Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter

    Thursday, October 30, 2008

    5 things to do this weekend, 10.30.08

    1. For starters, if you're looking for something genuinely frightful, you can always go to the Fright at the Fort, the annual haunted extravaganza at Fort Knox in Prospect. From 5:30 to 9 on Friday and Saturday you can get seriously creeped out - and I mean seriously creeped out. They do an amazing job with this one. Admission is $5, and it's best suited for thsoe 12 and over, so maybe don't take the little ones.
    2. If that's not your thing, then try one of the not one, not two, but three midnight screenings of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" in the area on Friday. The Alamo Theatre in Bucksport, the Criterion Theater in Bar Harbor and the Center Theater in Dover-Foxcroft will all show the campy classic at midnight. Bring your underwear, your fishnets, your toast and rice and mascara and do the time warp again. I think everyone, regardless of age, sex or tastes in movies, should go to a midnight screening of "Rocky Horror" at least once in their lives.
    3. Feel like rockin' instead? Check out any of these options on Friday - Irish pub rock with the Bar Stewards at 9:30 p.m. at Paddy Murphy's in Bangor, River Bottom Funk performing two sets of all ACDC and Led Zeppelin, starting at 9:30 at Carolina's, also in Bangor, the Eric Green Party at 9 p.m. at the Bar Harbor Blues Authority, or The Brew at the Unity Centre for the Performing Arts, starting at 8 p.m. All shows encourage people to wear costumes, and with the exception of the Brew, they're all 21 plus. Sorry, kids.
    4. The day after Halloween, check out Paradigm East, one of several belly dance groups in the Bangor area, perform from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Charles Inn in downtown Bangor. It's a special Halloween show, and Paradigm East has a slightly alternative, modern take on Middle Eastern dance, so it should be a spooky, interesting night.
    5. And, rounding out your weekend festivities, weekend two of the Grand Players production of "Dracula," is set for 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, as well as a midnight performance on Friday, at the Grand Theater in Ellsworth. It's a super creepy, super action-packed telling of the classic tale, and it's some perfect late fall fun. Admission is $10; for more info, visit

    Friday, October 24, 2008

    Third session at Pop!Tech, 10.24.08

    Session three starts off with a short computer animated film by Nicholas Deveaux about an elephant jumping on a trampoline. Pretty much the cutest thing ever.

    This session is about peace and reconciliation. N. Taylor Thompson and Nathan Sigworth are up; they have founded PharmaSecure, an organization that seeks to ensure that drugs that combat diseases like malaria are safe, authetic and effective. They say; we'd like to see a world where 200,000 less people have malaria, while the pharmaceutical agencies make billions of dollars more money. Thompson got malaria while working in Africa. He took medicine and got better; millions do the same and die. The medicine that those who do die take has little to no active ingredients. 53% of anti malarial meds in Southeast Asia are fake. WHO says 10-30% of drugs are counterfeit. It's a problem of information access; you can't tell what's real and what's fake. There are plenty of ways to figure that out, but they are expensive. There needs to be a regulatory process.

    Heather Fleming is next, she's the co-founder of Catapult Design which provides engineering resources to third world nations. She grew up without power or water. She tried to get a job in her field; eventually came to Engineers Without Borders, who, like Doctors Without Borders, use engineering and design to provide infrastructure and resources to those who need it. She showed a hippo roller, which allows people in Africa to collect four days worth of water in a single trip; that's what EWB brings to people. Gahndi said, be the change you wish to see in the world; she adds, you must have the courage to be the change you wish to see in the world.

    Gary Slutkin is an epidemiologist, worked in the HIV crisis in Uganda, now at University of Chicago. BUT he now studies human violence in the United States; he approaches it like it's another disease with his organization Pathways to Peace. He sez, the central question is, can we end violence? Yes, if we look at in an entirely new way. We can end it like we did smallpox, leprosy, plague, etc. Kids in Chicago don't want to go to school; people don't want work, businesses don't want to open; because of the intensity of the violence. Violence is a plague. The parallels between the disease plagues of old and the current plague of violence are striking. To an epidemiolgist, diseases and violence appear one and the same. How do you reserve this? 1. You interrupt transmission. For diseases, it's treatment; for violence, it's disrupting the chain of events. 2. You change social norms. Norms can be changed; we don't smoke anymore. We wear seatbelts. We only have a few kids now, as opposed to many. The etiologic agent of violence is thought, just as bacteria spreads plague and viruses spread HIV. Interesting interjection featuring a guy, kind of like a gangbanger type, showing how someone interrupts transmission and changes the norm. That's how it works. Real people get killed, yes, but that's how you work it out. Interrupters come in and cool down the situation, like immunization or disease control workers. It works too; crime has plummeted in Chicago since these programs were put in place. What if we were able to blow it up to scale, to put violence into the past? Not just in cities or gangs, but out towards war and genocide?

    So after all the violence, how do you heal a community? Laura Waters Hinson, director of "As We Forgive," ask the question: could you forgive someone who killed your entire family? "As We Forgive" is a film about forgiving those who have wronged you - even those who's families and friends were slaughtered. Hinson went to Rwanda in 2005. President Paul Kagami released tens of thousands of genocide killers in 2003, to walk the streets with survivors of the genocide. He sets up a traditional court system, where killers and victims alike would gather in communities and try to reconcile with one another. How does something like that take place? How could you possibly forgive someone for doing that? And yet, it happened, and is still happening. As they say, to err is human; to forgive, divine.

    Now it's time for music and ice cream.

    Thoughts on Pop!Tech, midday Friday.

    Things noticed today at Pop!Tech:

    Critical shortage of power outlets. People are wandering around, looking for a place to plug their laptops in. No luck. I myself am going to run out of power in about a half hour. Bummer.

    I sat next to some dock workers at lunch at the Waterfront today. One of them asked me about Pop!Tech, and I showed him my schedule. He said, "Wow, that's some serious &%$#." I agreed.

    I saw Malcolm Gladwell sitting in Boynton McKay's.

    Popped into Wild Rufus Records. Matt sez, "You should check out Amos Lee when he plays tonight." Asked him if business picks up during the conference; he said, "a little bit."

    This is a great place to overhear conversations. Two people behind me are talking about what makes a play or film great; she says the tangible aesthetic qualities, he says the realism. Walking to lunch, two more were talking about the state of nonprofits, and how you differentiate yourself from others so you can stay afloat. Now I'm hearing a lady bitch about the food at our quaint little local restaurants. My Maine blood boils when I hear people from away talk like we're a bunch of slack-jawed yokels. OK. I'm better now.

    I'm surrounded by so much intelligence now I don't even know where to begin.

    Second session at Pop!Tech, 10.24.08

    This year Pop!Tech announces the launch of Project Masiluleke, an initiative harnessing the power of mobile technology to bring critical resources to victims of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in South Africa. Mailuleke means "hope" and "warm counsel" in Zulu, and it brings together partners iTeach, the Praekelt Foundation, frog designs, Nokia Siemens Networks at the National Geographic Society to help establish the program in South Africa. An estimated 40% of the population in South Africa is infected with HIV/AIDS; less than 2 percent have been tested. Project Masiluleke will help that overwhelmingly underserved demographic by allowing them to download information about getting tested and getting treatment to their cell phones. Nearly 90% of South African have access to cell phones; Project Masiluleke will connect those cell phone users with a network of resources.

    Project Masiluleke came out of the connections created at Pop!Tech; it's roots are in the 2006 Pop!Tech, where AIDS in Africa was a key issue. Leetha Filderman of Pop!Tech; Zinny Thabethe, a South African AIDS activist, leader of iTeach, and previous Pop!Tech presenter; Gustav Praekelt of Praekelt Consulting, who created the technology that will mobilize the cell phones; and Robert Fabricant of frog designs all presented today about the project. It's the first effort to come out of the Pop!Tech accelerator, a "social innovation incubator designed to foster breakthrough, interdisciplinary solutions to pressing global challenges." In other words, it's how a design firm, a mobile technology think tank and an activism network in Africa came together to address the AIDS crisis. That's Pop!Tech for you.

    First session at Pop!Tech, 10.24.08

    Kushal Chakrabarti is speaking. He is the founder of the Vittana Foundation, an organization the helps high-achieving students in developing nations gain access to funds for college. He's a Pop!Tech fellow, one of a group of innovative people selected by Pop!Tech to talk about the ways in which their work helps the world - education, peace, medicine, technology, etc.

    Now, we have Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine. I love Wired. The intersection of technology, pop culture and information. Anderson sez, "Every abundance creates new scarcity," paraphrased from Herbert Simon. New scarcities - time, money, happiness ("which money can't buy"), attention and reputation. Non-monetary economics. What would that look like? Measureable, finite and convertible to other economic models. That's the internet. The great equalizer. The playing field is leveled. Google information centers. The hyperlink is the foot in the door for reputation-based economics. Reputation-based economics? The hyperlink is reputation based. You're conferring your reputation for someone else, by linking to them. It's the exchange of reputation and goodwill. It helps you and it helps someone else. Reputation economics builds link by link. Oh, the internet. I could say something about Marxism, but I shall refrain.

    PS Can I just say I hope I meet Malcolm Gladwell. Didn't get to see him yesterday. So sad. Probably my favorite working journalist at the moment. Anyway.

    Now we have Clay Shirky from Digital Freedoms. He sez, Groban, pop rock star, sweet-voiced, emotionally demonstrative and cute, his fans are teenage girls and their grandmas. He couldn't have assembled that audience without the internet on his side. Radio won't play him. Crazy fans - Gronbanites - wanted to get him a birthday present. Pooled money. $75,000 check for the David Foster Foundation. These women were onto something! Asked Josh about it. His lawyers started freaking out. No precendent for this in philanthropy. Lawyers started a 501 (c)3 to "catch the money falling from the sky." Grobanites realized they were good at raising money - didn't need the Groban-approved org. Started Grobanites for Charity. 100% of the donations go to the recipients. The entire thing! Web site looks like 1997. Done by amateurs. Not professionals - done for love. We are used to large institiutions - now we have small, amateur ones. Individual people getting together to do things. Why did the Grobanites separate themselves? Motivation; they were more motivated by doing it on their own, rather than with lawyers and professionals. Community; they all knew each other. Entering an age of digital Krishna consciousness! Ha! Napster made it easy to be generous. Shawn Fanning designed for generosity, making it easy to be generous and making the payoff higher. Our world requires us to be able to share information and ideas freely. The question is - how do you make money? Everything is free. How can our economic model survive this? Web sites are different from businesses. It's generousity. Does it even matter if we can make money off it? Business folks are shocked that people do things like make web sites to share information about cell phones, or pop star fans banding together to raise money for charity, simply because they want to. Not because they want to be rich or famous. How do you design for generosity? There is no recipe. It just happens. Create an environment in which such things flourish. Fame and love are not on the same dial. People are not an aggregated bag of individual motivations, but people with love and desire and kindness.

    Another intejection: I was 20 minutes late to this because there was a crazy roadblock in Prospect. Some guy brandished a gun at a cop in Searsport, and now there's a full blown manhunt in Waldo County. Searsport is my home town! Wow.

    OK, now we've got Matt Mason, former pirate radio DJ and thinker about our new economic and information dissemination models. He wrote "The Pirate's Dilemma: How Youth Culture Reinvented Capitalism." Abundantly clear things about abundance. If you want to beat piracy, join them. Napster worked; adopt the model, rather than smash it. Record labels are finally grasping that. Pirate radio in London were totally illegal. They had millions of listeners; they were the bad guys, but they had a huge, huge audience at their disposal. Brilliant. Innovative. Popular. If you can't beat them, join them. Good business is the best art. Speaks to what Clay said; a generosity-based system works. People rebel differently - they don't start a band. If you think TV sucks, you start an alternative. Like YouTube. The art of storytelling is changing because of abundance. We communicate differently. Don't let legal ruin a remix. Abundance is better than advertising. Big pharma has a problem with abundancy - developing countries can't pay western prices for meds, so pirates make generic meds. Street pirates complain about digital pirates stealing their business. In economy based on abundance, your business model needs to be a virtuous circle.

    Opening remarks @ Pop!Tech 2008.

    Hey everyone,

    I'm currently blogging from Pop!Tech 2008, here at the Camden Opera House. Don't know what Pop!Tech is? Well, you're not alone: not many people in Maine do. If they did, they might be surprised to learn about all of the progressive, vastly talented individuals who gather here each year to share ideas about the future. It's right around 9 a.m., and things are just getting started here - I'm only here for one day, but the slate of speakers is enough to keep me thinking for weeks. There are presentations about copyright law and creative expression and freedom in the digital age; about Project Masiluleke, the largest ever deployment of mobile devices to provide resources to HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis-affected people in Africa; about the worldwide peace movement, and about new frontiers in medicine.

    The theme for Pop!Tech this year is "Scarcity and Abundance" - we exist in a world of just that. There are vast resources available to everyone in the world, and yet most of those resources - energy, information, technology - are held by a select few. I'll elaborate more in a moment. Right now, the first speakers are starting, so I've got to cut this post short. If you weren't aware, you can stream the whole thing online at Watch along with me, and experience the wealth of information and ideas that will be shared today.

    5 things to do this weekend, 10.23.08

    1. "State of the Union" opens this week at the Penobscot Theatre, with shows at 8 p.m. Friday, 5 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Bangor Opera House. The PTC gets very timely, with a play that details the rise of a candidate during the 1944 presidential election. As you'll notice if you go to the show, not that much really has changed. For more info, visit
    2. Boston-based heavy rockers Prospect Hill play a show at 103 Ultra Lounge in Orono on Friday night, with local bands Wolves Among Sleep, Soul Kill, Again I Rise and Rebel Angel. The show starts at 8 p.m., admission is 10 bucks, and it's all ages.
    3. The Devil Music Ensemble visits the Strand Theatre in Rockland again, with their original music score for the 1920 silent film "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," which will be screened at 8 p.m. Saturday night. In the past, the Devil Music Ensemble has in the past performed their original scores for such films as "Nosferatu" and "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" at the Strand, and it's always been a creepy, cool night of sound and image. Admission is $13.50, and for more info
    4. Jesus Mary and Joseph, would you believe that the Napper Tandies are playin' at Paddy Murphys in downtown Bangor Friday night? Well you better believe it, cause Maine's finest Irish band will take the stage starting at 9 p.m. that night. Come drink your fill of Guinness and drunkenly sing along to "The Fields of Athenry." For more info, visit
    5. And finally, for something a little different, at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Recreation Center at the University of Maine, the public is invited to take part in "Thrill the World," an annual worldwide simultaneous dance to Michael Jackson's "Thriller." Cities around the world are participating in the dance, and this year, UMaine is involved. Not clear enough for you? YouTube it. Then show up at the Rec Center at 1 p.m. and get your Thrill on.

    Friday, October 17, 2008

    5 things to do this weekend, 10.17.08

    1. Ten Bucks Theatre opens its new production, an Evening of One Acts, this weekend, with shows at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Next Generation Theater on Center Street in Brewer. The plays set to be performed include Dorothy Parker's "Here We Are," "The Attempted Murder of Ms. Peggy Sweetwater" by John Ruston and Frank Semarano, and David Mamet's "Duck Variations." Admission, of course, is ten bucks.
    2. Jeezum crowe, buddy. She come right round sideways, she does! Hey, I hear that Bob Marley is gonna be at the Bangor Auditorium on Saturday. He's wicked funny, bub. When he does that thing about takin' the skiddoo upta camp and puttin' the hammah down? Hoo buddy, now that is a knee slappah! OK. I can't keep that up too much longer. Bob Marley's at the Auditorium. 7:30 Saturday night. 25 bucks.
    3. The Ann Arbor Film Festival comes to College of the Atlantic on Saturday at 8 p.m., featuring a wealth of new and interesting 16mm experimental and independent films from all over North America. Admission is $6, for more info, visit
    4. 2007's Best House DJ in Portland, DJ MAtty T, will spin at the Red Martini in Bangor Saturday night. Swanky sounds, swanky drinks, swanky dress. Don't miss it.
    5. And, rounding out your weekend festivities, get your Halloween on a little early with the Grand Players production of "Dracula," set for 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the Grand Theater in Ellsworth. It's a super creepy, super action-packed telling of the classic tale, and it's some perfect late fall fun. Admission is $10; for more info, visit

    Thursday, October 9, 2008

    5 things to do this weekend, 10.9.08

    1. The Databass, a WERU DJ and co-founder of the now-legendary Waldo County electronic music festival Beltek, will spin Saturday night at the Red Martini in West Market Square in downtown Bangor. For those not aware, West Market Square is pretty much the place to be on weekends in Bangor, and the Red Martini is a cool, hip but unassuming lounge fit for people from age 21 to 51. Good times. Music starts at 9 p.m.

    2. The Belfast Maskets present Sam Shepard's wonderful 1980 play "True West" starting Thursday and running through Sunday at the Maskers Waterfront Theater. Two brothers, a lot of toasters and even more bottled-up anger. Apparently the fight scenes are amazing. Shows are at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, and admission is $12. For more info, call 338-9668.

    3. Mushroomhead seem to love Maine. Or maybe Maine loves Mushroomhead. They've played up here multiple times in the past few years. Either way, there's a whole lot of heavy metal lovin' goin' on this weekend at 103 Ultra Lounge in Orono. Sunday night, the costumed metal collective Mushroomhead will play with the Autumn Offering, starting at 8 p.m. It's 18 plus, and tickets are available at Bull Moose Music locations.

    4. The American Shakespeare Center brings its acclaimed production of "Hamlet" to College of the Atlantic's Gates Center at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. The show employs a lot of physical action and contemporary touches, with a young, energetic cast. Best of all? It's free! For more info, visit

    5. If you're feeling a little Indiana Jones-ish, might I suggest attending the Archaeology Conference, held at the University of Maine in Orono on Saturday and Sunday? It's not a rock show or a dance party, but it is a pretty cool way to spend your weekend - learning about ancient Andean civilizations from 35 renowned archaeologists and scholars from all over the world. It starts Saturday morning, and runs through Sunday afternoon at Wells Commons Conference Center on the UMaine campus. Admissino is free, for more info, call 581-1889.

    Wednesday, October 8, 2008

    Neverending Mix, 10.8.08

    I will openly admit that I am biased towards all-female rock bands. It's not that I don't appreciate music from people of every stripe and background - in fact, one glance at my iPod reveals that I pretty much like literally every kind of music - but when it's music made by exclusively women, well, that just makes me really happy. It should happen more often.

    Here are the Vivian Girls. They are from New York City, they make reverb-heavy garage rock-influenced pop with amazing girl-group harmonies, and they are totally badass. This song is called "Where Do You Run To?" from the band's self-titled debut album. And yes - all girls. The album is comprised of two-to-three minute fuzzy, sometimes rather loud pop songs. Sounds like the Jesus and Mary Chain meets the Ronnettes. Which pretty much means I am guaranteed to like it!

    Interesting factoid to accompany this post - the name of the band comes from the title of the massive, 15,000+ page manuscript written by outsider artist and author Henry Darger, called "The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion." Google it. Wild stuff.