Shane Claiborne Loses Everything and Nothing

Last week a seven-alarm fire ripped through an abandonded warehouse and spread into a Philadelphia neighborhood, displacing eight families, forcing 100 to evacuate and requiring 175 firefighters to keep it under control. One of the houses destroyed belonged to the Simple Way community center and was home to a number of neighborhood initiatives, micro-businesses and two community members–Jesce Walz and Shane Claiborne (Claiborne is the author of The Irresistible Revolution and a speaker at the Foursquare NextGen Summit ’07). Check out this video for an overview of what happened.

Claiborne and Walz lost everything they own (sounds like Claiborne managed to save his laptop), yet it doesn’t seem to phase them:

“The most valuable things in life you can’t buy, sell or steal,” he said. “People ask, ‘How does it feel to lose everything?’ I say, ‘I wouldn’t know. Everybody survived.’ ” (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

The community is trying to rebuild and find hope in loss, setting up funds to help rebuild the Simple Way and to help neighborhood families. They’re also pushing the city to turn the destroyed warehouse–which had been labeled a fire hazard and has been abandonded for over 20 years, yet city officials never acted on it–into a community park. The economic disparity evident here reminds me of Object Orange in Detroit.

The Jena 6: Racism in America

In September 2006, a group of African American high school students in Jena, Louisiana, asked the school for permission to sit beneath a “whites only” shade tree. There was an unwritten rule that blacks couldn’t sit beneath the tree. The school said they didn’t care where students sat. The next day, students arrived at school to see three nooses (in school colors) hanging from the tree.

The boys who hung the nooses were suspended from school for a few days. The school administration chalked it up as a harmless prank, but Jena’s black population didn’t take it so lightly. Fights and unrest started breaking out at school. The District Attorney, Reed Walters, was called in to directly address black students at the school and told them all he could “end their life with a stroke of the pen.” (from While Seated via Kottke, more from the BBC)

And it went down hill from there. Fights errupted, someone tried to burn down the school and then a white student was injured and six black students were charged with attempted murder. The trial is starting now and is beginning to draw attention.

This sounds like something from the 1960s. Ridiculous.

Continue reading The Jena 6: Racism in America

Facebook is AOL 2.0

While talking about the redesigned Vimeo (one of the video sites where I post), Jason Kottke made an interesting remark about Facebook:

“Vimeo is to YouTube as Facebook is to MySpace…not in terms of closed versus open (you do know that Facebook is AOL 2.0, right?) but in terms of being a bit more well thought out and not as, well, ugly (and not just in the aesthetic sense).” (emphasis mine)

I love the ‘Vimeo is to YouTube as Facebook is to MySpace’–so true.

But the comment I found interesting was that Facebook is AOL 2.0.

Continue reading Facebook is AOL 2.0

Triathalon Cheaters

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law competed in a triathalon this weekend. What they probably didn’t know is that apparently winning is all about finding the worst competition so you can beat them. How stupid is this?

There’s a trend of wannabe winners gauging the competition at rinky-dink local triathalons and only entering if they think they have a good shot at winning. It’s not about the sport or the thrill or the fun of it–they just want to brag about winning a triathalon. Never mind that they bested only a handful of competitors so their win really doesn’t mean anything.

You have to be a certain kind of messed up to want a meaningless trophy that bad. I think my mother-in-law scored a much cooler prize: finishing. (link via

Painting the Family Room

So I had this brilliantly stupid idea. While Abby and Lexi were out of town for the weekend I thought it’d be a good time to do some painting. We’ve been slowly painting rooms in our new house and the paint was just sitting there waiting. I figured with Lexi gone and a full weekend to work on it I could have the whole thing done before they got back. It’d be easier than trying to finish it while Lexi slept.

Seemed simple enough.

Continue reading Painting the Family Room

A $250 Piece of Toast

Cause is King - $250 toastMy friends at Personality™ just bought a $250 piece of toast. It’s an actual piece of toast, but they’ll never hold it or eat it. Instead it gets them a prominent position on Your Name on Toast and $250 goes to charity.

It’s the latest twist on these advertising pages that started with the Million Dollar Homepage, only this one is for charity and the price keeps going up (which reminds me of One Thousand Paintings, only it’s not as complex–the price just goes up).

Seth Godin talked about it a while back and it’s just amazing to me that these things take off. It’s kind of like the online equivalent of what modern artists always hear–“I could have built that!”–then why didn’t you?

Tick Party: The Best Tick Episodes Ever

I’m bacheloring it up this weekend as Abby and Lexi are off watching grandma compete in a triathalon (as hilarious as that sounds, could you survive a triathalon?). So I’m throwing a Tick Party. We’ll be watching episdoes of the mid-1990s animated series The Tick (not the short-lived live action version).

Since I doubt anyone will want to stick around for all three seasons, I need to pick the best episodes to screen. So here are my choices and side comments.

Continue reading Tick Party: The Best Tick Episodes Ever

Will AT&T Ruin the iPhone?

New York Magazine has an interesting profile on Steve Jobs that focuses on the new iPhone, which hits the streets June 29. I haven’t seen such lust for a tech product before, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it for a cell phone. But for everything Apple is doing right with the iPhone, there are a few dozen things that could cause the whole wonderful experiment to implode. Like being forced to work with AT&T for starters:

For 30 years, Jobs has hewn to the conviction that Apple’s strength is that, as he puts it, the company makes “the whole banana”—hardware, software, and everything in between. This approach is no small part of the reason that the Mac was trounced in the PC market by Windows. On the other hand, it explains why Apple thumped everyone with the iPod. Whatever its virtues and demerits, however, the whole banana has been Jobs’s ideological touchstone. And now he is entering a business where success or failure will depend on the efficiency and savvy of not just another company, but of AT&T. Oy vey.

For what it’s worth, I have AT&T for my cell phone service. It’s not bad (not brilliant either). My phone is crap, but I think that’s Motorola’s fault (and that’s probably a defective deal–my wife’s phone of the same model works fine).

‘Ask a Kevin’ at Church Marketing Sucks

If you head over to one of the blogs I write for, Church Marketing Sucks, you can check out an interview with yours truly: Ask a Kevin. Our CMS intern, bless his heart, thought it might be fun to do an interview with me since I haven’t been writing for CMS as much lately.

I’m not sure I say anything brilliant, but rather predictably U2 comes up and I go off about how cool web 2.0 is. You know, the typical fare around here.

Squirrel Causes Power Outage

I have a few projects due this week so I was working furiously today–had five billable hours racked up before lunch–when I heard a loud bang. My monitor flashed and went dead and the lights went off. I looked over my shoulder in the direction of the bang and saw the smoke coming from the utility pole in the alley. Something blew up and killed the power for the block.

Crap. I had work to do.

I gathered up the laptop and headed out, thankful that I’d just replaced the Geo’s battery and restored it to starting condition. I paused at the utility pole where I’d seen the smoke and noticed a squirrel, frozen in a grimace, lying on its side in the alley just a few feet from the pole. I think I found the culprit.

Thanks to that squirrel I spent my afternoon using the St. Clair Broiler’s wifi. Since coming under new ownership they’ve raised the prices and shrunk the menu (why does every restaurant drop my favorite items?), but you gotta love the free wireless Internet.