Showing posts with label news. Show all posts
Showing posts with label news. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Saturday, July 9, 2016

This Week's Tragedy in Dallas and Beyond


As a record of what occurred this week -

Alton Sterling, an African American man, was killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana by two police officers during an arrest.  Witnesses and video of the incident indicate that the police were unwarranted in the shooting, that Sterling was upset but not able to resist - and the video definitely shows an immobile Sterling shot at point blank range by the officers.

In Minnesota, Philandro Castile, another African American man, was shot and killed by a police officers while reaching for identification while seated in his car with his girlfriend and a 4 year old child.  Castile's girlfriend live-streamed the video of what occurred to Facebook.  The video is available on YouTube and other locations as of this writing.

Thursday, 7/7, peaceful protests were scheduled in most major population centers, part of what has become known as #blacklivesmatter, a movement intended to draw attention to the unjustly assumed guilt,lives lost to police bullets, and the situation of African Americans in the United States in regards to overly violent responses of police especially in cases involving Black men and women.  

On Thursday evening, as the protest march drew to a close in Dallas, Texas around 8:45 P.M., a sniper began firing from the rooftops, striking 11 officers and killing five.  In the chaos, no civilians were injured, one man was briefly mistaken as a suspect and then cleared, and three wound up in custody and the/ a gunman was killed by police in the early morning hours of 7/8.

The sniper was targeting white officers, and details are still coming out about his background (but less, so far, about the three others held in custody).

To add to the confusion, the police used a remote controlled robotic device mounted with a bomb to approach and kill the gunman and bring the threat to a definite conclusion.

In short, it's been an awful week.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

It's all about The Harriets: Harriet Tubman replaces Andrew Jackson on the Twenty Dollar Bill


Late Edit:  A more full story in the NYT tells me some of what you see below isn't entirely correct.  Looks like MLK, Sojourner Truth, Susie B. and Eleanor Roosevelt all made the cut in their own way.

Though the changes seem to take place infrequently, the US Currency does, in fact, change over time.  Bills don't look the same way they did when I was in college, and I couldn't tell you what's on the back of a quarter, because I don't think they've printed two alike in 10 years as they've been featuring imagery connected with all 50 states.

A couple of years ago, someone noticed that US currency, when it carried a depiction of a human, was adorned almost entirely with the images of old, dead white men.  That's the way its been my whole life, and - as a white guy, I hadn't thought about it a tremendous amount, or any more than I think about why they use yellow in the middle of a road or why Wendy's Hamburgers are square.  That's just a thing that was that way when I showed up.  The only real challenge to this notion has been the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin and the not-much-used Sacagawea coin, which I only get as change from vending machines.  But on our paper currency?  White dudes.  Just like movies starred white dudes and looking at most of Congress?  White.  Dudes.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Murder on the University of Texas Campus



Waller Creek runs alongside and through the University of Texas campus.  At all points, it's been left alone, one of the few places where a narrow strip of "what was" winds and trickles between buildings and along roads, a narrow grove of trees surrounding it on both sides for the entire run.  It's not just a ditch or arroyo.  It's a deep cleft in the earth, ten feet down or more in most spaces.

When I was a student living in Jester Dorm, we all took a shortcut from the parking lot a fair distance from the dorm, where we'd have to descend into the wooded creekbed, hop across the rocks poking out of the water in our Doc Martens and Adidas, and then mount the steep rise to pop back out of the treeline and onto the athletic field backed up to the monstrosity that was my home for a year.  There, the creek ran wide and shallow.  Twenty-odd years later, a bridge spans that area.

Further toward MLK, the creek runs even more deep and wide, and I've seen exotic fisher birds standing at the water's edge, odd and out of place with five lanes of traffic on the bridge running by them 20 yards away and 13 story dorms looming in the background, but a reminder that this creek is part of the world, that the campus came long afterward, and may well be here long after the buildings are torn down and the people all gone.  

A couple hundred feet from my freshman-year short-cut, Waller Creek also runs behind The Alumni Center, a facility conveniently located across a wide street from Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium.  The Alumni Center is a low-slung facility, lodge-like, great for banquets and housing the loyal donors on gameday, windows facing the trees reaching up out of the creekbed.  This intersection also includes a classroom building for the Fine Arts as well as the Performing Arts building.



On Monday morning, the UT Austin Police, alerted by a roommate to the fact a freshman was missing, began searching for the missing student.  Around 10:30AM Tuesday, police found the student in Waller Creek behind the Alumni Center.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Attacks in Belgium


We'd be remiss if we did not mention the attacks in Belgium in the wake of the capture of terrorists earlier this week.

The cowardice of these attacks and the hopeless attempts to frighten civilized peoples are shameful and an insult to any decency.  Strength of character and reason prevail.

Friday, February 26, 2016

A Short Stay in Houston: Old Pals, Work Stuff, a GOP Debate




This week I was in Houston for a short conference at which I presented.  A nice, friendly little conference we have once a year with folks that have known each other a while, and where new folks are usually made to feel very welcome.

I was staying at the hotel on campus, a Hilton commissioned by the late, great Conrad Hilton as part of the hotel management school at the University of Houston that bears his name.  During the conference, the candidates for the Republican party were slated to have a debate on the other end of campus, but CNN had set up adjacent to the library.  So, yes, yesterday I saw the back of Anderson Cooper's magnificently silver head.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

If you see me on the news, it's going to be because I followed my lesser angels



So, a while back I scheduled myself to be at a conference at the University of Houston.  It's a small, local conference and important to my professional community.

And, ha ha, that is the same campus at the same time where the Republican Party has scheduled it's next debate.  That's right.  As I'm eating the most-food like substance librarian money can buy and talking about the excitement of Thesis and Dissertation workflow over a glass of iced tea, somewhere on that same campus, Trump, Rubio and Cruz will be hollering at each other.

It's gonna be a disaster.

I was working at Arizona State University when President Bush and Senator Kerry had a debate on campus, and it was one of the worst days at that job.  And that was a job where I pulled all-nighters and 100 hour weeks.  Basically, it was super loud and crazy on campus, and I failed to leave early (because I was working.  Like a chump.) and it took me two hours to get home as a post 9-11 Secret Service thought it wise to shut down all the useful roads.

So, we'll see what's up.  Could be fine, but I'm staying at a hotel on campus that I assume will be filled with press and party faithful, so, if I get no sleep Wednesday or Thursday night, I blame the free-wheeling ways of an overly-excited bunch of political conservatives loaded up on Pixie Sticks and too many sodas.

Basically, I'm saying - I may go dark for a few days.  Unless, of course, I see a news camera.  In which case - LOOK FOR ME.  Then, send bail.  Because I have a LOT to say about this election cycle.  Also: workflow for theses and dissertations.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Tragedy in Paris



Like all of you, I am furious to read about the terrorist attacks in Paris.  May all free nations unite to fight and end this barbarity.

We're with France.  May the U.S. always remember the great debt we owe France, and always be among the first to lend aid.

Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité

Saturday, June 27, 2015

This Moment In History: Supreme Court Rules for Equality for Same-Sex Marriage

Taking a break from pop-culture commentary and irrelevant minutia to reflect on the overall cultural thunderstrike that came across the internet this morning.  The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, has legalized same-sex marriage in the United States.  

No doubt the armies of lawyers and pundits are lining up to stoke the fires and make some money off good old fashioned rage.  It's to be expected.  But today I think we broke through another barrier.  We abandoned separate rules for a class of our citizenry for a common definition of the most important conscious relationship most people ever enter.


I am aware not all of my readership shares my belief that this ruling reflects part of America's steady progress in recognizing the rights of all its citizens.  Here I have to break with you, but I hope you know, it's with an olive branch extended.  Recognizing the equality of love between two people as they define that relationship, not hemmed in by concepts of gender or adherence to non-legal codes, whether the Supreme Court had stepped in or not, seems to me an act of human decency.  At the heart of that of all of this is the word "love", and it seems that a victory for love should only be amplified by an extension of some of the same with an open hand rather than a closed fist.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Tragedy in South Carolina

What can you say in the face of this kind of horror?  

Today is a day to mourn.  Tomorrow and afterward, we need to be better and to never, ever take another excuse nor tolerate the terrorizing and murder of our fellow citizens by anyone.

Speak up.  Say something.  We're a better nation than this.  Humanity is better.



Remember Charleston.  Remember every injustice.  No more excuses.  No more silence.  We shouldn't have returned to the methods and hatred of the 1960's in our lifetime.  Make it a better tomorrow.

Monday, March 23, 2015

When Little Kids Wear the "S" and do it better than anything in the comics

Today this video made it across my path via social media.  It's a video about a kid in Detroit who has started a charity that provides food, clothing and necessary articles to the people of his city.  He's a kid who puts on a cape and the Superman "S" when he's at work.  The adults (and kids) who are helping him are similarly decked out in Superman gear, an easy and inexpensive get these days.

The video was part of a recent student film festival at the White House.  The video is short and it's worth a view.



Unrelated, these little girls were part of the Science Fair at the White House.



Here's what's on the White House website about why the girls are there.

Emily Bergenroth, Alicia Cutter, Karissa Cheng, Addy Oneal, and Emery Dodson, 6 (Tulsa, OK)After chatting with their school librarian, the “Supergirls” Junior FIRST Lego League Team from Daisy Girl Scouts’ troop 411 discovered that some people have disabilities that make it difficult to turn the pages of a book. They came up with the concept of a battery-powered page turner that could turn pages for people who are paralyzed or have arthritis. The Supergirls sketched out a design concept and culled through motorized Lego components and gears to figure out how to build a working prototype. They discovered that the friction from rubber Lego tires could be used to lift and turn the pages of a book. They honed the device with a second motorized component that forces pages to lay flat after being turned over. The Supergirls’ creation was selected by the statewide FIRST program director to be the only project exhibited at an educational conference for librarians and educators in the region.


These are some amazing kids, and I think it's not a mistake that their parents and families, no doubt a bit insulated from the fact that DC Comics has launched a "New 52" (that even now they're backing away from) wanted to put the capes and the shield on these kids.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Je suis Charlie


There's nothing much to add to the discussion.  Freedom of expression is a hard earned right, and on the long curve of human history - a new one from a species that tends to silence the ones asking questions.

I am sorry for the tragedy, and heartened by the collective response of the free world to such a cowardly, uncivilized affront to our principles.

Monday, May 20, 2013

No Post Today

Sadly, I've no pearls of wisdom to bestow upon you.

Just...  nothing really going on.  Did some reading.  Watched more of the North America documentary.  Exercised.  And, of course, watched the news.

Let's all wish the best for those in the Oklahoma City area, particularly Moore.  I'm heartbroken to hear of the deaths reported from the scene.



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Taking a night - blast in West, Texas

Man, this week.

As you may have heard, there has been an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, a town Texans are familiar with as its on the I-35 corridor between Austin and Dallas, and home to the locally famous Czech Stop (we have a long history of Czech communities in Texas).

As of now, reports are coming in that there are over one-hundred injured and possibly dozens dead.

Red Cross and emergency crews are headed to West from all over.  Twitter-pal Ruiz mentioned he knows his workplace sent crews to the scene.

This was a terrible accident, and not the insanity of the Boston bombings, but it's damaged a huge part of a town here in Texas.  Obviously.

We're going to take a pass on blogging further tonight.


Monday, April 15, 2013

With Boston, With Us All

My former co-worker and pal, Octavio, ran in the Boston Marathon today.  It was how I found out anything was happening.  His message on facebook basically read "Not sure what happened at the finish line, but Johanna and I are okay."

And I am grateful that the first thing I knew about what was happening in Boston was that despite the fact that something clearly very bad had happened (and I understood the scale within a minute or two), the one person I knew who could have been right there was all right.

Like all of you, I spent the afternoon trying to work, but really checking news sites and social media, wincing a bit at the folks who clearly came on line to post and had no idea what was happening in the world as they did so.  It's a forgivable faux pas in 2013, and I'm not sure that the fact that we've seen it before makes me feel better.

I scrolled through quotes from Mr. Rogers and the other messages shared on Facebook over and over, or retweeted on the twitters until it became an echo chamber.  In any other case, it might be one of those things that drives you nuts, but here, today, it's psychic armor.

We're learning, too.

Folks out there in the social media reminded each other not to let the media's early reports rush us like cattle into those narrow chutes of narrative.  And somehow we agreed it was all right to not have answers immediately.

We're getting good at this, and I'm not sure that's ideal, but it's better than the talking heads and the pointing fingers (pointing the finger of blame for our karmic retribution seems remote and archaic).  Since we saw the Federal building smoldering in Oklahoma City, us Gen Xers have known the feeling in the pit of our stomachs that our parents knew from the assassinations and disasters we saw in movies and read about in class.  These days, all of us know how to brace ourselves as cable news goes berserk, the internet lights up and, in the first 24 hours, stories pretending to be facts get passed in front of us like a shell game.

We know the score.  Maybe not exactly when it happens in our doorway, but we know it when it when the push alerts come though, the emails arrive and that casual look at a headline stops us in our tracks.  

Whether for political reasons or otherwise, the cowardice and cruelty of the bombing is infused with the self-absorbed fantasies of the men who've flown planes into buildings, shot up elementary schools and movie theaters, delivered by someone believing themselves a protagonist in a delusional narrative who honestly believes that somehow the murder of innocent people fulfills some story in their head in which they are a hero.

It doesn't matter what the perpetrator believed they were achieving - they failed.  What I saw were police literally running into action, paramedics and doctors who signed up for the marathon who thought they might get case of dehydration during the race finding themselves in an unthinkable situation, demonstrating what it means to have decency and courage.  Athletes who went from running 26 miles to donate blood.  Bystanders leaping into action to assist the wounded.  People opening their homes to take in those who were stranded.

Tonight, baseball was played.  People carried on.  We might have a few months of some folks who have second thoughts about joining crowds in public, bags taken into a stadium might get a second look, or we might have a few new procedures for security to follow, but whatever they thought they were doing, the attacker gained nothing and just managed to show us, one more time, what people can be when times when times turn dark, no matter how abruptly.

Tonight, tomorrow, for as long as it takes, we're all with Boston, and for the good in us that I truly believe will always shine in these moments of darkness.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

For Pope Benedict as he departs office

Apparently, in 2005, I welcomed Pope Benedict XVI to the job with this post...

So, so much has changed since 2005.

We lost Jackson, YouTube became a thing you could embed....

As Pope Ben leaves office, let's hear it one more time...



That's right, I've been blogging longer than a Pope's tenure in office.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Orson Scott Card Conundrum - Social Ideals and The Purchase of a Superman Comic

All right, here we go.

I don't really want to write this post, but it's about Superman, it's in the news, etc..

Famed Sci-Fi writer Orson Scott Card has some social views that are well known within the comics and sci-fi "communities".  Card has written some highly successful work such as the famed Ender's Game (which I haven't read), and started working in comics a bit with Ultimate Iron Man several years ago now (also - haven't read).

Specifically, Card takes issue with homosexuality and gay marriage.  He sits on the board of an organization that is more or less dedicated to opposing gay marriage in the US, the National Organization for Marriage.

Last week, when the new Adventures of Superman was announced, Card was listed among the writers, and (if you're keeping score), specifically, he was one of the creators associated with the project that made me blink a bit while reviewing the roster of talent.

Full disclosure:  I am fully in support of marriage rights for the LGBT community and believe that this is the civil rights issue of our generation.  Fundamentally, I believe in extending the same legal privileges to all consenting adults in a free society, and am against legal loopholes or half-measures that would place legal or social restrictions on someone based upon race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.  </ lefty boilerplate>

The questions then arise:

Friday, January 11, 2013

Siegel/ Superman Case Seems to Wrap It Up (For Now)

According to the articles I read Thursday, Warner Bros. is back to owning/ maintaining/ safeguarding with an army of lawyers - the rights to Superman, more or less as we've always known the character.  A judge somewhere far, far up the court system food chain (but not the Supreme Court) invalidated a 2008 decision to give the Siegel family many rights - essentially anything that had appeared in Action Comics #1 - and reverted the rights to Superman based upon a 2001 agreement that was more or less a "here's a pile of cash as a royalty" deal.

I won't get into the legal maneuvering too much, but it is a sordid, weird tale with attorneys with shady motivations, break-in's at law offices and all sorts of nonsense.  As this whole process has gone on and on, nobody in this has come out a hero, and it seems like the Siegels will get a bundle of money, but not the rights to Superman.*

I have stated before that the Superman comics have been a bit of a disaster in The New 52 because so much of the character was going to be affected if WB lost the case.  They had some part of Superman, just as the Siegels would have a very raw version of Superman.  They had an alien character with exciting powers and the highly licensable Superman shield.  But what else?

By virtue of owning Action Comics #1, the Siegels might have owned things like:

Friday, December 14, 2012

A moment of silence

My thoughts are with the families of Sandy Hook Elementary and Newtown, Connecticut.

There are no words, and so I'll not try to provide them.  Take a moment for the families, and one for your loved ones.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

TX Panhandle, TX Secession and the Freakout in Comic Culture over CosPlay Girls

For some reason, I am in the Texas Panhandle.

It's work related.  In theory, I should be home in 48 hours.

It is safe to say I am about done with the schedule I've been on for the past 6 weeks or so and the Thanksgiving Holiday cannot really come fast enough.  I could really use some time just laying very still while someone else makes cornbread stuffing and lets me silently appreciate the Rockettes during their number at the Macy's Parade.

if loving the Rockettes is wrong, I don't want to be right

TX Secession

I know it made headlines, but the petition sent to the White House and chatter about Texas seceding is all that it is.  Chatter.  The petition doesn't have enough signatures to fill half of DKR Memorial Stadium, and a whole lot of those aren't from Texas.  I expect that in the years to come "secession" will be the pouty rallying cry of Texans wishing they could take their ball and go home when things don't go the way of insignificant politians from scrubby, backwater towns in The Lone Star State (seriously, press, stop giving these people a megaphone).