Thursday, October 01, 2009

Working On "Golden Pond"

Yes, I'm working as a Director again and also I'm in this play in a small role as a dentist who is afraid of bears and afraid of his fiancee's father, Norman. You can get your tickets to the show online right now at More information available at the Morristown Theatre Guild website

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gorilla Tweets and Space Clowns

It might be called the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and National Park, but the digital world has penetrated it as part of an effort to raise awareness for the fading population of mountain gorillas in Uganda.

Launched Saturday, the "Friend A Gorilla" campaign is using Twitter and Facebook and blogs to provide constant daily information about the gorillas. Using GPS tracking, users can follow the movements of as many gorillas as they would like -- all for a fee of course.

Wild animal Twitter and wild animal Facebook updates are sure to rise now. (In a world of 24-hour possum and raccoon cam websites, why not gorillas?)

In other odd tech/science news, the founder of Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberte, is headed to the International Space Station for an unusual mission he says is meant to blend art and science and environmental issues. Dubbed the "space clown" by the press, Laliberte says he's very serious ... mostly.

This [nose] is a symbol of my mission, but it is also what reminds me that I should never forget that once I was a kid," Laliberte said. "I'm not a professional cosmonaut, an astronaut, so what I'm bringing up there is what I am. And what I am is an artist, a creative.

We're doing a multimedia event - the first one from space to Earth - including artists from all over the world talking about the situation of water."

In addition to his passion for the arts, Laliberte has nurtured a passion for social issues. In 2007, he founded the non-profit ONE DROP Foundation to fight poverty by advocating for sustainable access to safe water. Laliberte donated $100 million of his own money to the organization, which uses dance, art, music and acrobatics to communicate water issues.

"Water is a vital resource for a human being and unfortunately it is put in danger," Laliberte said. "In the near future there is a real problem in front of us in regards of access to clean water."

Limited Online Access to Local Government

Sunshine Review is a website tracking transparency in government and it also compiles state by state reviews on how much information is available to the public via local and state government websites. Tennessee has a token presence online but more than one-third of the counties don't even have a website (35 counties have no website).

Hamblen County scores an "F" for their website, despite some recent improvements (more on those new changes is here at noe4acccountability). UPDATE: Speaking with County Mayor David Purkey, he points out there are several errors in the Sunshine Review evaluation, noting that the most recent county audits are available via the Hamblen County website, which the SR scores incorrectly, also that vendor info is available. Other improvements are underway but Purkey again pointed out that the scoring had old information and was not current.

Statewide, the current status of online information has plenty of gaps:

  • 21 Tennessee counties put their budgets on their websites.
  • 23 counties include information on their websites about public government meetings.
  • 51 include information about the county's elected officials.
  • 56 include information about the county's administrative officials.
  • 12 give information about permits and zoning in the county.
  • 16 of the counties put information on their websites about audits that the county government has had performed.
  • None of the counties provide information about their contracts with county vendors.
  • None of the county websites disclose whether or not they belong to any taxpayer-funded lobbying associations.
  • None of the counties provide information on how to request public records using the Tennessee Open Records Act.
  • 16 county websites provide some information about county taxes.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Southern 'Birther" Infomercial Scam

The bizarre anti-Obama madness about his birth certificate took a new twist this week as a 28-minute infomercial hit the airwaves in seven Southern states, including Chattanooga, TN. The pitch for this slab of strangeness comes from one Gary Kreep .... yes, Kreep is his name. He claims for a mere $30 from your pocket, he can send some faxes out demanding a copy of President Obama's birth certificate. Oh and you get a free bumper sticker too.

Talking Points Memo has some video from this scam.

The guy at the center of the informercial is a California lawyer named Gary Kreep, the head of something called the United States Justice Foundation. But it turns out this is not the first time TPMmuckraker has come across the work of the aptly named Kreep.

Back in March 2008 we found him running a robocall operation called the Republican Majority Campaign, then running a scattershot campaign of robocalls against both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The RMC also seemed awfully similar to and had a lot of weird connections to those bogus groups has-been Republican luminary Linda Chavez and her husband had recently been discovered running -- the ones that actually did little to nothing in the way of political work but provided Chavez and her family a steady income."

Self-serving money-grubbing for paranoid delusional right-wingers? Guess that is nothing new.

But the ever-rising hatefulness about the president has some eerie coincidences to the angry and eventually deadly screeching which surrounded President Kennedy back in the early 1960s.