Archive for April, 2010

Turning your Blog into a Book


Back at BarCamp, another drizzly morning, perfect for brunch in bed or a bracing geek-fest brunch, which consists this morning of complementary Starbucks coffee, Skittles, pretzel sticks and Eden Garden Salty ‘n Sweet Snack Bars.

First session up is a woman named Claudia Gere, telling us that getting a traditional publisher for your book is harder and harder these days.  We feel a pitch for self-publishing coming up.

We may not last as long today at the conference today, but let’s see what surprises the day will bring……

Birth Tourism

7 tourism is the phenomena of babies convincing their mothers to travel to the US pre-partum so that they can be US citizens, as well as take advantage of our swell pay-if-you-want medical system. A recent ABC News article says:

Thousands of legal immigrants, who do not permanently reside in the United States but give birth here, have given their children the gift of citizenship, which the U.S. grants to anyone born on its soil.

The number of U.S. births to non-resident mothers rose 53 percent between 2000 and 2006, according to the most recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

What they fail to mention until the 14th paragraph that “[o]f the 4,273,225 live births in the United States in 2006, the most recent data gathered by the National Center for Health Statistics, 7,670 were children born to mothers who said they do not live here,” That works out to 0.17% of all live births in 2006. Big deal.

Actually, we are surprised that the numbers aren’t much higher.  It sounds like a good deal to us.  We may just take out ads in major dailies in megacities like Mumbai and Sao Paulo offering birth tourism tours and services.  Out of 20 million residents there ought to be a few fools gullible enough to think that in a few years a US passport is going to be anything more than a blue badge of cowardice and a neon sign flashing “kidnap me”.

Food or Socialism


Afternoon sessions at Barcamp Boston. The turnout this year is impressive. What started as a small 50 geek gathering has turned into a 500 geek stampede.  The Dowbrigade’s personal scorecard at this point looks something like this: Fascinating sessions we understood – 1; Boring session we understood -1; fascinating sessions we understood very little of – 1; sessions where we had absolutely no idea what they were talking about – 2.

Currently trying to decide whether to go to see Connecting the world of cooking with or The Next Big Issues in Social Media, but since the latter has just begun while this is being posted this and the former seems to feature a pretty intuitive web site, we believe we will stay where we are.

Here is the schedule

Live from Bar Camp


Blogging live from Bar Camp Boston 5, the latest iteration of my favorite Geek conference, which is at the Stata Center (Frank Gehry designed monstrosity/masterpiece near Central Square) at MIT. Very cool stuff, only some of which I can understand, but it is an “unconference” with sessions and agendas set by the attendees upon arrival, which covers topics including technology, marketing, cooking, startups, sci-fi, social media, gadgets, communities, design, hardware hacking, UI design, entrepreneurship, AJAX, open source software, robotics, art, mobile computing, bioinformatics, RSS, social software, programming languages, the future of technology, for starters.

In the past we have presented with varying degrees of success, but this year we don’t plan on speaking, feel more in the mood for spacing out and sitting in the back fishing for WOW moments and light bulbs flashing on in the comic strip balloon above my head, which always happens once or twice at these shindigs. Here is the early board of session ideas, and the first few sessions already slotted into rooms and times. Stay tuned for updates and reviews.

Spark One Up for the Tea Party


Well, the Dowbrigade broke down and went to that big Tea Party protest on the Boston Common yesterday. We’ve been going to the 420 shindigs at the same place for years, and they rock. We’re not sure if they had just changed the name and moved it up a week, or if we’d have to come back next week to do it all again, but hell, the Dowbrigade is never one to turn down a chance to party in public.

We even dug out our old rose-colored granny glasses to get that whole aging hippie thing going. Imagine our surprise when we discovered that the “Tea” Party didn’t have anything to do with “Tea”! We noticed just in time to avoid a potentially fatal fox paws in the form of sparking up a huge fatty in the face of the Hot Hockey Moms from Holliston.

Then we thought it was one of those “tea-baggers” conventions, which we don’t actually understand but think is some sort of gay pride thing. Turns out we were wrong again.

But there were some really nice folks there, and after all, a protest is a protest, so we decided to stay, at least until we could savor the sweet stink of tear gas on the breeze, always guaranteed to bring back a rush of nostalgia.

We were talking to an excited plumber in a Boston Bruins jersey (and since when does the Prince of Darkness play on Causeway Street?) who seemed to have the United Nations confused with the US government when suddenly the show got much more interesting. That Saturday Night Live chick from 30 Rock was on the stage! It was hard to get closer and there was a whole firing line of papparazi in the way, so I couldn’t see if any of the other actors were there. We would have liked to see that Steven Baldwin,who cracks us up.

We couldn’t hear too well either, but her routine must have been pretty funny because everyone was cracking up and applauding. In fact, the whole protest was kinda funny, and not exactly in a good way. No tear gas, no police lines of gleaming riot gear, no phalanx of black-clad anarchists. The cops that were there were standing in the sun, joking with the protesters. Instead of patchouli and tear gas, the air was redolent with Polo cologne and fried dough. It was like, well, a day at the park.

The people were interesting, though, and we learned a lot of interesting stuff from them. I met some graphic designers from Grafton, some psalm singers from Saugus and a few framers from Framingham. From the framers we learned that the US Constitution contains a whole bunch of secret clauses we never knew about, like the ones that says we don’t need to pay taxes we don’t like and that ordinary citizens have a hidden veto over the Supreme Court. We can’t wait to spring that one on our law students.

Many of those in attendance were wearing American flags in some form or format, which hearkened back to “Easy Rider” and an old Army surplus jacket I wore in high school with an American Flag hanging over the back, covering an embroidered, extended middle finger. Pulling on a string up the sleeve raised the flag.
All in all it was a spaced out morning in the park, but we plan on coming back on 5-20 for the real Tea Party. See you there, Dudes…