would have suggested it to them at the time, but I wasn't positive about his religion until I double-checked his obituary.

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