Archive for the ‘Special Event’ Category
I grew up under the shadow of potential thermonuclear war that could have wiped out all humanity and turned planet earth into a radioactive wasteland. When the Berlin Wall came down it seemed as though maybe humanity had become clever enough not to do anything so foolish.
[Of course now that we're left with only a single superpower, instead of getting "On The Beach" recent events appear to be propelling us toward Nineteen Eighty-Four instead, but that's another story.]
I’m not quite sure why, but we keep having periodic “end of the world” scares.
It isn’t as though humanity doesn’t have scientific mojo these days; I can attest to the fact that weather forecast accuracy has improved during my lifetime. Not only that, I can watch an approaching wave of precipitation on the Environment Canada radar web page. How cool is that?
We know more than ever before in history.
We’ve gone further than ever before ~ to the moon! ~ and we’ve even sent space probes further still!
Improvements in our nutrition and strides in medical research mean we’re living longer than ever before.
So what’s with our apocalyptic fascination?
NASA is skeptical — they don’t think the world will come to an abrupt end today.
Impressive ruins still stand in the world the Maya once ruled, Mayan descendents are scattered here and there, and undoubtedly there are still some Mayan archeological treasures waiting to be found. The Mayan calendar was certainly an achievement, particularly when you consider it outlasted Mayan civilization.
Meanwhile, many people choose not to believe the mounting scientific evidence that indicates unchecked climate change could bring about the end of life as we know it on earth.
Why is it easier to believe long dead Mayans than modern day scientists?
Every year my wall calendar comes to an end, but it doesn’t mean the sky is falling…
The moon and both calendars are released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license by laurelrusswurm.
“…an atmospheric nuclear test carried out by the U.S. on 1 March 1954 at Bikini Atoll, Marshal Islands. It was the third largest test ever detonated by the United States the first deployed thermonuclear device.”
— Castle Romeo: Mushroom Cloud photo published to the Public Domain by the US Government.
If you want to read some great apocalyptic fiction, why not try Eric Swett’s new novel, “Apocalypse Rising“
As a blogger, I make use of images in all of my blogs. But when i can’t take my own, I look for photos online. But © copyright, all rights reserved means I can’t use an image. And Canadian copyright law makes every photograph copyright © all rights reserved as the default.
Both Google and Flickr offer an Advanced Image Search option. When looking for images to use in my blog, I choose to search “labelled for reuse.” I can tell you right now that Google returned zero labeled for reuse image results for the incumbent in my riding.
[I would have screen captured the Google page to show you here, except that I can't, because the page is "protected by copyright"copyright. Isn't copyright fun?]
Canadians can’t even use images included on Government of Canada web pages paid for with our tax dollars because they are protected by Crown Copyright. And if you haven’t heard, CBC does the same thing. They don’t allow citizens to reproduce anything from their website, even when it is of a non-profit public service nature.
That makes it copyright infringement to reproduce the photo without permission. As a blogger, I don’t have time to ask, so it is easier for me not to not use photos unless they are licensed for re-use, rather than risk legal ramifications (EFF calls that the chilling effect). So people who want to include your photo – and provide you with needed publicity – won’t.
The flip side is that when you are in public life, total strangers can legally take your photograph and publish it without your permission. So what is likely to happen is that unflattering images will appear on flickr or WikiMedia Commons that are licensed for reuse. Unflattering images make attack ads possible.
Privately granted permission can easily be withdrawn, disavowed or legally challenged. Most bloggers don’t have legal departments, nor pockets deep enough to risk spending the rest of our lives in court arguing this.
Wikipedia is not an advertising medium, which means that famous people or political parties can’t make their own (presumably biased) pages.
One photographer who takes photographs of politicians to include in Wikipedia explained how he was forced to include an incredibly unflattering photograph of a highly placed Canadian politician in Wikipedia page. He had never been able to get a good picture of the man, and an unflattering photograph is better than none.
Which is an excellent reason for famous people or political parties to license images they can live with for reuse. You can post licensed images anywhere online, on your website, blog, even as an Identi.ca avatar, or on a free Flickr page.
If you don’t, someone else will.
There are other ways of licensing to get around the over-stringent copyright law we have today, but the one I know about is Creative Commons on licenses. I’ve blogged a bit about it in CC is for Creator’s choice.
The photographer owns the © copyright, and can license a good image through on the Creative Commons license choosing page.
For the widest possible dissemination of any information, the best license is CC0.
Between trying to get my debut novel, “Inconstant Moon,” ready to launch, computer technical difficulties, and the current federal election (I’ll be posting an #elxn41 piece to Oh! Canada later today) it would have been easy to forget all about Earth Day.
The weather is fairly miserable this year, but it is still an important day. One of the common themes in science fiction read in my youth was the caution that if we mess up the planet irreparably, without space travel humanity will be, ahem, screwed. Personally, although I am in favor of space travel, it is still important not to destroy this planet. Even if I could move to Mars or the Pleiades with Desdemona, I’d still want the option of coming home to visit.
Earth is my home.
As it is home to other forms of life.
One day a few years back I found a baby chipmunk stumbling around, wandering into the street. A closer look showed that his eyes weren’t open yet. A few days before I’d seen a dead chipmunk on the side of the road, so it was a very good guess that this little guy was an orphan.
So I brought him home.
Amazingly we managed to raise him. I had been advised to start him on goat’s milk with acidophilus to help digest it, and that did the trick. As he got older, I fed him husked sunflower seeds and grass &tc. but his favorite was tender dandelion greens, which fortunately were not covered in pesticide in my yard. So Chippy Baby grew up.
Chipmunks live underground, but ours was raised in a hamster cage with a climbing tube. He could sit at the top of his cage and look around, secure from being picked up by human hands.
When he told us it was time to go, we released him.
Happily he survived, and can be seen checking on us from on high.
Happy Earth Day.
All other photographs are by laurelrusswurm released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) License