Twitter 1891

Social media? It was around long before Twitter and Facebook. Granted it moved at a slower pace; columns like this in an 1891 issue of the Altamont Enterprise contained posts that are not so much different from what we see today:

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A dozen or so local towns are covered in the “Vicinity Correspondence” section, and besides word of mouth, in its day this is how small bits of news were passed about. When you think about it, “This place is now without a shoemaker,” wouldn’t be a bad tweet.

Just like today, there were certainly people who thought all this information was useless. They’d probably shake their heads and say, “Christ! I don’t care whose farm Norman Miller is going to work on any more than I care what he ate for breakfast!” That may be, but I bet most people turned to page two and read that first. It’s interesting even 125 years later.

Ink Spot

When Metroland collapsed it left a void in the Capital Region media market. It felt odd being left without an arts weekly after all these years.

Thank goodness, the Spotlight has stepped up to fill the gap! Sure, you’ve all read the Spotlight, longtime purveyor’s of suburban news, and now they’ve jumped into the arts and culture weekly business.

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When I found this in Starbucks, it was certainly exciting. Just look at that edgy graphic on the front page! This obviously isn’t your grandma’s Spotlight!

Oh, wait — actually, it is.

Yeah. it’s pretty, pretty mild — and don’t go looking in the back for Savage Love or racy classified ads. A few things you will find advertised:

  • Dentists (two)
  • “Tools for Caregivers Day”
  • Chair lifts
  • Alzheimers’s memory screenings

The paper did contain a couple of decent local stories and serviceable arts listings — but certainly not with the scope that Metroland did them. On the down side, there were a couple of pages of provided content and press releases. Gotta fill that space.

The Spot is a fine thing to pick up for free and browse through while you drain your coffee, like the recently horse/cow confused 518 Life. But there’s something about that graphic that bugs me. It promises cool, but what we get is more comfy than edgy — and that might be puzzling to strangers who pick up it up expecting a peek into alt-Albany.

Foto Friday

Sidewalk Serenade

Thanks to Google Maps, I figured out that the downtown lot where I park for work is .39 miles to my office. And thanks to Albany, I really need to watch my step.

I’ve written about the wasteland that has been dubbed the city’s Parking Lot District — and like any true wasteland, there are hazards. Like the sidewalks on Green Street, which, to put it mildly, could use a little work. How bad could it be?

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In short, it’s so bad that people have to walk in the street.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan probably doesn’t care what some non-resident thinks of her sidewalks, but I’ll tell her anyway: they suck. You’ve got a lot of people who need them to get to work, and it’s disgraceful that they’re in this condition. And don’t tell me that the sidewalks are not the city’s responsibility, not when your damn parking meters are all over them.

OK, done ranting. Carry on and mind the sidewalks.

Ask a Stupid Question

On our local talk radio station this week, the host said he couldn’t fathom why people don’t join him and the millions of others who support Donald Trump. He asked, “Do they think we’re stupid?”

Yes, actually, you hit the nail on the head: we think you’re stupid. Any other questions?

And not merely stupid, but dangerous.

I’ve made fun of these local radio goofballs before, but it was just harmless fun. They’d rant and say dumb things, but it was just entertainment. That was before they pitched a madman to be our next president.

It’s easy to be dismissive of local talk radio when you hear the numbskulls who call in to agree with the host, but it’s those who don’t call who worry me. In this town, many influential people listen to this garbage and some of them even advertise on the station. Business is business.

If you need proof that ignorance sells, there you have it: talk radio and Donald Trump. In the oft misquoted words of H.L. Mencken:

“No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”

Help Wanted

cows

518 Life, the Times Union’s free monthly magazine about the Capital Region, is seeking an editor. Knowledge of the Albany-Schenectady-Troy area is helpful. Must know the difference between a cow and a horse.

Foto Friday

Spring Awakening

After running through a winter of pitch black mornings, there’s now a bit of color in the sky by the time I finish. The winter is not just dark, but silent — so the sound of a bird singing at 5:25 AM was surprising.

It was just a single voice in the trees, and hopefully a sign of the seasons– not just a robin caught up in a moment of irrational exuberance.

The dawn chorus is still weeks away, but we have heard a soloist.

Smile

Nobody’s interested in hearing another opinion about the UAlbany bus donnybrook — especially not from some dopey blogger — but what really caught my attention was learning that there are 12 security cameras on a CDTA bus.

Well, that’s a fun fact!

Think about it for a second. You’ve probably been on a city bus, now imagine 12 cameras keeping an eye on such a small area. One’s probably on the driver and one or two may point outside, but inch-by-inch, is there anywhere with more video surveillance, besides a bank?

The takeaway: CDTA has their eye on you — and that doesn’t make me unhappy. I ride the bus occasionally, and not through Albany’s finest neighborhoods. If cameras make the bus safer, add even more.

Still, it seems interesting. Is there that much trouble on these buses — and are the security cameras a precaution or a reaction?