Archive for August 30th, 2008

We Invented It, We Should Own It


Invented by American computer scientists during the 1970s, the Internet has been embraced around the globe. During the network’s first
three decades, most Internet traffic flowed through the United States.

In many cases, data sent between two locations within a given country also passed through the United States.

Engineers who help run the Internet said that it would have been impossible for the United States
to maintain its hegemony over the long run because of the very nature of the Internet; it has no central point of control.

And now, the balance of power is shifting. Data is increasingly flowing around the United States, which may have intelligence — and conceivably
military — consequences.

from the New York Times

Although the “Internet” and the technology that made it possible was largely developed in the United States, that was eons and many generations ago in cyber-time. More recently, today’s internet, the WWW, was “invented” in Switzerland and is truly a world without borders – but lots of walls.

American dominance of the virtual worlds of the Internet, like American dominence of the Real World, is a delusion of grandeur, doomed to evaporate in the cold, clear light of the 21st century. Live with it. We may not own or control the Internet, but we still Rule it, by dint of our ingenuity, creativity and insatiable curiosity.

Bumpkin Country


The Dowbrigade uses an icebreaking exercise with groups of recently arrived students in which one of the categories for discussion is “One thing you really want to do before you leave Boston”. When our turn came we always list visiting the Harbor Islands, something we have yet to do 37 years after we first came to live in the Boston area. This may be our chance.

from the Boston Globe

Bumpkin Island

Take the ferry to Bumpkin Island this weekend, and you may come across a woman lurking in the underbrush, wearing burlap covered with leaves. Don’t be alarmed: She’s not a kook. She’s an artist.

So are the men in kimonos staging lectures and the folks who may invite you to chat with them via tin-can telephone.

About 40 artists have spread out across the Boston Harbor Island for Labor Day weekend as part of a special event called the Bumpkin Island Art Encampment, featuring 10 art installations, sculptures, and performances.

It’s free and open to the public today through Monday; ferries are available to the island from various locations.

Some of the artists are exploring the idea of home. With “Survival Kit,” Gabe Moylan and Rachel Roberts are trying to create a space of domestic tranquility using only a Federal Emergency Management Association survival kit and what is available on the island.

Other pieces have been sparked by 19th century history. “Astrodime Transit Authority,” the tin-can project, commemorates the 150th anniversary of the first official use of the trans-Atlantic cable – an 1858 telegram to President James Buchanan from Britain’s Queen Victoria.

At low tide, when it’s possible to wade to the mainland, a group plans to set up a tin-can call from Bumpkin Island to nearby Hull. They will invite visitors to join in a reenactment, playing an extended game of telephone.

How Many Million Cracks?


WASHINGTON — Senator John McCain spent the summer arguing that a 40-something candidate with four years in major office and no significant foreign policy experience was not ready to be president.

And then on Friday he picked as his running mate a 40-something candidate with two years in major office and no significant foreign policy experience.

from the New York Times

Brilliant pick, from where the Dowbrigade is sitting. Undoubtedly McCain will pick up a hefty percentage of the women who took the collective dis of Hillary personally, and as an affront to women. Of course, this is a minority of all Hilliary supporters – those who supported her for ideological or purely practical reasons have shifted their support to the relatively benign Obama.

But among those true believers who feel that what ails the American body politic is an overdose of testosterone poisoning, voting for Palin, especially with a spectral John McCain growing older by the week and slumping at her side, is going to make sense. Hell, Vegas is probably giving even odds he doesn’t last out his first term. And there just might be enough of these sisters to sway a close election, which this is shaping up to be. As incredible as it may seem, the Democrats may somehow have found a way to blow another Big Game, in danger of becoming the Buffalo Bills of American Politics.

Hillary, despite all of her enthusiastic bombast, is obviously convinced Obama is doomed, and has plans for a triumphant told-you-so return to the stage in ’12. But now the Republicans, whether or not McCain is forced to make a one-term pledge, will have an experienced female QB on the bench, ready to go into the game to counter Hillary. A younger, prettier female coming off of four years of high-profile photo-ops. Brilliant.

Personally, experience has shown the Dowbrigade that women are better at just about everything than men, except Football and Writing. For some reason, almost all of our favorite football players and writers are men. Call us a chauvinist. But we have no doubt that women would do a much better job of running the world than men, not that it would be much of a challenge considering how we’ve bolloxed up the past 3,000 years through Patriarchial mismanagement.

On the other hand, this conviction could not induce us to vote for Condelezza Rice for President, for example, or Margaret Thatcher, or Sarah Palin for that matter. We knew Pinky Bhutto from Winthrop House dining hall, and we wouldn’t have voter for her either,  God rest her soul, even had we been born in Pakistan.

We are so over the Hill, we can’t even see her in the rear view mirror. Given that the Bill is yet to be paid, we’d have to say their race is run and their day is done. But we’ve been wrong before.

So who is the Dowbrigade supporting this time around? As we tell our students when they ask us this question, as a registered Massachusetts voter, it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. Our electoral votes were signed sealed and delivered long ago. However, who one supports, especially as psuedo-pundit, can make a difference. The truth is we are waiting to see who the Natural Law Party nominates, now that John Hagelin is President of the United States Peace Government.

Stay tuned…..

Urban Myth No More


China Arnold, 28, showed no reaction when the jury's verdict was announced, then lowered her head.DAYTON, Ohio – A mother was convicted yesterday of killing her month-old daughter by burning her in a microwave oven, with jurors rejecting a defense attorney’s claims that there was evidence that someone else was responsible.

Prosecutors said Arnold intentionally put her baby in the microwave oven and burned the child to death after fight with her boyfriend.

Arnold’s cellmate testified that Arnold confessed to putting the baby in the microwave and turning it on because she was worried her boyfriend would leave her if he found out the child wasn’t his.

from the Boston Globe

We always thought this was an urban myth, but now that we think about it, the myth version was a woman who put her dog in the microwave after a bath to dry it more quickly. Never underestimate the depraved ingenuity of a technically human being, male or female, trying to avoid true paternity.