Archive for August 2010
[Woo hoo: my first post entirely from my new Ubuntu operating system! No more windows! Ooooh the thrill ]
Ten Thousand Villages has been in the Fair Trade business since the 1950′s. A long time. A pioneer. Their growing chain of Fair Trade retail stores sell amazing art, handcrafts, rugs and furniture as well as coffee, chocolate and sugar from all around the world.
I kicked nicotine nearly three years ago, but I confess I am still very much a caffeine junkie.
I need my morning coffee.
A few years ago my niece did an assignment on caffeine addiction and withdrawal and I was one of the guinea pigs in her caffeine dependency experiment; which meant I had to reduce my intake… oh the horror. It wasn’t pretty; lets not go there.
I first learned about Fair Trade through Oxfam’s “Make Trade Fair” campaign, in which a variety of celebrities allowed a variety of fair trade products to be dumped on them for dramatic photographs. Here’s Alanis Morissette:
At that time it was quite hard to find most Fair Trade goods. Although some national brand coffee companies claimed to carry Fair Trade Coffee, none were available in any of the local grocery stores, so for the longest time my fair trade coffee came from Ten Thousand Villages. They offered a selection of beans and ground coffee from different countries and companies.
One of the best things about Fair Trade coffee is that it is always far fresher than “name brand” coffee.
Another favorite coffee source is Planet Bean in Guelph, and when you’re near the roastery the gorgeous aroma wafting out is like a tiny bit of heaven. I bought an excellent Planet Bean cannister for beans with an ingenious interior seal that adjusts downward so your coffee beans stay fresher longer. My favorite Planet Bean coffee is currently Cafe Feminino.
My original “regular” Ten Thousand Villages coffee was Café San Miguel from the selection offered by Level Ground Trading in BC. Then one day it was gone. I was told by Ten Thousand Villages staff that it had simply been repackaged — rebranded — as the new “Ten Thousand Villages brand” coffee. But when I tried it, it was not as good as it used to be. So back to the process of trying the other types of Fair Trade coffee on offer. The Just Us! French Roast was good, but their Italian Roast was spectacular. A new favorite was born. It was a bit more expensive but I thought worth it, and for a change I was now supporting an East Coast Fair Trade Coffee Co-op.
But even when you have a favorite, every now and again it’s nice to mix it up and try the others. Or try new brands that came out.
Maybe a year ago the massive Shoppers Drug Mart chain started carrying Fair Trade Coffee, in the form of another BC brand called Kicking Horse Coffee. This makes it possible to be able to get Fair Trade Coffee in rural areas on a regular basis, which is wonderful. I’ve tried several of their dark roasts, but I’m inclining toward Hoodo Jo as the current favorite. It is wonderful to be able to buy Fair Trade Coffee so locally I can walk there.
Which is not to say that I was planning on giving up on Ten Thousand Villages. At least I wasn’t until they decided not to carry Just Us! anymore. The tale told was that they are trying to ease out of the coffee products and concentrate on the other products. Of course they are keeping the one line of coffee… the Level Ground Coffee. I’ve explained to people in the store that this means I won’t be there so often. I might be going there for coffee, but chances are I’d walk out with a musical instrument or object d’art every time. More than one staffer has told me that I’m not the only customer uphappy about not being able to get the coffee I want any more. So I pop in to see on occasion, but it’s no go.
The thing is, Ten Thousand Villages is not supposed to be a typical retailer; its an arm of the Mennonite Central Committee. I can’t imagine why they would make a choice like that What disturbs me the most is that this seems to be a case of Ten Thousand Villages starting to act like a for profit retail operation with an eye on the bottom line.
But most if not all of the staff at any Ten Thousand Villages location are volunteers, donating their time freely precisely because they believe they can change the world. I would have thought that this is one retail organization that would not be behaving like the average retailer with an eye only for the bottom line. Instead of supporting a variety of fair trade producers, they seem to have chosen to support just one. Which seems to negate the whole point of Fair Trade, which is kind of like the retail version of Net Neutrality.
They may have some misguided idea of keeping their bottom line in check, but when you’re in the world changing business, this is the kind of thing that you don’t do. It’s too bad, but they have certainly lost most of my business. Because the coffee was what brought me through the door.
What triggered this post– although Fair Trade is one of the topics I’ve intended to tackle from the outset — was the fact that I was out of fresh roasted coffee beans today.
So today was the day I cracked my bottle of Fair Trade instant coffee. It’s another Just Us! product, and it’s been sitting in the cupboard for just such an emergency. Probably for close to a year. And I have to tell you, I pretty much assumed that it would be just as dreadful as other instant coffee. But it’s not.
It’s actually pretty good. Who’d a thought.
As a parent I don’t think it’s a good idea, for any of our kids. You know, I’ve heard rumours that in many civilized countries post secondary education is fully funded by the state.
But what is worse is that it is totally unreasonable. What Access Copyright is demanding copyright payments for is ludicrous. For Instance:
Incredibly, the tariff defines a “copy” to include “posting a link or hyperlink to Digital Copy”. So, that would presumably include any website with copyrighted material. For example, take this blog – please! AC apparently expects to be paid whenever a professor posts a link on his or her website to my blog, or Michael Geist’s blog or the Globe and Mail or eBay. That is simply absurd.”
The tariff purports to licence linking to materials, despite the fact that no licence is or should be needed for such activities. It charges for displays which are not copies, lacks an exclusion for fair dealing (as is found in the current tariff), provides additional protection for digital locks, and features extensive, onerous reporting requirements.”
I don’t have time to be elegant, but here is my objection:
Acting Secretary General
56 Sparks Street, Suite 800
Dear Mr. McDougall:
I only found out about this today, so I’ll be brief.
I sincerely hope that you decline this Access Copyright tariff increase. I think the amount is excessive and extortionate, instead I would appreciate it if you would look into reducing the amount of the tariff already paid to Access Copyright.
I am a writer, who is just getting up to speed on a lot of copyright issues because I haven’t made any income as a writer in fifteen years because I was fortunate enough to be able to take a long family raising hiatus. It is in the capacity of a parent I am writing primarily.
As a writer, I am not a member of Access Copyright, but I doubt I would want to be. I have not looked into it closely but things I’ve read about Access Copyright have made me very very uncomfortable.
As a parent, I have volunteered and/or served on the P.T.A. of the schools my child has attended. I’ve seen elementary library staff slashed to the point that I don’t think any elementary school in Ontario has a teacher-librarian available to students. Volunteers like me and a few lower paid staffers have been left running school libraries. In Ontario this unfortunate process coincided with standardized testing which invariable produces the result that we need better literacy among our children. I am confident that you will understand the dreadful irony in this.
Education lays the foundation for our future. It isn’t like Canadian post secondary students need this. This will be bad for students, economically adding the already high cost of post secondary education in Canada.
I realize that many policy makers don’t think a tiny sum like another forty five dollars will make a difference. But I have to tell you that is wrong. We are already losing plenty of bright worthy students who chose to go from high school directly into the workforce precisely because post secondary education is already too expensive. And every potential Nobel Laureate who ends up driving a cab because they didn’t want to spend the rest of their lives paying off student loans is a blow to Canada. To our future as a nation.
I believe that Canadian Copyright law requires changes, but not the sort of changes that Access Copyright would like to see. But time is short, so I don’t have time to get into that here. As I understand it our existing copyright is plenty strong, even before any changes.
As a writer, and the parent of a potential writer, I find the idea of allowing Access Copyright to license rights it doesn’t have in respect of repertoire it doesn’t have to be seriously detrimental to the future of this great nation.
This is not a good idea. Again, please consider reducing the Access Copyright Tariff.
Laurel L. Russwurm
p.s. I will also be publishing this formal objection in my blog, Laurel L. Russwurm
The EFF is looking for nominations for Pioneer Awards which will recognize leaders on the electronic frontier who are extending freedom and innovation in the realm of information technology. I don’t know if they will make posthumous awards or not, but if they do, I hope they’ll consider my nomination for:
The very first time I saw the Electronic Frontier Foundation blue ribbon badge was on Martin Bosworth’s boztopia website (and it’s been on mine ever since). I stumbled upon Martin accidentally when I was trying to learn about usage based billing (what you call metered broadband) and just beginning to learn about internet freedom, net neutrality etc. He patiently explained things to me, a total stranger, a noob from a different country.
He wrote an article (which may or may not be lost forever since his ISP started shutting his site down before his grieving family realized it was happening) about the “digital divide.” Martin explained how metered broadband will make the gap between rich and poor even worse. Utility companies have begun to provide economic incentives to customers who pay bills online, which leaves those who can’t even afford to be online paying larger bills and being even worse off.
Martin was the 7th person I subscribed to on the Identi.ca microblogging service. Although I never met Martin in person, he certainly made an impression on me, and I believe a great many others as well. I was shocked and saddened to learn of his untimely passing at the age of 35.
I believe Martin Bosworth was both a humanitarian and an internet freedom fighter who worked hard to promote positive technical, social, economic, or cultural aspects of the Internet and the world, which is why I’m nominating him for a Pioneer Award.
If you like to write and you’re online at all, chances are that you belong to a microblogging service called Twitter. Twitter has a huge writing community, most probably because writers are often by nature physically isolated. Twitter has a whole variety of “Live Chats” allowing writers and readers to chat about things of mutual interest. Most live chats have an associated blog, and many post transcripts of the chats. The one I’m having the most fun with at the moment is called #Story Craft because it has (besides interesting participants) that little bit extra: the storycraft challenge. Something the participants can do in the week between chats.
This week’s Storycraft Challenge was particularly interesting to me because it had to do with a narrative voice I was previously unaware of, one called “Second Person”. Since a few of my beta readers started out telling me how much they disliked first person narratives, but went on to be surprised at the fact that my “first person various” narrative voice actually worked, I couldn’t resit giving the exercise a try.
So here it is, an excerpt from “Inconstant Moon” that isn’t really. First person converted to second person. I’m not quite sure if it works.
” You will leave, so let yourself out the back door into the service hall and lock the deadbolt behind you. Walking toward the back entrance. Don’t worry about the fact the store was so quiet tonight. Listen to your heels echoing eerily on the tiles as you pass the trash compactor they keep for cardboard and packing. Be thankful the garbage in this wing is just paper and dust. You know how much it reeks in the cafeteria’s back hall.
Wait, didn’t you realize that the reason the store was so quiet tonight was because of the attack? That’s why you haven’t seen a lone woman walking anywhere all day. Only you you bimbo. There it is, right in front of you: the exit door.
Thats right, it’s the door that opens out into the faculty parking lot. Push it open and take a good look, girl. The EMPTY faculty parking lot. Are you out of your fucking mind? You aren’t really going out there. By yourself. Are you?
Of course it’s empty at this time of night silly. All the faculty are home in bed or out carousing. And you can even probably guess which are which. But none of them are out there. Just the odd oil stain for company, girl. Oh yeah, and those lovely bushes on the side. Trees. Trees are not your friends here girl. Clearly they are your enemy. They’ve increased the danger a thousand times. They’ve made the lights almost useless because the heavy foliage hasn’t fallen from the trees yet.
Maybe it wasn’t a big deal when the trees were twigs, but now they are all as tall or taller than the light standards. Are you scared yet? You should be.
Oh yeah, and don’t forget the shadows. Great dark expanses you could easily hide a dozen Jason the Rippers in. Shadows, Lots of shadows. Of course you don’t need a dozen. One bastard predator is all it takes. And you’re fucked. But not in a good way.
So is that why you’re standing there like a lump? Staring at an oil slick and s bunch of litter.
What happened to the brave girl. The self assured one. The fearless writer of iron principles. You’re just a wretched little mouse after all, aren’t you girl. No guts, eh?
Legs of Jello. Don’t be a wimp.
Don’t you want to step out there? Score one for our side. No? Uh uh.
Maybe you know that if this was a movie you’d be yelling ‘Go back you idiot!’
But it isn’t a damn movie. There is no music to warn you that Jason is just through that door. Scary music, go back. Happy music, take the usual route.
Stay on the Road. Keep clear of the moors. Moors. Wait a minute you goof. This is Ontario, there are no moors. Where did that come from? Oh, right… American Werewolf in London. God, your mother was right. You watched too many horror movies when you were a kid.
Don’t you know that it doesn’t matter? It doesn’t matter if you’re oblivious. It makes no difference if you’re scared half to death. Because you know damn well that he’s out there waiting for you Or he’s not.
The only way to find out is to step through that door. “
It seems to me that it came out funnier than suspenseful. This is not how it will appear in the book (yes, I’m still messing with it… polishing it, making a reproof.) Definitely a narrative voice to keep in mind for the future though.
And now it’s time to head on over to #Storychat — maybe I’ll see you around.
I HATE it when something I like is “new and improved.”
Mostly because it generally means they’ve messed with the bits I like.
So whats with me messing around with my blog?
The problem is that when you start your first blog, you have no idea what you’re doing. Who knows what all those cool theme features are about anyway?
I’ve toyed with the idea of altering the theme for some time, but the problem is always that it will mess up the formatting of all the posts that came before.
If you’ve got a pure text blog it’s not an issue, but I’ve always had a blogazine kind of thing going and where the images appear and how it’s laid out is part of what holds it all together. What can I say, I’m a writer with visual overtones. I certainly don’t want to wreak havoc with my earlier posts. I worked hard to get them not only sounding but looking right. Besides, they tend to get as much traffic as the new posts. So I’m limited in the themes I can actually switch to.
So here it is, I’m making the switch to The Journalist v1.9 Lucian E. Marin.
But really, in the grand scheme of things, that’s a small change.
The big change is that as of today this blog gets unnamed: it’s not “in the wind” anymore.
After more than a year of blogging I have come to the realization that I picked a lousy name for my blog.
“In the wind” is bland.
Boring. Indistinct. Meaningless.
Vague even. What is it really? A name that doesn’t really say anything.
Even worse, the silly thing is still no closer to being on the front page– or even the top ten pages, probably– of any search engine search engine you’d care to name. Too many other things have prior or more powerful claim to it. No worries.
Instead, I’ll just call the thing ‘Laurel L. Russwurm’
Kind of makes sense since the whole point is that this is supposed to be my personal blog.
And after a year it certainly is. (No I didn’t throw a party on the anniversary… I’ve been too busy tilting at windmills and writing my debut novel.) So what the heck, it’s my blog, it ought to have my name on it.
Other than that, everything’s just the same. Sorry for any inconvenience.
I first read this in a Facebook comment made by a friend of a friend (thanks Rusty), so I googled it to see who wrote it and did in fact find it online, but no place to contact anyone about provenance. One of the big problems with copyright is trying to find who if anyone has the rights. Failing that we can allow fear of reprisal to prevent us from sharing, and wonderful words, music and art may well wind up lost forever.)
So although I’m not sure who wrote it or where to credit, I’m going to be wild and crazy and assume public domain unless or until someone tells me otherwise, at which point I would take it down. For your reading pleasure I present:
A Short History of Medicine
2000 B.C. – Here, eat this root.
1000 A.D. – That root is heathen. Here, say this prayer.
1850 A.D. – That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.
1940 A.D. – That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.
1985 A.D. – That pill is ineffective. Here, take this antibiotic.
2000 A.D. – That antibiotic doesn’t work anymore. Here eat this root. . . .
reprinted from Cave of the Word Witch
When I began this blog a little over a year ago I had no idea about what was happening in the world of Intellectual Property Law. But I’ve been learning. Some of the amazing people and organizations I’ve come across who are spending a great deal of time working to fight against changes that will be detrimental to us all are linked in my sidebar.
One such organization is the Washington based public interest group Public Knowledge, who work hard to defend citizens’ rights in the emerging digital culture. Public Knowledge emailed subscribers asking for suggestions for nominations for their 2010 IP3 awards:
Let us know who you think should be honored for their good work in any or all of the “three IPs”: Intellectual Property, Information Policy, and Internet Protocol. The IP3 awards are our way of paying tribute to the thought leaders who inspired us and our supporters during the past year.”
Of course, being me, even though I am seriously new to all of this, I simply could not resist throwing in my two cents worth. Like this:
I’m willing to bet that Nina Paley‘s decision to fight for “copyleft” by releasing her wonderful animated feature film Sita Sings The Blues under a creative commons license has done more to raise the specter of true independent film making than anything else could have.
Add to that her vocal advocacy for expanded fair dealing and copyright reform, topped by her recent decision to turn down what would certainly have been a lucrative Netflix distribution because they refused to distribute Sita free of DRM.
I believe Nina Paley’s efforts are instrumental in demonstrating the value of legal file sharing which can help to preserve an open Internet.
As a writer returning to writing after a long childrearing hiatus, I’ve been doing a lot of learning about copyright, and Cory Doctorow has become one of my personal heroes. His ability to clearly explain and inform about the history of Intellectual Property, as well as his radical new ideas about IP reform have helped educate me on these issues. Cory Doctorow makes good use of his popular boingboing website to raise public awareness about IP3 issues, as well as his place in the UK’s The Guardian.
Even more brilliantly, Cory Doctorow’s book “Little Brother” brings these issues to life in a fictional world, which more than anything else helps to shine a light on the possible abuses we will face if we don’t pursue “the copyfight”.
More than anyone except my family, Cory Doctorow is responsible for the many long hours I have invested in both IP3 self education and advocacy through my blogs and any other appropriate forum I can find, either on or offline.
A year ago I was learning to make web pages and just starting my first blog. As I learned about the Internet and what you define as the IP3, Professor Michael Geist very quickly became a key source of accurate and informed online information.
Michael Geist’s various websites have both directed me to other excellent IP3 excellent resources, like Public Knowledge, as well as providing me with a strong enough grounding in the IP3 fields to help me to advocate for intelligent copyright reform and against dangerous public policies like ACTA in my own blogs.
Public Knowledge instituted the IP3 Awards to say “thank you” to those who:
“have advanced the public interest in one of the three areas of “IP” –Intellectual Property, Information Policy and Internet Protocol.”
So, two picks outta three ain’t bad for a novice.
And of course, I can still keep my fingers crossed that Cory Doctorow will be the super secret recipient of the “President’s Choice Award” that will be announced at the IP3 awards ceremony in Washington, on October 13th, 2010.
I haven’t heard of the other two recipients, Pamela Samuelson and Susan Crawford, but then I am, after all, very new to all of this. They certainly sound as though they’ve more than paid their dues in the legal and political IP trenches from the PK article.
Congratulations to all on being chosen, and a very special thank you to Public Knowledge for the important work they do.