Internet & Technology

Friday, August 5, 2016

Suppressing free speech on the bayou

Posted By on Fri, Aug 5, 2016 at 6:26 PM

ExposeDAT, a website that drew the wrath of Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter.
  • ExposeDAT, a website that drew the wrath of Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter.



Former LSU Law Dean Jack Weiss, a highly respected First Amendment lawyer, taught me a valuable lesson about some of our most cherished freedoms.



“First Amendment freedoms, including free speech, freedom of the press, open meetings and public records, don’t get eroded in large cities where big news organizations can fight back,” he said. “They die in small towns, where entrenched politicians control virtually everything and most people are too afraid or too poor to fight back.”



I thought about Jack’s lesson when I read about Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter’s deputies executing a search warrant on the home of Houma police officer Wayne Anderson in hopes of learning the identity of an anonymous blogger who had the audacity to criticize Larpenter and other Terrebonne bigwigs.


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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Androids and anime: a day at MechaCon (slideshow)

Posted By on Sun, Jul 31, 2016 at 1:23 PM

Costumed con-goers strike a pose.
  • Costumed con-goers strike a pose.

The scene at MechaCon check-in is bedlam. A man in a glittery green bowler hat, possibly left over from St. Patrick’s Day, jostles a woman with blue and purple hair, who consoles her crying sister. A girl in a metallic red and blue jacket, matching bikini bottoms and black high-heeled boots shivers nearby. Other people in varying degrees of costume stand around the registration desk in vague gestures toward lines; the confusion seems to stem from the fact that there are multiple registration levels. Red-shirted volunteers keep trying to line people up based on the first letter of their last names (“N through Z!”) 

Behind me, a young man in an electric blue wig, a red fedora with playing cards tucked into the band and goggles seems indifferent to the chaos. He’s carrying two boxes at about chest-level. 

“What’s in the box?” I ask. 

The first box has a deck of Magic: The Gathering cards, he says. 

“And the other one?”

“It’s a box of string.”

"And what is the string for?

“No one is supposed to know what the string does.”

Shyly, he opens the box’s lid to reveal a tangled nest of extension and power cords.

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Y@ Speak: #AltonSterling and #BatonRouge

Posted By on Mon, Jul 11, 2016 at 6:00 PM

Twitter allows us nearly minute-by-minute live accounts of anything happening at any time, including the overwhelming, war-like response to protests and marches in the wake of Alton Sterling's death by Baton Rogue police officers last week. Reports from the weekend's protests have used words like "standoff" to describe what was more like a one-sided riot response — where there was no riot. This week's edition follows last week's vigils, rallies and updates from Baton Rouge, all aired on Twitter by the hundreds of witnesses who were there.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

CNBC's American Greed season premiere to feature former Mayor Ray Nagin

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2016 at 12:03 PM

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The CNBC documentary series American Greed has its season premiere March 31 with an installment titled "Ray Nagin: New Orleans Shakedown."

The hourlong report, which begins at 9 p.m., will focus on Nagin's business dealings, including those with now-disgraced and jailed former tech whiz Greg Meffert. Also in the story: Stone Age Granite & Marble, the granite company Nagin ran with his sons. Nagin, who was convicted on federal corruption charges in February 2014, is serving a 10-year prison term in Texarkana, Texas.

Watch a preview:

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Review: Krewe of Vaporwave's virtual Mardi Gras parade

Posted By on Wed, Feb 3, 2016 at 1:47 PM

A snapshot of "A Tribute to War Not Being the Answer," one of the vkv floats.
  • A snapshot of "A Tribute to War Not Being the Answer," one of the vkv floats.
Last night the first annual Virtual Krewe of Vaporwave rolled. Theirs was a virtual parade, viewed via popular streaming service Twitch. To be clear, the parade, a series of video/music collaborations by pseudonymous artists, was entirely online.

It would be easy to dismiss this as a symptom of alienation, but watching it was the opposite of alienating. So many of us do already consume so much of life through screens, whether we're streaming ParadeCam, a small bright rectangle of noise and spectacle in the corner of our workstation at some geographically remote office, or scrolling numbly through Carnival-soaked social media, the documentation of other people's good times. The Virtual Krewe of Vaporwave positioned itself as a joke about this tendency — “This is something to be experienced alone on your computer in the dark,” the Krewe's founder, Merely Synecdoche, told Michael Patrick Welch — but functioned as both a critical commentary on it and, by bringing viewers together at a set time to watch it, even a partial remedy.

Whereas some react to the malign influences of digital technology on our daily lives by mindlessly celebrating technology, fetishizing it, or hailing it as a magical force that can rescue us from our problems, Synecdoche says Vaporwave is about "the loneliness and pointlessness of the Internet."

Vaporwave as a genre is internationally influenced, built of broken pieces of the past, born of a sense of loss, and according to Synecdoche, "on the Internet it’s already been declared dead many times over,” making it a good genre fit for 2016 New Orleans. This first year's theme was "Vaporwave is Dead: Long Live Vaporwave." So: elegiac, fatalistic and unshakably fixated on itself... any of these characteristics sound familiar?

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Virtual Krewe of Vaporwave launches online 'parade'

Posted By on Tue, Feb 2, 2016 at 10:31 AM

Krewe of Vaporwave's music videos incorporate Carnivalesque graphics.
  • Krewe of Vaporwave's music videos incorporate Carnivalesque graphics.

Anyone who can't wait for the final week of Mardi Gras parades to start can try to get some virtual satisfaction Tuesday evening with the launch of the Virtual Krewe of Vaporwave's first "parade." The online experience screens on Twitch.com. The krewe of anonymous DJs, electronic musicians and visual artists created 15 vaporwave videos, incorporating Carnival imagery, and they screen in succession, conceptually like a 15-float parade, says the krewe founder, who goes by the pseudonym Merely Synecdoche.

"We're a digital art collaborative," he says. "The goal is to be a Mardi Gras krewe that posts digital art every year."

The inaugural parade theme is "Vaporwave is Dead: Long Live Vaporware."

Parade viewers can visit www.kreweofvaporwave.com and find the link to Twitch.com, on which the parade will screen at 7 p.m., 8 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. The stream mimics conventions of parades. The four screenings are dubbed as locations: Magazine Street at Napoleon Avenue, St. Charles Avenue at Louisiana Avenue, St. Charles Avenue at I-10 and St. Charles Avenue at Canal Street. Images of those locations will be incorporated into the video stream at the matching time. There also are links for "throws."

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Remembering C.B. Forgotston, a Louisiana original

Posted By on Thu, Jan 7, 2016 at 6:22 PM

C.B. Forgotston, the attorney, blogger, talk show guest and frequent irritant to those in power, died Jan. 3 at 70.
  • C.B. Forgotston, the attorney, blogger, talk show guest and frequent irritant to those in power, died Jan. 3 at 70.


John Adams once wrote, “The love of power is insatiable and uncontrollable. … There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.” Those words, penned in the 18th century, infused the more recent writings by Louisiana political watchdog C.B. Forgotston.

For more than 20 years, Forgotston, a Hammond attorney, blogger, talk show guest and frequent irritant to those in power, fearlessly skewered our state’s public officials with Adams-like precision. He died on Jan. 3 at age 70, but his work lives on in the memories of his many readers and admirers.

On his website and his Twitter feed, he took regular aim (and no prisoners) at politicians of all stripes, especially Gov. Bobby Jindal, whom he derided as a charlatan. He often posted copies of Jindal’s campaign promises, juxtaposing them with the governor’s actions, and his website recently featured a countdown clock, ticking off the minutes and seconds ’til Jindal was out of office. Had he lived to see it, Forgotston would have held new Gov. John Bel Edwards accountable from Day One.

Jindal was hardly Forgotston’s only target. He limned former Gov. Mike Foster as “Big Daddy” and a big spender, and he proudly posted the “Louisiana Misery Index” — a list of lists on which Louisiana consistently fared poorly. To those who called him “cynical,” he replied with an entry from his oft-quoted “Glossary” of Louisiana political terms — “Cynicism: The power of accurate observation as commonly called by those who have not got it.”

Forgotston may have been cranky, but he was no crank. An LSU law graduate, he worked for several years as chief counsel to the House Appropriations Committee and later as a lobbyist for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI). He opposed both the state lottery and the land-based casino in New Orleans, two battles he lost. If he struck some as cynical, it was because he had served time in the belly of the beast. He saw up close how power corrupted people.

In C.B.’s Glossary, “mullets” were average Louisianans, perpetually suffering under the contemptible rule of self-serving politicians. Among his other definitions:

America: A country that Louisiana would like to one day join.

Ethics: The concept of right and wrong. A concept so unknown to politicians in Louisiana that the leges had to pass a statute to remind themselves of it.

Intaxication: The temporary euphoria one feels when they hear they will receive a tax decrease only to realize that it was their money to begin with.

Statute: A mere guideline for politicians. It is a mandatory law for Mullets.

Statesman: A term used by leges to describe themselves when they turn their backs on the people who elected them.

Like him or not, agree with him or not, Forgotston was exactly the kind of watchdog Louisiana needs. Of the politicians he battled, he told Gambit in 2006, “I don’t know if they respect us as much as fear us, but I consider that a badge of honor.” Rest in peace, C.B. Louisiana misses you already.



A funeral for C.B. Forgotston will be held at 11 a.m. Fri. Jan. 8 at Holy Ghost Catholic Church (600 N. Oak St., Hammond). Visitation from 9-11 a.m.

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Monday, January 4, 2016

"Total War Puppets" demilitarize the Mudlark Theater

Posted By on Mon, Jan 4, 2016 at 4:18 PM

Sandy the Slut, one of the Total War Puppets
  • Sandy the Slut, one of the Total War Puppets
In the years I've been acquainted with the woman known as Nyx, she has been not only a very solid poet, artist and anarchist-feminist theorist but an outspoken and unstinting critic of what she perceives as weak or regressive creative endeavors here in New Orleans.

After a sojourn abroad, she and her new collaborator Ben Bornstein are returning to town Jan. 9, 10, 12 and 13 with their project Total War Puppets, in a production at the Mudlark Theatre titled "Fire with Fire."

I spoke to Nyx and Ben about their puppet show, its ideological underpinnings, and what Nyx finds lacking in the New Orleans DIY art scene. One of the most principled and least cowardly New Orleans artists I know is back with a vengeance, and I couldn't be happier about it.



What's the origin of "Total War Puppets?"

NYX:
I left New Orleans to go to Bread & Puppet in Brattleboro, Vermont for an apprenticeship. I met Ben there and we had more political affinity than I had with most of those people. I'd had the idea for a show about militarism and its connection to my family. A few months later I was working on little scenes, and I had enough to make a show. Ben joined me and we spent a month doing nothing except building the puppet show. We both wrote different scenes and then heavily co-edited them.

BEN: The name of our troupe addresses how a militaristic culture isn't relegated to statist violence like the police. Total War is the current doctrine of war, including citizen non-combatants — Total War throws you into the context of war simply by being alive.

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Maple Street Book Shop to close at end of 2015

Posted By on Thu, Oct 1, 2015 at 1:56 PM

Gladin Scott is a longtime customer and owner of Maple Street Book Shop. - COURTESY MAPLE STREET BOOK SHOP
  • COURTESY MAPLE STREET BOOK SHOP
  • Gladin Scott is a longtime customer and owner of Maple Street Book Shop.

Maple Street Book Shop owner Gladin Scott announced the store will close at the end of 2015.

"With dwindling sales, it's tough to keep open a bookshop that isn't self-sustaining," he said.

Scott said changing technology contributed to the difficulties of keeping the shop open.

"I think technology has changed the way people read and buy books," he said.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Jazz funeral for Sudan’s Kenneth James Dykes Sr.

Posted By on Wed, Sep 23, 2015 at 12:52 PM

Sudan member Kenneth Dykes Sr.
  • Sudan member Kenneth Dykes Sr.

Kenneth Dykes Sr.

Sunset: Saturday, September 12, 2015


Last Saturday, the social aid and pleasure club community laid to rest one of its beloved members to rest. Kenneth James Dykes Sr., age 54 and founding member of ‘Sudan’ Social Aid & Pleasure Club, succumbed to cancer Sat., Sept. 12, 2015. His club honored Dykes with a traditional jazz funeral homegoing ceremony.


(videos and more below the jump!)

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