Sunday, April 30, 2006

New photos this week?

I was all set to take pictures of Water Place Park in Providence this Saturday. So I put my camera's batteries in the charger and went out to breakfast.

When I returned, the charge light was off, so the batteries were done, right? Nope! The wall socket died. Dang. Oh well, next weekend for sure. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures Nora and I took of Stanley's in Central Falls last weekend.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Rhode Island embarks on statewide wireless network

Quoth CNN:

Rhode Island embarks on statewide wireless network:

"Rhode Island seeks to be wireless state
In an effort to woo Boston's businesses, nation's smallest state wants border-to-border Internet access.
April 28, 2006: 4:41 PM EDT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Reuters) - America's smallest state is seeking to become its first to offer a wireless broadband network from border to border.

Backers of Rhode Island's $20 million project say it would improve services and make the state a testing ground for new business technologies.

It also comes at a time when Rhode Island's capital of Providence is stepping up efforts to lure business from Boston, about a 50-minute drive away, in neighboring Massachusetts, where office rents are among the nation's most expensive.

The Rhode Island Wireless Innovation Networks (RI-WINs) should be fully in place by 2007, providing wireless connectivity throughout state, whose land mass of about 1,045 square miles is only slightly more than double the size of metropolitan Los Angeles.

A pilot project involving state agencies, Brown University and businesses is to begin next month.

The Rhode Island network is a hybrid of WiMAX and WiFi technologies that would deliver real-time connections at a minimum speed of 1 megabit per second (Mbps), allowing users to download a typical Hollywood-length film in about 100 minutes. The system will be supported by 120 base antennas placed throughout the state.

A few antennas, each about 3 feet to 4 feet in height, are being placed in Providence and Newport on the southern coast during the initial tests.

So far, no state outside Rhode Island has sought to build a border-to-border network, said Bob Panoff, a private consultant and the RI-WINs project manager. While more cities are interested in becoming wireless, McClure said, 'there's no groundswell of consumer support for it.'"

Forgive the gigantic quoted text - I was playing with the "BlogThis!" plugin for FireFox. CNN has followed up the story here going into further detail. Apparently, the Rhode Island WiFi network will involve over 120 antennas and promises throughput of a thoroughly lousy 1 mpbs. For what it's worth, when I bought my wireless card, I found no fewer than three unsecured wireless networks to jump onto at 10 mpbs or better, and I live in what can charitably be called a working class neighborhood. While the goal of going border to border is impressive, the final product the state is looking to deliver is completely underwhelming.

Still, it's nice to beat Delaware to the punch ...

Friday, April 28, 2006

There's no place like Little Rhody

Are you one of those people who lives in Rhode Island, but hasn't really seen much beyond the Pawtucket to Warwick I-95 corridor? Maybe this tour is for you.

For $30 per adult ($20 per child), a professional tour guide will take you one one of 26 possible tours throughout the Ocean State, from regions as diverse as the Blackstone Valley, Block Island, South County and the East Bay. For people who don't want to go through the hassle of driving around Rhode Island, these tour packages offer a unique opportunity to see the hidden jewels of the 13th state.

Tickets will be sold through May 6, and can be purchased through AAA of Southern New England by calling 877-874-7845 (option 1 at the prompt).

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Brown goes belly up

Na, na, na, na! Hey, hey, hey! Gooo-oood-byye!

Don't quit your day job, Matt. Actually, you could do me a favor and leave that, too.

Food Fight

A dispute over white rice has gone from food court to Rhode Island Superior Court.

The dispute boils down to this: the owners of the Providence Place mall granted a Chinese restaurant in the food court an "exclusive license" to sell white rice "boiled or steamed" in their lease. Since then, Indian and Japanese eateries have come to the food court. Have you ever been to a Japanese restaurant that didn't have steamed white short grain rice? I doubt anybody has. Naturally, the owners of the Chinese eatery took umbrage, and since it apparently could not be resolved amicably, it's gone to court.

The Providence Journal (registration required) has all the bizarre details on Little Rhody's biggest food fight.

I have no idea how common the practice of granting exclusive rights to sell specific foods in mall food courts is, but I think I should get in on the ground floor and buy the rights to sell things made of "ground or milled wheat" and take all the sandwich places in the mall to court. I think the claims would stick like white on ... well, I don't like puns, so fill in the rest yourself.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Donald wets his beak

The Providence Journal (registration required) is reporting that overexposed New York blowhard Donald Trump is now an official lobbyist in Rhode Island after one of his underlings paid the $5 registration fee.

The Narragansett tribe's casino issue is still up in the air, and The Donald will be damned if he sees his interests unrepresented. Good for him, I guess?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Dictators of the World

On a note completely unrelated to Rhode Island, I have started a second blog devoted to another of my unhealthy interests: dictators. If you ever wanted to know anything about the world's nastiest autocrats, this blog is for you:

Dictators of the World!

So long Jamestown Bridge (redux)

Linda Dee has some fantastic pictures of the Jamestown bridge demolition over on Flickr. Check them out right here.

Ocean State politics roundup

Yeah, I know I should stop picking on Matt Brown's doomed Senate campaign, but after reading his imbecilic drivel at the Huffington Post, I resolved to flog horse corpse until it becomes Seabiscuit jerky. As I've posted earlier, Brown is almost completely broke, having blown his wad early in an effort to gain TV exposure to place higher on a Brown University poll. Brown completely failed to gain any momentum after getting his name out early, and he's trailing Sheldon Whitehouse by double digits.

So how's Brown going to turn it around? By campaigning in the poorest city in the state - and one with the smallest percentage of people who are eligible to vote. That's just the thing to do when your campaign is trailing far behind in money and votes, Matt. When combined with a newfound refusal to talk to the press, and his disdain for the party whose nomination he's ostensibly seeking, you have to wonder: what has Matt Brown has been doing since his campaign self-destructed?

On the Republican side, RINO incumbent Senator Lincoln Chafee is not actually running as a Democrat, but he's certainly got actual Republicans in Rhode Island fooled. The Providence Journal (registration required) reports that Peggy Sharpe, a wealthy philanthropist from North Kingstown, has been stumping for Chafee by reminding voters currently registered as Democrats that they have until June 14 to register as "unaffiliated" (formerly "independent") so that they can vote for Chafee in the Republican primaries. Senator Chafee's wife Stephanie has apparently made the same appeal to Ocean State Democrats to register as unaffilated voters. The logic here is the Republican primaries are only open to voters who are registered Republicans or have registered with no party affiliation.

Unlike Brown's idea to campaign to poor people who are ineligible to vote, Chafee's move is very shrewd. While Chafee has infuriated nearly all the registered Republicans in the state by exhibiting a complete lack of solid political principles, he remains popular with Democrats who have noted that Chafee votes far more like one of them. Chafee would doubtlessly choose to run as a Democrat as a first choice, but one suspects he doesn't have the time or inclination to get involved with the state's party machinery from the ground floor up. This is why appealing to Democrats to help shift the primary nomination in his direction makes sense - even if it's disastrous for long term future of the GOP in Rhode Island.

Sadly, Chafee's bonafide Republican opponent (Cranston mayor Steve Laffey) appears only to be reaching out to actual Republicans. That's not a bad strategy, but it's enough to make actual Republicans want to gouge out their eyes with a spork. Laffey is counting on his Republican bonafides, and the fact that the registered Republican base is sorely tempted to risk losing the "Republican" seat held by Chafee to nominate Laffey. Since there are far more Democrats who can unaffiliate than there are registered Republicans, Chafee is obviously betting that numbers alone can help beat the party faithful in the primaries.

I know that asking Chafee to be a Republican is way too much to ask for, but even I didn't expect the good Senator to sink this low while trolling for the nomination. Essentially, as a Republican running against the Republican party. Sadly, the national party is throwing their weight and money behind Chafee, with the logic that it's easier to get a RINO incumbent elected in Rhode Island than it is to elect an actual conservative in such an overwhelmingly Democratic state. Normally, I would agree with these pragmatists, but frankly, Chafee leans further to the left than most of his Democratic colleagues, thereby defeating the purpose of having a "Republican" re-elected in the first place. If Rhode Island is going to elect another left leaning non-entity to the Senate, then it may as well be an actual Democrat.

Finally, some welcome news from the world of Rhode Island politics: Robert J. Healey Jr., the candidate for Lt. Governor, says that if elected, he would try to abolish the office Lt. Governor altogether. Healey asks that anybody thinking of donating to his campaign would be better off donating the money to charity. Quoth Healey:

"Since I am running for the Lieutenant Governor of Rhode Island, and since I intend to abolish the office, I have no political plums to put on the table. I won't be able to give someone's drunken, deadbeat brother-in-law a job or hire an idiot just because he or she is the son or daughter of some politically connected hack. This being so, I cannot see any reason for anyone other than myself to spend money in support of my campaign."

Wow. I'm tempted, especially considering my distaste for the current Lt. Governor of Rhode Island (and current gubernatorial candidate), Charles Fogarty. At any rate, Healey certainly figured out what most people do with the job besides riding around the state waiting for the governor to die.

You can read Healey's blog here.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

When Ivy Leaguers drink and litter

The king of beers (Providence, RI)
Originally uploaded by NetParrot.

Brown University is an Ivy League school, and a damned expensive one. Perhaps we are to infer that their students cannot afford good beer, and rely instead on Olde English (pictured above), Genesee and Busch Light? How many discarded cheap beers could you find littered on the ground on a given Saturday morning? At any rate, I have fresh pictures from Fox Point and College Hill locales in Providence available on Flickr.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Jamestown Bridge demolition

Viewpoint Heuristics caught the million dollar shot during Tuesday's demolition of the center span of the Jamestown bridge. You couldn't ask for better shots than these.

The Providence Journal has kindly assembled a "digital extra" about the bridge, and while their still photos aren't as good as the one above, they have a nice flash segment of the span collapsing.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Brown's gone bust

Today's Providence Journal (registration required) has pointed out the obvious: Matt Brown's Senate campaign is dead in the water. According to the Journal, Brown has laid off nearly all of his campaign staff, and ignored a reporter who had gone to his home on the East Side seeking an update. Ouch.

All of this comes on the heels of Brown's stunningly stupid campaign financing tricks forced him to return enormous chunks of change back to the Hawaii and Maine state Democratic parties. if Brown weren't so terrified of the FEC, who knows where his campaign war chest would stand today? Will Brown be found wandering around Providence with a five o'clock shadow, Mad Dog 20-20 on his breath, muttering about evil right wing conspiracies bringing him down? Only time will tell.

Just don't worry, Matt: you'll still have an exciting career sounding like an imbecile at the Huffington Post.

On a personal note, I'm done with jury duty, and alas, there was just no need for me. I've gone home $30 richer, and satisfied that I've done my civic duty for the next three years. I was actually sort of hoping to be put on the jury for the biggest trial in Rhode Island, but that's been postponed until June.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Jury Duty

I spent the entire day, but alas, I wasn't picked. Perhaps tomorrow. I certainly wish I'd brought my camera to take pictures of all the goodness of downtown Providence, but it's obviously not allowed..

The photo above is NOT mine. It's a part of the enthralling Richard Benjamin collection, which I urge you to examine at your leisure. Another shot of the courthouse appears here as well.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

How about now? New photos? Huh?

Lincoln 028
Originally uploaded by NetParrot.

No, no new photos, and yes, I suck. This entire week has been hectic. I get what could be a respite this week from staying up all night in the form of a jury duty summons for Monday.

If I'm back from my civic duty, I'll have an update (and doubtlessly some new photos) by midweek.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Where are the new pictures?

There aren't any, I'm afraid. Rainy weather kept me from taking new pictures this weekend, and work will likely prevent me from getting new ones next weekend, either. Mea maxima culpa!

In a few weeks, I will be sure to be taking new photos. Spring has sprung, and the rains are falling, thus transforming skeletal and brown into budding and green. Yes, it's a cliche, but I haven't owned a camera long enough to have any good pictures of these parts in the springtime, so there you have it.

As for the news, the Ocean State is breathlessly awaiting the violent demolition of a landmark, the Boston Celtics are headed to the NBA draft lottery (ugh!) and the fine folks at have compiled a new article on various Rhode Island oddities, including our worst-in-the-nation driving skills and Attorney General Patrick Lynch's affinity for Spider-Man.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

A day in Bristol

Have I really let a week lapse between posts? I'm sorry, I should know better than that. Last weekend, I had no new photos, but I return this weekend with fresh pictures of the Ocean State!

This Saturday, I had the pleasure of taking pictures of Colt State Park in Bristol, the gem of the Rhode Island state park system. A gift from the heirs of the Colt's Manufacturing Company, this beautiful park sits on 460 acres by the sea in America's smallest county.

As always, I have put the photos up on Flickr to enjoy.