Bringing it all back home: segregation-era local TV news

Virginia Center for Digital History Research: Television News of the Civil Rights Era. This new archive at the University of Virginia provides film and primary documents from two local Virginia television stations between 1950 and 1970. The archive gives you a chance to explore one of the Old Dominion’s least proud moments in recent memory, the so-called “Massive Resistance” campaign that sought to fight desegregation and generally resist federal civil rights initiatives.

Particularly shameful to me: a 1958 clip showing then-Superintendent of Newport News’s public schools R.O. Nelson explaining that having three applications from black students to enter a segregated school meant that the city didn’t have to take more direct action to end segregation, and that it planned to continue with business as usual. (There is to this day an elementary school named after Superintendent Nelson in Newport News. In my day, we nicknamed it “B.O. Nelson,” not knowing the deeper reasons we should have had for feeling antipathy to it.) Also: the glossary entry for Newport News noting its role in resisting salary equity for black teachers.

As I learned in 1993 researching the archives of the Daily Press for a paper in Julian Bond’s civil rights class, there’s nothing like finding out what little bits of nastiness were happening in your own home town to really bring home the magnitude of injustice.

(In the interests of completeness, here’s that paper.)

Microsoft Blog Portal 2.0

Jana’s Joint: Blog OPML. The updated version of the Blog Portal (which I worked on right before I left the company—I was there to ship the 1.0 version) brings OPML for collections of Microsoft blogs out of the realm of “easter egg” and into the user interface in an incredibly intuitive way:

The fun part is you can go create your own OPML feeds by using the search function on the page. Each product search for blogs will generate a feed.

So, cool stuff. Next: incorporate the blog search results into regular search. Right, guys? sideways smiley

Mourning: becalmed electric (home improvement projects)

I found a great post on one of my favorite houseblogs, The Old Man and the Street, called Rewired about a total rewiring job that he did. As I read I felt a great sadness, because it was a project I would never be able to do in this house. Apparently Arlington requires that all wiring projects be done by a licensed electrician.

I can understand the rationale for doing that (fire safety, etc.), but other localities take care of those issues with a permit+inspection process. All I really wanted to do was to wire my workshop/storage room, which would require:

  1. Installation of a subpanel in the shop.
  2. Connecting the subpanel to a breaker on the main board (requiring me to fish cable across the ceiling—not a big deal as the access holes in the plaster have already been made at both ends).
  3. Installing two 20-amp GFCI circuits to the subpanel, one dedicated one for the miter saw and one to feed the electrical outlets near the workbench. (I also need to have an emergency switch on one or both of those circuits.)
  4. Install a separate circuit for an overhead light (badly needed)

Not trivial, but certainly manageable, and a project that I was looking forward to doing. Now I need to pay a contractor instead. Sigh.

Old South Church

old south church, boston

Last night was my first service as part of the choir at Old South Church. It felt a bit like a homecoming, somehow. We’ve been looking for a church since we got back to the east coast. The challenge for us has been to find a church with a traditional liturgy (in our opinion, a PowerPoint slide showing the lyrics to the song that you’re to sing along with the Christian “praise band” up front does not better a hymnal and an organist) and progressive theology.

Our challenge was made more difficult because, as our Seattle pastor noted when I asked him about Boston area churches, “we Presbyterians aren’t too strong in New England.” There are fewer than ten Presbyterian Church (USA) congregations in the greater Boston area, and after visiting them all we were disappointed. Either they had no music program, or their pastor didn’t challenge us, or we just plain didn’t feel at home.

So it was that we returned to Old South, which is an old, old Congregationalist cum UCC church. How old? The congregation dates back more than 100 years before the Declaration of Independence, to 1669, and their current church building, which is the “new building,” since it was completed in 1875. The pastors are challenging and progressive, as befits a congregation about whom John Greenleaf Whittier once wroteSo, long as Boston shall Boston be,/And her bay-tides rise and fall,/Shall freedom stand in the Old South Church/And plead for the rights of all!”. The new senior minister, Nancy S. Taylor, is already gaining something of a reputation in Boston for her clarion voice on matters of social justice (you can read some of her sermons, such as this recent one on St. Valentine and the conscience of the church, and judge whether it’s a deserved reputation).

Further, the church has a solid music program. I’ve been consistently impressed with the choices of repertoire, and though the choir is a bit small (with me, there are four tenors—maybe five) it’s musical. I’m looking forward to continuing to sing with them.