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Word of Mouth
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Word of Mouth for 01.21.12

Photo by Leo Reynolds, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

















Part 1: Revenge of the Web-nerds

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) now in front of Congress – and its Senate counterpart bill, the Protect IP Act, or PIPA, are both stirring up vigorous debates in political, media and IT circles. As originally proposed, SOPA would allow the US Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders to bar web sites from displaying or promoting copyrighted material…including a practice we rely on around here, linking to relevant content from other outlets and from pop culture. SOPA’s very vocal opponents say it violates the 1st Amendment, and will in essence cripple the internet. This has spawned some very big players on the web to plan protests of SOPA…including Wikipedia. This latest salvo got us talking about how much we rely on Wikipedia and sites like it…and also made us wonder about other ways the debate over SOPA is playing out, and Wikipedia’s influence on the outcome. 

Brian Stelter reports on TV and digital media, and he’s been following the debate closely. Brady Carlson is our very own purveyor of all things web-related, and fills us in on some of the Wiki-memes sprouting up in response to the protest.

Part 2: The Toaster Project

The writer Douglas Adams wrote the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series In one of those books, the hero, Arthur Dent, is stranded on a planet populated by primitive people. Dent thinks to himself: I could show them the wristwatch! The internal combustion engine! The toaster! I’ll be crowned their emperor. The trouble is that without other humans around, he has no idea how to make any of those things. All he can make is a sandwich. After which he’s elevated to the high office of “sandwich maker.”

British designer Thomas Thwaites read that book as a young teen and wondered: what would I do if *I* crashed on a strange planet? The question stuck with him, along with the growing observation that we are disconnected from even basic technologies that help us lead our lives. Thomas settled on a quest to build a toaster from scratch. He documents the nine month project in a new book called, The Toaster Project.

Part 3: A Dangerous Woman: Actress, Activist, and Civil War Pinup, Adah Menken. 

News of the spectacular break-up between actress Adah Issacs Menken and bareknuckle boxing champ John Heenan splashed across the papers that year. Heenan accused his wife of bigamy. That was just one charge against the woman who was best known for bounding across the stage strapped to a horse in a skin-tight flesh colored costume. The so-called “Naked Lady’s” fame continued when photos surfaced of her posing half clad with author Alexander Dumas – it was the Victorian version of the sex tape. Adah Menken smoked in public, was courted by Mark Twain and Dickens, stole headlines from Abe Lincoln’s presidential campaign, was a pin-up girl for Union and Confederate troops, defended homosexuals, and may well be the first American master at the art of exposure. Her storied life is the topic of a new book called A Dangerous Woman: The Lifes, Loves, and Scandals of Adah Issacs Menken, America’s Original Superstar by Barbara and her husband, Michael Foster, who joins us on the program. 

Part 4: Darlingside

The “string-rock” quintet Darlingside is based in New England, but its lineage includes California pop harmonies, Appalachian root riffs, and classical arrangements all shadowing that full-on American mongrel we call rock music. After earning high praise and an eager following for a self-produced EP, Darlingside is rolling out a new subscription album, called Pilot Machines, throughout 2012. We welcome two-fifths of the band before Saturday's (January 21st)  gig in Burlington, Harris Paseltiner who plays cello, guitar and bass and sings and Hopkinton Homeboy Sam Kapalais who is also with us he plays drums and sings.

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