June 2011

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The best Romans we ever knew were former ex-pats there: Charles and Doris Muscatine. We didn’t know them well, having met only once, for dinner in the early ’90s, at their son Jeff’s house in the Bay Area. But it turned out we were going to be in Rome at the same time, not long after that dinner, so we arranged to hook up there for lunch. We felt like we were imposing a bit, but hey: both were authorities on Rome, and Doris was the author of A Cook’s tour of Rome, among many other books on food and cooking.

They told us to meet them in a small alley-sized street next to an obscure church in a part of town that was all cobblestone and stucco over brick that went back to the days of empire, if not earlier. There we would find a restaurant with no sign, they said: just a curtain for a door. It was, literally, a hole-in-the-wall. It was also their favorite. Just about the only patrons then were locals, and the food consisted of Roman staples, perfectly prepared. It was wonderful.

But Chuck and Doris are now both gone; and, when we arrived in Rome a few days ago, we had  no memory of the restaurant’s name, much less its location, since Rome has no shortage of old narrow streets and obscure churches. Instead the first place we aimed for was one we read about in an airline magazine.

To our astonishment, it was the same place. The curtain was replaced by red ropes (see above), but otherwise it was unimproved. Margherita herself is now too old to cook there, we learned, but it’s the same home cooking as ever. The fried artichokes (“carciofi alla giudìa”), which have leaves as delicate as potato chips but infinitely more character, are a must if you’re ever in town.

The name is Sora Margherita and the church next door is Santa Maria del Pianto. It’s located in the Jewish ghetto district. Highly recommended.

When in Rome…

Coliseum

So we’re in Rome and I’m thinking about Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf and cable cars…

When I lived in the Bay Area and hung out in San Francisco, I did like all the other locals, and stayed away from the tourist stuff. Sure, right after we arrived from North Carolina in 1985, when the kids were twelve and fifteen, we hit all required tourist to-dos, in one day, and that was about it. After that we were locals, which meant we did other things.

But this is Rome, and we can’t resist doing The Usual, and also a bit more.

“More” for me began on the way in, when I got this series of aerial photos. The Coliseum, above, is a close-up from this shot here.

More soon, I hope.

 

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Friday, 24 June… Heard from @VodafoneIT that there had been a “ticket” in Rome yesterday, and that the problem is fixed now. Usage (considered below) was not the issue. Hat tip to @VodafoneIT for getting back to me with the answer on that. Grazie.


Not being a reader of Italian, it’s hard to tell* why the Net got cut off here at our rented apartment; but I think the reason is that there is a usage limit. Does anybody know? If so, please give us a page explaining Vodafone landline plans, so our non-technical landlord can review it when he gets here tomorrow and tries to solve our problem. Not having the Net isn’t the worst thing while we’re here; but we do have business to conduct, so having it is helpful when we’re not enjoying the city. Grazie.

*The error message only appears when we are offline, so getting an online tranlation (in, say, Chrome) isn’t possible then, and we neglected to copy it off, to try translating it when we’re back on. Next time we’ll do that.

OwnerIQ sez,

This video explains what they mean.

Compare those people and the way they define themselves—as products (a BMW, an iPad)—to the way Walt Whitman defined himself, just before Industry won the Industrial Revolution:

I know I am solid and sound.
To me the converging objects of the universe
perpetually flow.
All are written to me,
and I must get what the writing means.
I know I am deathless.
I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept
by a carpenter’s compass,

I know that I am august,
I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself
or be understood.
I see that the elementary laws never apologize.

My foothold is tenoned and mortised in granite.
I laugh at what you call dissolution,
And I know the amplitude of time.

It is time to explain myself. Let us stand up.

I am an acme of things accomplished,
and I an encloser of things to be.
Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me.
Afar down I see the huge first Nothing,
the vapor from the nostrils of death.
I know I was even there.
I waited unseen and always.
And slept while God carried me
through the lethargic mist.
And took my time.

Long I was hugged close. Long and long.
Infinite have been the preparations for me.
Faithful and friendly the arms that have helped me.

Cycles ferried my cradle, rowing and rowing
like cheerful boatmen;
For room to me stars kept aside in their own rings.
They sent influences to look after what was to hold me.

Before I was born out of my mother
generations guided me.
My embryo has never been torpid.
Nothing could overlay it.
For it the nebula cohered to an orb.
The long slow strata piled to rest it on.
Vast vegetables gave it substance.
Monstrous animals transported it in their mouths
and deposited it with care.

All forces have been steadily employed
to complete and delight me.
Now I stand on this spot with my soul.

I know that I have the best of time and space.
And that I was never measured, and never will be measured.

I’m sure he owned more stuff than “a rainproof coat, good shoes and a staff cut from the wood.” But hey, maybe not. But whatever he had, what he did mattered more. Here’s what he does for each of us:

Each man and woman of you I lead upon a knoll.
My left hand hooks you about the waist,
My right hand points to landscapes and continents,
and a plain public road.

Not I, nor any one else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it for yourself.

It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born
and did not know.
Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.

Shoulder your duds, and I will mine,
and let us hasten forth.

If you tire, give me both burdens and rest the chuff of your hand on my hip.
And in due time you shall repay the same service to me.

Long enough have you dreamed contemptible dreams.
Now I wash the gum from your eyes.
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.

Long have you timidly waited,
holding a plank by the shore.
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, and rise again,
and nod to me and shout,
and laughingly dash your hair.

I am the teacher of athletes.
He that by me spreads a wider breast than my own
proves the width of my own.
He most honors my style
who learns under it to destroy the teacher.

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then. I contradict myself.
I am large. I contain multitudes.

I concentrate toward them that are nigh.
I wait on the door-slab.

Who has done his day’s work
and will soonest be through with his supper?
Who wishes to walk with me.

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me.
He complains of my gab and my loitering.

I too am not a bit tamed. I too am untranslatable.
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

I submit that wild and free customers are far more potent participants in the marketplace than “consumers” of “brands.”

You know, like this:

The time has come to choose your species. If you’re just what you own, you’re veal.

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It’s been almost two years since the Associated Press issued a press release that began this way:

07/23/2009

AP Press Release

Associated Press to build news registry to protect content

Registry will provide tools to monitor use of AP and member content online while also enabling new business opportunities

NEW YORK – The Associated Press Board of Directors today directed The Associated Press to create a news registry that will tag and track all AP content online to assure compliance with terms of use. The system will register key identifying information about each piece of content that AP distributes as well as the terms of use of that content, and employ a built-in beacon to notify AP about how the content is used.

“What we are building here is a way for good journalism to survive and thrive,” said Dean Singleton, chairman of the AP Board of Directors and vice chairman and CEO of MediaNews Group Inc. “The AP news registry will allow our industry to protect its content online, and will assure that we can continue to provide original, independent and authoritative journalism at a time when the world needs it more than ever.”

The registry will initially cover all AP text content online, and be extended to AP member content in early 2010. Eventually, it will be expanded to cover photos and video as well. AP will fund development and operation of the registry through 2010, until it becomes self-sustaining.

I thought it was actually a cool thing, and said so, adding,

Over in Linux Journal I just posted AP Launches Open Source Ascribenation Project, in which I look at how the AP’s “tracking and tagging” technology, which is open source, can help lay the foundations for a journalistic world where everybody gets credit for what they contribute to the greater sphere of news and comment — and can get paid for it too, easily — if readers feel like doing that.

The process of giving credit where due we call , and the system by which readers (or listeners, or viewers) choose to pay for it we call .

Regardless of what we call it, that’s where we’re going to end up. The system that began when the AP was formed in 1846 isn’t going to go away, but it will have to adapt. And adopt. It’s good to see it doing the latter. The former will be harder. But it has to be done.

In the Linux Journal piece I said,

The AP has two routes it can take here:

  1. The paranoid route, looking toward their new system as a way to lock up content and enforce compliance.
  2. The engagement route, by which they recognize that they’ve just helped lay the foundation for the next generation of journalism, and a business model for it. That generation is one in which all journalists and sources get credit for their work throughout the networked world — and where readers, listeners and viewers can easily recognize (and cite) those responsible for the media goods they consume. The business model is one in which anybody consuming media “content” (a word I hate, but there it is) can pay whatever they want for anything they like, on their own terms and not just those of the seller.

The call to action:

The real challenge for the AP isn’t to “protect its content.” It’s to make that content more valuable to more people and in more ways. It’s to help create the 21st century ecosystem for journalism, rather than to protect its 19th century model. (The AP was founded in 1846.) A lot of us would like to help the AP, along with other journalistic organizations. But we can’t do it through legal departments. We can’t do it through CEOs and spokespeople either. We need to do it on a geek-to-geek level. Our geeks need to be talking to their geeks.

It did get some positive geek press, and I see the News Registry is up and there is an hNews microformat. Lots of links there. Among recent links, though, not much.

Now I see there is also rNews, “developed by the IPTC, a consortium of the world’s major news agencies, news publishers and news industry vendors.” Also that “there is no need for violence” in its “war” with hNews. Wow.

Anyway, I’m writing up ascribenation for a book right now, and it would be good to get the story here, whatever it is.

 

Poetry

I used to write poetry.

I’m talking mostly decades ago.

at my ages, that could be any of manywhen

a little cummings in that last line.

Been digging Good Poems, selected by Garrison Keillor.

The poem for my last post came to me as I set the book down and got back to work. The OPML Editor was open, and it’s a shitload faster to write with than WordPress’ own editor, so I blogged it. Bing! justlikethat.

It might seem a bit out of character, but I have lots of those.

And many more left to write.

Creation is every thing:

The blade, the cradle

The rock and the hand.

All nouns and all verbs;

But no adjectives, no adverbs.

Just what is, what was,

What will be,

And how.

So Dan Gillmor and I will be on stage later today at the Personal Democracy Forum at NYU. What questions should we be asking the the people we’d rather not call the audience?

[Later...] Since I’ve been told that the above (the one-paragraph tweetlike post this used to be) has been misunderstood by a few folks, here’s some context missing in the original: 1) Dan is deservedly notable for referring to “the former audience” and saying “my readers know more than I do”; and 2) I’m the “markets are conversations” guy. So we don’t wish to hog the stage we’ve been given. Hope that helps.