in 1913, my hometown in machias, maine celebrated the 150th(!) anniversary of its founding by gathering the 150 or so town residents for a giant panorama. they’re all dressed up in costumes presumably getting ready for founding days parade/festival. i can spend hours looking at the panorama imagining stories about those in the photograph. there’s at least a half dozen stories just in this shot alone.
it’s strange to think my ancestral relatives are likely somewhere out there in the photo peering back at me ( my ancestors were there at the founding of the town ). maybe even one of them is the kid in middle!
“But when I started to dig into it, I discovered that the chicken has actually played more roles across human history, in more societies, than any other animal, and I include the dog and the cat and cows and pigs. The chicken is a kind of a zelig of human history, which pops up in all kinds of different societies.” national geographic
with all the talk about the PRISM surveillance program, i recalled that somewhere i probably still had an interesting t-shirt buried in a box from my days around 1998-2000 when i worked for a large technology company that happened to be a member of something known as the microelectronics and computer technology corporation (mcc) which was as wikipedia correctly states, “the first, and – at one time – one of the largest, computer industry research and development consortia in the United States.”
mcc developed a variety of “precompetitive” intellectual property and technologies for consortium members who would then take them “in house” for commercialization. one of the technologies developed by mcc was known as the infosleuth agent system which was meant to “provides a unifying framework for selectively and dynamically leveraging and combining fuctionality provided by disparate classes of systems”.
three guesses who would be interested in that. the first two don’t count.
sure enough one project members was working on a large-scale distributed traffic monitoring system that “was couched as a massive distributed subscription & notification problem”.
i was always amusingly fascinated by the similarity between the infosleuth agent icon and the logo for the seminal german industrial band einstürzende neubauten.
i was in austin in 2000 when mcc disbanded and the various consortium members heard final project updates. the infosleuth folks made these delightfully creepy t-shirts that gave away the champions of much of the precompetitive infosleuth work.
“there is always a battle between good and evil agents.”
remarkablly prescient, choosing distributed network agents -in a cloud!
that was a long time ago, and i’m sure there been lots of work done since then ( e.g. see this ) but the infosleuth page is still up on a site for a wholly owned subsidiary for telcordia ( formerly bell communications research ) which has changed hands a few times over the years but was a mcc member and certainly is no stranger to developing information systems for very special government sponsors. it makes me wonder if there’s some small piece of infosleuth living on in PRISM.
this american life has an outstanding episode, “Little War on the Prairie”, on the dakota war of 1862 which led to the public hanging of 38 sioux, the largest mass execution in american history in mankato minnesota. i’m not a minnesotan, but it’s amazing to me that i’ve never heard of the battle or what happened in the ironically named sibley park ( listen to the episode to learn why ). there’s no mention of the event on the mankato sibley park page. i wonder if there’s even a marker. it’s a somber reminder of all the battles ( and massacres ) that took place all around us in the upper midwest in the name of manifest destiny. indeed, the bad axe massacre took place in victory wisconsin less than 30 miles from where i live now.
on a trip to my ancestral homeland in machias, maine my mother showed me one of many photos she has been entrusted with that tell the story of her mother’s side of the family which have been handed down from matriarch to matriarch. they are simply incredible.
they were written by a woman named grace who, i believe was a cousin to my grandmother’s mother ( my mother will correct me if i’m wrong ).
this one tells the story of elaie(sp?) fuller berry means who daughter of william berry jr, descendant of william berry who was the a member of founders of portsmouth, new hampshire and newburyport, massachusetts. she was also the direct descendant of benjamin berry who was the first white child born in machias, maine and his father, was one of the “original 16” founders of machias in the 1630s ( i fail at geneology because i can’t quite decipher the relationship between william and benjamin berry ).
william berry came over to the colonies from devonshire with the “mason colony”, led by john mason in 1630 settling in what would become portsmouth. she claims they brought the first cattle to new england and notes that the mason colony “had the contempt of the [massachusetts] colony which said they came to fish and not to pray.”
given my love of taking photos and telling stories, i think i really would have gotten along nicely with grace.
as is the case with many places in the area, machias was named by the passamaquoddy people. the name machias means, “bad little falls”, a reference to the falls the run through town. while not the most impressive falls you might ever see, i imagine the passamaquoddy wanting to warn folks about the stretch of rive that might result in a bad little fall if you ever went over the falls.
turns out, the falls were also a great location for setting up a saw mill and the town was officially “settled” in 1763 ( although it has a long history prior to that date ), when one of odin’s relatives joined with 16 others came to the area to build a saw mill next to the bad little falls.