Archive for February, 2007

Utility my ass

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

The Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy (which took over from the Department of Public Utilities) should be ashamed of itself.

Verizon public telephone charges $0.70 for a ONE MINUTE local telephone call. Now I have never been anything but cynical of corporate greed, but I kinda hoped the good Commonwealth would—as it has in the past—defend the common weal. This is the state in which the cost of a three minute call was regulated at ten cents, and each additional minute cost five cents. Of course that was before hundreds of millions were to be made selling cellphone contracts, cellphones, and digital bandwidth.

One, perhaps a naive one, might surmise that with all that added value, the loss which the phone company has historically absorbed in order to provide a service defined as necessary by statute, would become a less onerous public service for them to tolerate. And that was true.

Unless you look at it the way the phone company did. If payphones were plentiful and cheap, then the phone companies would have to work harder to sell the new services to us (cellphone contracts, cellphones, and digital bandwidth). They would have to make them so useful, and the cell networks so efficient that almost every dime-bearing payphone-user would prefer one.

Nah! It was much easier to just eliminate public payphones. With public payphones vanishing faster than snowmen in Spring, then the selling of cells would be easy, and they wouldn’t need to be particularly cheap, either. Furthermore, such a climate enfeebles the demand that a Public utility—like the cellular network—be regulated as a single, robust and dependable network. And as if it were not bad enough having a mishmash of networks each variously disinterested in the public good, lets further prevent the several cell networks, each with spotty coverage, from inter-operating transparently to eliminate dead spots.

Such a policy does two things: it increases profits, and as an uncared-about side effect, it decreases dependability.

Of course. It is the people who make the money who dictate now, not the people charged with preserving the commonweal. Most of them have left public service, anyway.

Philip Glass

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

Do all these Philip Glass movie sound tracks sound the same? The Hours, Kundun, and Koyaanisqatsi.

I just watched Kundun, and I kept expecting to see Virginia Woolf appear. I felt the same way when I listened to parts of the soundtrack from the Qatsi trilogy.

Is it enough just to be famous, to be allowed to rework a tired old tune and call it new, or is there some sensibility I am missing here? Maybe Philip deserves renown for something, but it certainly is not for duplicating the inspiration he had for whichever of those films came first.

Or maybe none of these are the original inspiration, maybe all of these (and perhaps even more) are variations of some preceding theme.

I loved the soundtrack for The Hours. I guess that means I liked the soundtracks for Kundun and Koyaanisqatsi, too.

I’m in a bad mood. Maybe it’s syphilitic encephalitis that’s making me cranky. It’s always more fun to get than keep.



Monday, February 19th, 2007

Massachusetts State Police Helicopter

This is dsc00011.jpg, the eleventh photo I took with my then-brandie-new camera, the Sony DSC-F717, in February of 2003. Yikes! Such a long time ago.

That is still a camera as yet unreplaced. True, I have moved on to a more expensive one… actually, the newer one is no more expensive than the Sony was. But in the ever-avalanching price structure of new gadgets, a $700 camera in 2003 is not really comparable to a $700 camera in 2007.

Only this one is. Even as I am distracted by my new Canon 350D digital SLR, I remember my Sony. I had mastered it, which is more than I can say for my skills with my Canon one year on. I see shots I might have taken with it, and know exactly how I would do it, I know in my mind how to adjust the settings, which controls to touch, how to hold the camera, what to look for on the top and the back and through the viewfinder.

I haven’t yet returned to it for anything. I am remaining intesely centered on the Canon, until I learn play it like a musical instrument, until I can carry a tune on it. But I look forward to the day when I can relax, and just pick up the old familiar Sony for a day of shooting without any of the pressure to learn, without being careful with expensive lenses, cases, and lots of stuff–but with all of the ease of an old friend.

Before the accidental ones, and the ones just taken for the pleasure of pushing the shutter button the first few times, that eleventh photo was the real first one. It was a joy…