Saturday, July 9, 2011


New York life in the 1880’s was bustling and river traffic was growing daily. Buildings like our ClockTower (1886) were springing up and boats and barges were a big part of the supply and distribution chain.

The Little Red Lighthouse, immortalized in a book by the same name, was originally constructed on Sandy Hook New Jersey and remained there until 1917.
But by 1889, Hudson River traffic had become so dense that lights were needed to keep ships and barges away from the shoals where the George Washington Bridge now stands. A 20 foot post with 2 red lanterns was erected. Lame.

But the lights apparently worked so they were improved in 1895 to a whopping 10 candle power. 

The U.S. Coast Guard finally got serious in 1921 and relocated the lighthouse to its present site under the GWB, so I rode my bike over to take a look.

Sure enough, right where the map said it would be.

A Homeland Security guard walked over and asked me what I was doing. He told me I couldn’t take photos of the bridge and he wanted to delete them now.

But it’s a public bridge in a public place so in polite conversation I reminded him I was well within my rights and he had no jurisdiction to require this.

He grew quiet and backed off, but hung around.

Manhattan's last surviving lighthouse, this Little Red one was decommissioned in 1947 but it’s cool and worth a visit.

Bring your camera.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Look up

Space shuttle ATLANTIS blasted into space this morning for the 33rd and final time, 135 total missions and today began our last. I like that we go into space. Without our shuttle program there’d be no International Space Station. That began in 1998.

Our shuttle is the only manned, orbital and winged spacecraft that actually returns to Earth like an airplane to be reused. That concept in prototype was working as early as 1976 but the first true shuttle flew in 1981. I toured the Explorer at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

We lost two, the Challenger in January 1986 and the Columbia in February 2003. That’s a 99% success rate on a fairly complicated mission.

It’s bigger than I thought.

When Senator William Proxmire, Democrat from Wisconsin for 32 years was asked in 1977 if he would fund space colonization programs beginning with this Shuttle initiative, he responded:
“It’s the best argument yet for chopping NASA’s funding
 to the bone. As Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee responsible for NASA’s appropriations, 
I say not a penny for this nutty fantasy . . .”
Nice call, Senator. lol
The last mission of an era began this morning. Look up.

from mean to green

Just over one year ago our backyard was a gravel lot strewn with broken glass and litter. It was enclosed by a ramshackle plywood fence and it was dark at night.

A great deal of work and investment has gone into the backyard since then. Our management has created a little green oasis with benches for sitting and reading, room for grilling and a spotless little dog-run all safely lit within enclosed, numbered parking. 

With a convenient, automatic lift gate.

ClockTowerTenants thank you.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

yesterday’s freedom, for a song

There’s an interesting TechCrunch story published in the Washington Post today that reports record album sales are up 1% over last year, the first increase in album sales since 2004. For people who enjoy the encompassing arc of a record album as an art form, this is great news. Our relationship with music is deeper than singles can fulfill, so a swing back to richer musical experience was inevitable.

And surprise surprise, the holy grail of digital entertainment also came true today. Coincidence? 

Internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast, CableVision and Verizon fell into line today with the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America. They now have to allow private industry or their agents to watch you online. Yes, you read that right.

No longer will ISP’s be permitted to monetize illegal downloading of content stolen from the internet without responsibility. Going forward they must permit monitoring of your bit-torrent downloading habits, then begin a multistep process of warnings and education that leads to “mitigation measures” like sending you to an “education webpage" when you log on, or slowing the speed of your connection (called “throttling") or even blocking the web entirely for true pirates who just won’t stop.

Why should you care? Until now, no one has had a legal right without a warrant to know what you are doing online even if it was unlawful. Today that changed. Now with this agreement your ISP will have an obligation to allow others to know what you are doing online and to take steps to stop you from scanning and uploading books or unlawful TV streaming or bit torrent filesharing of music or movies. Your ISP has finally caved to be a content cop to avoid any liability to themselves.

Websites that point to infringing material or facilitate unlawful pirating can now be seized by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement under approval of Obama’s Justice department.

With this new surveillance coming online soon, pirates are likely to turn to Tor onion routing….. 
...or to encryption and VPN’s (virtual private networks) to escape detection while stealing copyrighted files. 
So we can expect governments to begin licensing and controlling the use of these anonymizing techniques as well. Our private internet of the early 1990’s is gone.
It’s amazing to me that people have actually traded away privacy and a freedom our military has fought and died for so they could steal copyrighted content online for awhile. 
Even to the point where ISP’s now have an obligation to allow lawyers to watch us.
Just amazes me.