Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Meet Your Guest Blogger

I’m traveling to Ghana once again with a group of undergraduates, where we’ll be teaching 200 African schoolchildren computer literacy skills (click here or here for videos about student experiences at the Boston College-Ejisu Computer Camp). More than teaching the students, however we will be the beneficiaries: we’ll learn about Ghanian culture, family life, and the nation’s long democratic history. I’m looking forward to traveling and immersing myself in Ghanian culture (and Burkina Faso and Mali, too).

All to say that I’ve asked my friend David to be a guest blogger for the next month. David has an ever-curious mind, like-minded politics, and an all-around great sense of humor. Wondering what to expect? Here’s David blogging about a typical (or atypical?) ride on the T.

Looking forward to David’s posts. Come on back to read more.


Filed under: africa, Blogroll, , , ,

Redefining Etiquette on the Web

Who gets to determine what’s appropriate–or inappropriate–on the Web?

Brianna Snyder writes in The New Haven Advocate a quick, thoughtful study of the state of anonymous commenting. How to protect free speech while limiting bullying (which has prompted new anti-bullying laws in my home state of Massachusetts)? When is a comment contributing to dialogue, rather than simply inflaming it? What’s the difference between internet terrorism and really strong emotion?

Many of the major news outlets like The New York Times and powerful internet conglomerates like Gawker Media have begun to establish gatekeeping systems: through tiers of commentors, or moderator-approved posts. On my own blog, I’ve debated whether to delete hateful comments or to allow them to further the conversation. No clear-cut decisions.

Complicating the issue is the dichotomy of the “Us versus Them” mentality. If, as a commenter, your opinion falls in the minority, you are often faced (or facing off) with a mob. As Snyder writes:

Chances are very good that you are already familiar with this unfortunate aspect of Internet culture, the Lord of the Flies-ness of it, the maddening, sometimes frightening, and impossible-to-read nature of online comment and message boards.

Is it bad business to regulate or discontinue anonymous posting? Or does it cut to the heart of a liberal democracy?

Filed under: censorship, media, web 2.0, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Invisible People: Blogging Homeless Lives

In addition to the brief, harrowing videos and the black and white photographs on Invisible People, there’s a tagline at the top of the right column in light blue letters that will grab your attention.

“Homeless Has A Name.”

Mark Horvath’s blog chronicles the stories of homeless people on the streets of L.A., Denver, and road trips across the country (including homeless people in my hometown of Boston). Horvath himself was homeless when he lost his job working in the television industry.

You’d expect stories of heartbreak and misery, which, of course, there are. But often the stories are first-person journalism at its best. In the story of Michael, whose video was at the top of the blog when I last looked, is the story of a street musician who’s been living on the streets for more than 20 years.

Michael never panhandles; instead he plays his acoustic guitar on the streets. If you listen to him, it’s not hard to imagine how he makes enough money to get by. But recently, the Denver police have been cracking down on ordinances that ban him from playing music between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., despite being quieter than the loud buses and bars around him.

To listen to Michael tell his story of a policewoman who’d been following him (literally) to lock him up reveals the injustice of our system. What crime has Michael committed living on the streets? How is jail a better option than more resources toward human and social services?


Filed under: homelessness, social justice, , , , ,



» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
March 2018
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Pics from Africa 2010

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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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