Abject Outage: Day 4

We continue our intensive coverage of what has now become known as The Great Abject Outage of Aught Thirteen.

It has now been 4 days since Brian Lamb closed down his Internet newsletter, or Webb-Log, leaving only this cryptic message:

Screen Shot 2013 02 12 at 8 04 41 AM

509 BANDWIDTH LIMIT EXCEEDED.

There was no further explanation. Cryptographic and steganographic analysis of the message have turned up no clues. There is no indication of what is meant by the number “509”. Is it a prophesy of the number of days until Mr. Lamb will return? A portion of a numbered Swiss bank account? An area code? If so, it suggests that Lamb and his followers may be hiding in the Cascade mountains of America, a short drive south from his last known hideout.

His followers, now lost and confused without his daily missives, have been holding nightly candlelight vigils in an attempt to make sense of Lamb’s opaque message. Some describe it as a symptom of existential crisis, that Chairman Lamb has, to use the words of one devotee who asked to remain anonymous, “flown too close to the sun.”

Others point out that this is likely not the case, as Lamb is most certainly human, or post-human, and likely has no innate capacity for flight.

After reaching one follower in his compound in the state of Virginia, wherever the hell that is, I mean is that even a real place?, Reverend Jim had only this to say: “Bandwidth exceeded? What kind of bullshit is that? I want the TRUTH! I AM THE TRUTH!”

Um. Ok.

We were able to contact another follower, identified only as “Cogg Dogg”, in an airport at an undisclosed location. When asked about the Abjectopalypse, Mr. Dogg said “Look. Freak. I’ve told you like 20 times already. I don’t know. Probably just something on his server or something. I’m busy, man. These GIFs don’t make themselves.”

Two generals of The Abject Army. Leaderless. Dazed. Confused. Trying to cope in any way they know how. GIFturbating relentlessly, endlessly, and apparently tirelessly, in a futile attempt to fill the void left by the apparent closure of Lamb’s news-letter.

And still, we are left wondering about the meaning of the cryptic message. Bandwidth exceeded. Indeed, our collective bandwidth has been exceeded.

Join us tomorrow, for what will likely be Day 5 of this long, global tragedy. Mr. Lamb, why have you foresaken us in our time of need? Our roving reporters are en route to the rugged mountains northeast of Kamloops BC, where Chairman Lamb was last spotted. It is rumoured that he has been hiding in this mountainous region, perhaps in a secluded cave or even, some have gone so far as to speculate, in the home of an Abject sympathizer.

Update: As of 9:19am Pacific, our long global nightmare is over. Abject is now back online.

earth day sucks – piece on The National

I was interviewed yesterday by Reg Sherren for a piece that aired on CBC’s The National on Earth Day 2010. It didn’t turn out as bad as I feared, but he had me read the blog post he found, and the result sounded a bit stiff and scripted. Still, I think it worked out OK. The bit starring your humble and unqualified blogger starts about 2 minutes into the clip:

interviewed

I was interviewed by Reg Sherren for the CBC National News. He called me about a blog post I wrote in 2008 on my dislike of Earth Day, and we talked about some of the issues (greenwashing, real sustainable change, how a one day event may be short circuiting real change, etc…)

Then he had me read the first part of the post. I hope that’s not the only segment of the interview they use – ranting blogger rants! Film at 11!

photo used by CBC News

It’s a sad story, but still pretty cool that one of my photos (released under a CC:by license) was used by CBC News. I got a call this afternoon from the reporter asking if they could use the photo. I said of course, and started to explain CC:by, when she commented that she knows about Creative Commons and just likes to notify people when they use photos. So she went above and beyond (she could have just used the Flickr mail feature) and looked up my office phone number to ask me directly.

Agents Provocateurs

This week, at the North American Leaders Summit in Montebello, Quebec, 3 undercover police officers pretended to be protesters in an attempt to provoke violent incidents. The entire series of events was captured on video, and shared via YouTube. The cops are the three goons with bandanas over their faces. None of the real protesters wore disguises. One of the cops is carrying a rock.

Agents Provocateurs with a rock

Agent provocateur with a rock in his right hand.

The real protesters intervene, trying to prevent violence. Somehow, they realize that the agents provocateurs are cops, and accuse them of that. The fake protesters stop dead in their tracks, and one of them can be seen leaning over and talking with one of the uniformed riot police – over the riot shield – and shortly afterward, the three “protesters” are yanked out, “arrested” and carried to the safety of the police side of the line.

The Quebec Provincial Police have admitted that the 3 “protesters” were cops in disguise.

Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada (and, one can only hope, future Prime Minister of Canada) wrote a description of the event on her blog (the Green website is Drupal, by the way…) Similar events allegedly happened in Seattle and Quebec City. Police either staging or allowing violence in order to justify cracking down on protesters.

This is unacceptable. I expect all police officers involved in this action to be summarily fired. And the entire chain of command, up to whoever ordered this. We can’t stand for our police forces to be instigating violence. Thankfully this didn’t happen this time. But it was damned close.

As a Canadian citizen, I demand an inquiry. I demand it to be public and open. And I expect for this to never, ever happen again. We are above this.

What scares me is this – what would have happened without YouTube to get the video out? There was video taken at Seattle and Quebec City, but it stayed on analog tape and didn’t get as widely circulated. This is why “Web 2.0” is important. Never mind personal publishing for cat blogging, and ego surfing and identity management. The reason Web 2.0 is changing the world is by putting the power back into the hands of individuals. Democracy is mass media, in action.

Death of a Dictator

I had a long post written up about the execution of Saddam Hussein. I decided at the last minute to not click the “Submit” button. But, my friend Niran wrote up an eloquent post that says it much more clearly.

One thing I’d add is this: I’m truly curious about the proportion of the American population that think Saddam was executed as part of the War on Terror, or to grant democracy in Iraq. His execution had nothing to do with either (no WMDs have ever been found, and execution by a foreign power – even through a fledgling local puppet government – is no way to instill democracy).

I had a long post written up about the execution of Saddam Hussein. I decided at the last minute to not click the “Submit” button. But, my friend Niran wrote up an eloquent post that says it much more clearly.

One thing I’d add is this: I’m truly curious about the proportion of the American population that think Saddam was executed as part of the War on Terror, or to grant democracy in Iraq. His execution had nothing to do with either (no WMDs have ever been found, and execution by a foreign power – even through a fledgling local puppet government – is no way to instill democracy).

Thailand coup, as told by Flickr users

My brother has a house in Phuket, Thailand, so I've been trying to follow news on this week's coup to see what's going on. I had no idea there was an ongoing corruption scandal of that magnitude. It seems unclear whether this coup was a good or bad thing. Some people say it's bad because it's "against democracy" – others say it's good because it gives a chance to reboot a democracy after cleaning out the garbage first.

I'd been following the story via Wikinews, which has been more useful than local/national newscasts. And then I stumbled across the Flickr coverage, linked from the Flickr Blog. They assembled photos from various Flickr users located in Bangkok, added audio from an interview with one of the photographers, and the result is a very powerful photographic slideshow.

Thailand Coup, told by Flickr users Thailand Coup, told by Flickr users

In our North American State of Heightened Alertness, I doubt we’d be allowed to freely pose for photographs with active tanks in the streets, if such a thing happened on this side of the Pacific…

My brother has a house in Phuket, Thailand, so I've been trying to follow news on this week's coup to see what's going on. I had no idea there was an ongoing corruption scandal of that magnitude. It seems unclear whether this coup was a good or bad thing. Some people say it's bad because it's "against democracy" – others say it's good because it gives a chance to reboot a democracy after cleaning out the garbage first.

I'd been following the story via Wikinews, which has been more useful than local/national newscasts. And then I stumbled across the Flickr coverage, linked from the Flickr Blog. They assembled photos from various Flickr users located in Bangkok, added audio from an interview with one of the photographers, and the result is a very powerful photographic slideshow.

Thailand Coup, told by Flickr users Thailand Coup, told by Flickr users

In our North American State of Heightened Alertness, I doubt we’d be allowed to freely pose for photographs with active tanks in the streets, if such a thing happened on this side of the Pacific…

Who’s evacuating the Lebanese civilians?

With the big brouhaha about the evacuation of Canadian (and American, and British, and French, etc…) civilians from Lebanon, I think we're all kind of missing the point.

There are 50,000 Canadian citizens in Lebanon right now. The Canadian government has had to rent some cruise ships to ferry them to Cyprus and/or Turkey for further evacuation by air. The process is taking longer than many would like, but our people are being transported out of the danger zone. Prime Minister Stephen Harper even used his PM Airbus (our version of Air Force One) to ferry a few Canadian civilians out (Stephen, that was a classy move. The only thing that would have topped that, since you were already in the area, would have been to clear everyone off of the plane, fill it to the gills with civilians, and wait for it to return with backup).

But, what about the Lebanese civilians? Are they officially to be left behind? If it's too dangerous for a North American or European civilian, why is it considered an acceptable risk for the 3.5 million innocent civilians that happen to live in the region?

I may be extremely naiive, but this really seems like a perfect candidate for the UN blue helmets to move in and help restore order. Likely a much better allocation of military and humanitarian resources than securing oil supplies to maintain a particular hegemony…

With the big brouhaha about the evacuation of Canadian (and American, and British, and French, etc…) civilians from Lebanon, I think we're all kind of missing the point.

There are 50,000 Canadian citizens in Lebanon right now. The Canadian government has had to rent some cruise ships to ferry them to Cyprus and/or Turkey for further evacuation by air. The process is taking longer than many would like, but our people are being transported out of the danger zone. Prime Minister Stephen Harper even used his PM Airbus (our version of Air Force One) to ferry a few Canadian civilians out (Stephen, that was a classy move. The only thing that would have topped that, since you were already in the area, would have been to clear everyone off of the plane, fill it to the gills with civilians, and wait for it to return with backup).

But, what about the Lebanese civilians? Are they officially to be left behind? If it's too dangerous for a North American or European civilian, why is it considered an acceptable risk for the 3.5 million innocent civilians that happen to live in the region?

I may be extremely naiive, but this really seems like a perfect candidate for the UN blue helmets to move in and help restore order. Likely a much better allocation of military and humanitarian resources than securing oil supplies to maintain a particular hegemony…

Impeachable Offense

2 words that are now synonymous with “Happy Holidays” – I first read about the uproar over SpyGate via Stephen’s NewsTrolls service. Then, I’ve heard it several times since then on American TV networks. On freaking TV.

So, an “elected” president apparently tramples the constitution, giving the nod for government agencies to spy on citizens just in case they might be doing something bad – without the need for judicial review or approval. And, that’s being acknowledged by Bush’s own people as an impeachable offence – with the story broken in the Traditional Media by the New York Times.

Maybe there’s hope, after all… If this story gets large enough, it can’t be ignored (even by Shrub). If it doesn’t make it to full impeachment status, at least it will make the next election a bit more interesting. But, with Bush not able to run again, maybe that’s a moot point…

Happy holidays, indeed!

Update: Now BoingBoing is pointing to a Miami Herald article that describes the Bush wiretap approvals as doing something that Bin Laden could not have done – erode the constitution and spread fear throughout the entire country, in the name of a president-come-king. It’s great when fearmongers are able to leverage synergy to amplify effect… (yeah – I used corporate marketing buzzwords to describe the business relationship between Bush and Bin Laden)

2 words that are now synonymous with “Happy Holidays” – I first read about the uproar over SpyGate via Stephen’s NewsTrolls service. Then, I’ve heard it several times since then on American TV networks. On freaking TV.

So, an “elected” president apparently tramples the constitution, giving the nod for government agencies to spy on citizens just in case they might be doing something bad – without the need for judicial review or approval. And, that’s being acknowledged by Bush’s own people as an impeachable offence – with the story broken in the Traditional Media by the New York Times.

Maybe there’s hope, after all… If this story gets large enough, it can’t be ignored (even by Shrub). If it doesn’t make it to full impeachment status, at least it will make the next election a bit more interesting. But, with Bush not able to run again, maybe that’s a moot point…

Happy holidays, indeed!

Update: Now BoingBoing is pointing to a Miami Herald article that describes the Bush wiretap approvals as doing something that Bin Laden could not have done – erode the constitution and spread fear throughout the entire country, in the name of a president-come-king. It’s great when fearmongers are able to leverage synergy to amplify effect… (yeah – I used corporate marketing buzzwords to describe the business relationship between Bush and Bin Laden)

Global National TV Newscast is Podcasting

Global National newscast podcastKevin Newman has been mentioning Global National’s podcasting project for the last couple of weeks, but I only checked it out on Monday. This could be one of the coolest things to happen to Mass Media and podcasting so far this year. The entire audio portion of the Global National newscast is available via a podcast subscription, with only a minor delay after it goes to air (they do have to encode/publish the audio of the live newscast). It’s also available directly from the iTunes directory.

I listened to Monday’s show on the way home from work Tuesday (I missed it “live”) and it was great! The 30 minute newscast distilled down to 22 minutes of content (no commercials). It was a combination newscast and open microphone forum at a university in Toronto. Content that is harder to get from “traditional” podcasts (how ironic is that?)

I really hope they keep this project going!

Global National has been experimenting with this stuff for a while now – it looks like each of their key reporters was given a blog sometime in the summer, with the predictable results that usually happen when someone is “given a blog” – about one post per month, orphaned blogs for several months, then periodic posting. Also, I just tried to subscribe to feeds for a few of the blogs, and there doesn’t appear to be any RSS feeds (so, it’s not really a blog in my mind). I’ll be subscribing as soon as that’s fixed.

But the podcasting project may just be sustainable – it’s only a minor additional step in the show production workflow, and could largely be automated.

Kudos, Global National!

Update: I just read through a few posts on Kevin Newman’s blog and it’s so refreshing to read the unpolished, unmassaged, “risky” published thoughts/insights/rants of a Big Media Personality. I’ve trusted Kevin’s reportage since he started at Global National, have appreciated his obvious sense of humour in tackling the issues, and now totally respect him for putting himself out there.

Note to Global: your weblog software is teh suck, though. No easy way to navigate through the posts. No RSS feeds. No seaarchability within a blog. Waaay overly NASCARed advertising/branding on the pages, etc… Please, grab a copy of WordPress (or WordPress MultiUser, or Drupal, or Movabletype, or anything) and give the reporters some decent tools so they can do a better job of blogging (and we can follow along – and maybe respond).

Global National newscast podcastKevin Newman has been mentioning Global National’s podcasting project for the last couple of weeks, but I only checked it out on Monday. This could be one of the coolest things to happen to Mass Media and podcasting so far this year. The entire audio portion of the Global National newscast is available via a podcast subscription, with only a minor delay after it goes to air (they do have to encode/publish the audio of the live newscast). It’s also available directly from the iTunes directory.

I listened to Monday’s show on the way home from work Tuesday (I missed it “live”) and it was great! The 30 minute newscast distilled down to 22 minutes of content (no commercials). It was a combination newscast and open microphone forum at a university in Toronto. Content that is harder to get from “traditional” podcasts (how ironic is that?)

I really hope they keep this project going!

Global National has been experimenting with this stuff for a while now – it looks like each of their key reporters was given a blog sometime in the summer, with the predictable results that usually happen when someone is “given a blog” – about one post per month, orphaned blogs for several months, then periodic posting. Also, I just tried to subscribe to feeds for a few of the blogs, and there doesn’t appear to be any RSS feeds (so, it’s not really a blog in my mind). I’ll be subscribing as soon as that’s fixed.

But the podcasting project may just be sustainable – it’s only a minor additional step in the show production workflow, and could largely be automated.

Kudos, Global National!

Update: I just read through a few posts on Kevin Newman’s blog and it’s so refreshing to read the unpolished, unmassaged, “risky” published thoughts/insights/rants of a Big Media Personality. I’ve trusted Kevin’s reportage since he started at Global National, have appreciated his obvious sense of humour in tackling the issues, and now totally respect him for putting himself out there.

Note to Global: your weblog software is teh suck, though. No easy way to navigate through the posts. No RSS feeds. No seaarchability within a blog. Waaay overly NASCARed advertising/branding on the pages, etc… Please, grab a copy of WordPress (or WordPress MultiUser, or Drupal, or Movabletype, or anything) and give the reporters some decent tools so they can do a better job of blogging (and we can follow along – and maybe respond).