Ford’s Theater

September 1st, 2014

We spent the weekend with Kelly’s parents and took the opportunity to visit downtown DC and Ford’s Theater. What a profound experience that turned out to be for me and I’m not really sure why. The building has a somber reverence to it, too, not simply sadness but one of anguish. I felt compelled to remove my hat before I entered. No other museum has ever prompted me to do that.

This is no ordinary museum, though, since it is the site of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. I tingled the whole time I was in there, feeling an unseen energy. At one point touring the basement exhibits, I turned to Hallie and whispered “I feel ghosts are here.” She looked at me curiously and grinned. As I walked among the exhibit displays, I wondered if I might be sensing the spirit of Abraham Lincoln, yet that didn’t seem like the right identification. Thinking about it later, I surmised that the energy I was feeling did not belong to Lincoln but to John Wilkes Booth.

Searching the Internets once I got home, I found this UPI story from 1972 which reported rumors that Booth’s ghost still walks the theater floor. It would not surprise me in the least.

Times Standard, The (Newspaper) – December 20, 1972, Eureka, California

Some Blame Booth’s Ghost For Bad ‘Vibes’ at Ford’s
Wednesday, December 20, 1972 Page 23
By PAMELA M. LAKRATT

WASHINGTON (UP1) For theater people there have always been “bad vibes” before that curses, hexes, shadows on stage followed by bad reviews the next day.

But at Ford’s Theater, the place where Abraham Lincoln was shot, it’s not only the actors who think the ghost of John Wilkes Booth inhabits the premises. Workmen and guards, one spooked so thoroughly he took to the street without trousers, say the booted assassin haunts the scene of his crime. So far no one claims to have seen Booth, but some say he can be both heard and felt in the old building in downtown Washington.
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John A. Walker Jr who spied for Soviet Union dies in prison | Mail Online

August 30th, 2014

John Walker happily sold out the United States to the Soviets for a few bucks. Had there been a conflict with the USSR, we would have been toast, with all of our forces exposed thanks to his treason.

I’m a peace-loving guy but if John Walker had gotten shanked while in prison you wouldn’t have seen my cry. He was the worst shipmate you can imagine, a buddy-fucker who gleefully stabbed his shipmates in the back all for a few bucks.

And, yes, I see a huge difference in the actions of Walker and Snowden. I believe Snowden loves his country and rightfully called it out for training its sights on ordinary Americans. Walker, on the other hand, was a cheap intelligence whore with no apparent morals whatsoever. Prison was too good for him.

A former American sailor convicted during the Cold War of leading a family spy ring for the Soviet Union has died in a prison hospital in North Carolina.Retired Navy Warrant Officer John A. Walker Jr. died Thursday at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke said.The cause of death was not immediately released. He was 77.

via John A. Walker Jr who spied for Soviet Union dies in prison | Mail Online.

Scientists agree: Coffee naps are better than coffee or naps alone – Vox

August 28th, 2014

Fascinating.

If you’re feeling sleepy and want to wake yourself up — and have 20 minutes or so to spare before you need to be fully alert — there’s something you should try. It’s more effective than drinking a cup of coffee or taking a quick nap.It’s drinking a cup of coffee and then taking a quick nap. This is called a coffee nap.It might sound crazy: conventional wisdom is that caffeine interferes with sleep. But if you caffeinate immediately before napping and sleep for 20 minutes or less, you can exploit a quirk in the way both sleep and caffeine affect your brain to maximize alertness. Here’s the science behind the idea.

via Scientists agree: Coffee naps are better than coffee or naps alone – Vox.

My FCC petition supporting Wilson’s challenge

August 28th, 2014

Here’s the comment I just filed with the FCC.

As a tech-savvy, concerned citizen, I watched with incredulity over the years as Time Warner Cable and AT&T worked the N.C. General Assembly in an effort to stymie real broadband competition in North Carolina. Telecom lobbyists sent bills to state representatives without the representatives ever reading the bills. My jaw dropped in a committee meeting as a state senator questioned whether wireless Internet would make fiber Internet obsolete.

The level of falsehoods and fear mongering spread by the telecoms was staggering. Eventually their lobbyists found willing co-consiprators in state representatives and rammed their anti-municipal-broadband bill through the legislature with little or no public comment. North Carolinians got railroaded.
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Wilson asks FCC to override NC law it says shields Time Warner, Comcast | Technology | NewsObserver.com

August 28th, 2014

the N&O’s John Murawski covers Wilson’s petition to the FCC to overturnNorth Carolina’s draconian municipal broadband conditions that were bought and paid for by Big Telecom.

Wilson, one of the few towns in the state that offer high-speed Internet service to residents and businesses, has stewed for three years since the North Carolina legislature put restrictions on municipal broadband.

The Eastern North Carolina town’s officials say they can’t expand their data service, called Greenlight, to nearby communities that have requested the high-speed connection. Greenlight offers residential Internet speeds up to 1 gigabit – or 20 times faster than Time Warner Cable’s fastest household Internet speed.

Now the former tobacco center about an hour east of Raleigh is asking the Federal Communications Commission to override North Carolina’s telecommunications law. The city’s unusual legal claim was made possible only in the past few months, after FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced, through a blog and at an industry conference, that the federal agency will consider pre-empting local laws that stifle broadband competition. Wheeler is one of three Democrats on the five-member commission.

via Wilson asks FCC to override NC law it says shields Time Warner, Comcast | Technology | NewsObserver.com.

Kevin O’Donnell and ALS

August 27th, 2014

With all the attention being paid to ALS with the Ice Bucket Challenge, tonight I thought it might make sense tonight to learn a little more about this disease. I wanted to hear straight from those who are suffering from this disease, so I turned to YouTube.

It was there that I found this series of videos from Kevin O’Donnell, who was diagnosed with ALS in November 2011 and died in June of last year. To watch him struggle as the disease quickly robs him of his speech and movement is shocking and heartbreaking. Clicking on his subsequent videos, I found myself mindlessly rooting for a happy ending, somehow not accepting that ALS is cruel, one-way downward spiral.

Kevin called his video series “Living with ALS,” but it should have been called “Dying with ALS.” What a horrible, horrible disease ALS is. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

80 percent of Time Warner Cable subscribers woke up without Internet this morning. Here’s why. – The Washington Post

August 27th, 2014

Whoopsie.

Time Warner Cable is recovering from a major Internet blackout after network problems led to a sudden disruption of service for all of its broadband subscribers nationwide, the company said Wednesday.

The outage occurred at 4:30 a.m. Eastern time, according to company spokesman Bobby Amirshahi, and knocked out access to the Web for TWC’s 11.4 million residential customers who buy Internet service. That’s nearly 80 percent of Time Warner Cable’s entire residential customer base of 14.4 million.

via 80 percent of Time Warner Cable subscribers woke up without Internet this morning. Here’s why. – The Washington Post.

Update 9:31 PM: TWC says an erroneous IP configuration rollout caused the outage.

Hold the ice

August 24th, 2014

I’ve of course seen many Facebook postings of friends and family doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Our family was even tagged by some to participate. ALS is a good cause and I know my friends and family mean well. We were tagged by them while we were in Jamaica, though, and that got me thinking.

Kelly thought it would be fun to accept the challenge while on the beach but I kept thinking back to what our taxi driver told us the first day we arrived: Jamaica is in the midst of a serious drought. Not only that, I learned that Jamaican electricty cost is over four times what we pay for electricity. What’s worse, that electricity is generated one of the dirtiest way possible: diesel fuel. Did it really make sense to take scarce fresh water, chilled into ice using expensive and dirty fuel, and blithely dump it over our heads?

My eyes were first opened to the problem when I read former Raleigh resident Charles Fishman’s book The Big Thirst, an excellent look at how water scarcity is affecting the planet. We have some of that right here in America, of course, with California getting hard hit. At breakfast yesterday my dad was noting the steep rise in the cost of avocados. Over 90% of avocados consumed in the United States are grown in California. My recent read of all that the Colorado River supports brought home the danger that water shortages bear on our food supply.

I can’t help but think that, while ALS is indeed a worthy cause, so is problem of lack of clean water that’s plaguing the planet. Please forgive me, friends, if I politely decline your challenge.

Here’s a scary gallery of pics that illustrate the extent California drought:

Californians have been feeling the effects of drought for quite some time, with officials ordering water restrictions and pleading for residents to conserve water in all ways possible. Hell, even the "Ice Bucket Challenge" is viewed as controversial in California because it wastes water.Below the fold are some stunning photos that depict just how bad the drought has become in some areas

via Shocking photos: This is what drought looks like.

Back from Jamaica

August 21st, 2014

We got back from our Jamaican vacation late Tuesday night. Since then been too busy to write about it.

I hope to post some thoughts about our trip (and other things) tonight.

Neighborhood kudos

August 7th, 2014

Got this from a neighbor yesterday, thanking me for keeping my neighborhood informed about a rare but troubling string of recent larcenies from cars:

I surely do appreciate all the informative messages lately about the cars getting broken in to. It has made me check mine every night to be sure it’s locked and I keep my porch light turned on now too. Also, I called several neighbors who do not use email and let them know what has been going on. Many many thanks to you.

This makes it all worthwhile.