Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Albany's Neat Stuff, Part One: A traveling art exhibit

Albany has quite a bit of neat stuff, and neat history.  I think it will make a pretty nice series for this blog to travel around to some of them, maybe even to those in other area cities.  For now, we'll let the neat stuff travel to us, instead.

The subject of part one is not part of Albany's history or even a permanent fixture.  Or might it be?



According to the Capitol Confidential blog on the Times Union site, artist Sergio Furnari is traveling the country with his sculpture of a life-sized recreation of the famous 1932 photograph, Lunch Atop a Skyscraper by Charles C. Ebbets.  It's probably the coolest way to search for a commission that I've heard of. He's setting it for roughly half a million dollars, so if anyone has that sitting around...

Last week, the exhibit was parked just off Lark Street on my walk home.



What an amazing piece!  It's super cool to walk up to what looks like a complete personification of this iconic photo.  I've always loved the photo, anyway, even though the real thing really gets my fear of heights going.

The original 1932 photograph in all its acrophobic glory. (Wikipedia)
In other news, Stephen Pastis of the comic strip Pearls Before Swine accidentally sent Rat, my favorite character, to Albany in a recent strip:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

SOPA, PIPA and Protest

I took my blog down on January 18th, between the hours of 8am and whenever I remembered to turn it back on.  This was part of an American Internet-wide response to two bills pending in the House: the Stop Internet Privacy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA).  My low-weight self joined heavyweights like Google, Mozilla and Wikipedia in protesting these two bills by shutting down our sites for a day and linking to information about the pending bills.

In a nutshell, these bills threaten the free and open World Wide Web that we've all come to love and post copyrighted material within.  I'm not anti-copyright, anti-artist, or pro-piracy.  I study information science as my discipline and deal with its workings daily in my job.  Copyright serves an important purpose and must be protected, reasonably.  Unmitigated enforcement by corporations, not governmental agencies, police departments or regulatory bodies, but profit-motivated and massive amounts of copyright holding corporations themselves, serves no purpose beyond increased revenues by those very corporations.

In fact, these bills, should they become law, would not address pirated content, as the content would still exist.  It only blocks access to that content, which is effectively censorship.


Here are some links to further information about the bills and action you can take:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57329001-281/how-sopa-would-affect-you-faq/ - Comprehensive FAQ with tons of nuts and bolts information about the acts.

http://theoatmeal.com/sopa - Hopefully this comic stays up for a while. Pure brilliance, as The Oatmeal is known to provide.

http://www.zoowithroy.com/2011/12/post-about-sopa-by-ryan.html - A really great site that puts it in very simple terms that nearly everyone can identify with.

http://sopastrike.com/strike/ - This is the site that I linked to during the outage of Albany: The Pedestrian Perspective (A:PP [if nothing else came out of these bills, I got a sweet abbreviation for this blog]).  Information about the issues, a petition of protest, links to the numerous websites that went dark today and information on how to black out your site on January 18th, which is now totally irrelevant, as the protest is over.

https://www.google.com/landing/takeaction/ - The Google petition site.

http://fightforthefuture.org/pipa/ - A video about the situation.  Pause for a few minutes if you're watching before at least Jan. 22nd, since there's quite a bit of traffic. 

Updated with additional links:

http://blog.timesunion.com/rogergreen/the-best-explanation-of-why-the-internet-piracy-bills-are-bad-for-you/2624/ - Roger Green from the Times Union Blogs in his post:  The Best Explanation of Why These Internet Piracy Bills are Bad for Us.

http://www.salon.com/2012/01/19/jon_stewart_takes_on_sopa/  - John Stewart demonstrating that the members of Congress who gave the go-ahead for the bills have no idea how the Internet works.

More actual Pedestrian Perspective posts will be up soon.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

BLACKOUT

I know that it's not going to have a tremendous impact, but nonetheless, Albany: The Pedestrian Perspective will go dark for 12 hours tomorrow, to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act, which will virtually eliminate the Internet as we know it.  Learn more about it here.

Other confirmed sites, among the heavyweights, are Google, Mozilla, Wikipedia and Cheezburger, the site with the cats saying cute things in broken English.

I promise to black out for half a day, as soon as I figure out how.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Holidays in Albany

Albany's usually much prettier this time of year, with snow on the ground and in the trees softening the appearance of everything, making the cold a bit more bearable.  All of that is absent so far, much like autumn was.  The most winter we've had yet was in October, even as the temperature dropped quite uncomfortably today.  Still, there are some nice things during the holidays that do a bit toward making up for the lack of proper northeast seasons. So let's take a look at some of them, particularly the Capital Holiday Lights and the recently re-introduced skating rink at Empire State Plaza.

Holiday Lights in Washington Park

]
One of the larger displays in the middle of the park, with many more behind.  Taken earlier in December.
I took a nice stroll through the park over the weekend, during one of the last nights of the Capital Holiday Lights.  Here are some unfortunately dark iPhone photos of it:


The bridge over the lake.
There has been some controversy lately over the light displays, which benefit after-school programs for inner-city youth by the Albany Police Athletic League.  Concerns have been raised by the Washington Park Conservancy, a group of people who seem to detest fun and helping disadvantaged children, that "permanent damage" is being done to the park by the cords and stakes that support the light displays, and which also support other events such as the Capital Pride Festival and TulipFest.  Personally, being that many old industrial areas are slowly returning to nature, I fail to see how permanent damage can be done by some light fixtures and electrical wires.

Here is a link to an article, and another to a blog post, about the controversy.

The blog post (which, as usual, I bitchily participated in) included comments by some posters that talked about not being allowed in the park as pedestrians, sometimes even being kicked out of the park while walking their dogs.  While I think this might have been possible, and that sucks if it's true, I have yet to see this happen, after walking through the displays at all times of day for all four years that I've lived in Albany during the Holiday Season.  Of course, I've always used only the walking trails (to be fair, some of them claim they were as well), but I've walked right past police officers, attendants,  and other workers from both directions, all of the park, without a single incident in four years.   The night these pictures were taken, a young father was carrying his child on his shoulders walking down the regular road, co-mingling with cars, past two police officers, without a word spoken other than pleasantries.

Just saying.  Take a walk.  Enjoy. :)

The lake from the other side.
video
A video of the lights, as dark pictures don't do the flashing much justice.

I like this one, a family of ducks running down the hill into the lake.  One of my posts from this summer featured a shot of some ducks taken right by here:
The Real Ducks of Washington Park.


video
A video of the ducks in action.  I meant it, they really were running down the hill.

The bridge, decorated for the holidays and closed to pedestrians.