By Paul Ford
Mike Kabakoff writes in with some concerns about Rachel's essay--a good representative email from some of the people who weren't
sure whether to believe her or not.
From: Mike Kabakoff
Sent: Friday, March 28, 2003 11:48 AM
Subject: Pittsburgh, PA
I'm writing because I just read the latest post, “what's going on in Pittsburgh.”
There are a lot of odd things going on right now domestically with repect to speech and protest, patriotism and dissent.
I thought Rachel's story brought a lot of that out through her own experience. But something also rang false. Parts of it
are just too exaggerated. I know your site's not a straight news source (or if such a source exists), but I felt compelled
So, the biggest problem I had was that Rachel said she was charged with two misdemeanors: obstructing traffic and failure
to disperse. she said that the max on the first was two years, three on the second. That's just not right. By legal definition,
you cannot be imprisoned for more than one year on a misdemeanor. Not only that, and I don't know exactly how things work
in Pittsburgh, but obstructing traffic (which in NYC is under the general heading of disorderly conduct in the pedestrian
context) and failure to disperse aren't even misdemeanors; they're “violations” for which conviction means a max of 15 days
in the pokey.
All I'm saying is that there's artistic license and then there's misinformation. People should be riled over what's happening,
but one thing the law has not come to yet is imprisoning people for two or three years for sticking around and blocking traffic.
[Nice things about Ftrain deleted for modesty's sake.]
Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some
There is a Facebook group.
You will regret following me on Twitter here.
About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit
things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.
If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am
glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.
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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford
Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose.
As a hobby I write.
Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out.
Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley.
Welcome to the Company.
“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”.
Forgot to tell you about this.
“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”.
An essay for TheMorningNews.org.
People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately.
Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford.
Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford.
Nanolaw with Daughter.
Why privacy mattered.
0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford.
It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so
that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So:
Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand
below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every
Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came
unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...)
That Shaggy Feeling.
Antilunchism, by Paul Ford.
Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford.
I'll have no one to blame but future me.
Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford.
(1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and
the historical fallacy.
The Moral Superiority of the Streetcar.
(1) Long-form journalism fixes everything. (2) The moral superiority of the streetcar. (3) I like big bus and I cannot lie.