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
Growing up I didn’t know any of my family history. One of the cool things that I’ve learned is that my paternal ancestor who emigrated to Canada from Alsace was named “Valentine.”
Woo Hoo! I’m a NaNoWriMo winner.
I’m pretty pleased to have made the magic 50,000 word wordcount within the thirty days of November. That qualifies me as a winner, which is nice. Particularly since I know from last year how awesome it is to receive the CreateSpace proof, which is my personal favorite of the “winner’s goodies.”
… not quite there…
It’s a bittersweet victory because although I achieved the official NaNoWriMo goal, I did not make my own, which was to have a first draft done.
New Goal: First Draft complete no later than new years.
It’s probably only a week at tops to get the draft done. Possibly an intense day or two.
Except I have to get Inconstant Moon published. Back to that priority starting tomorrow. Er, today. I’d best be getting some sleep.
Unfortunately it was too exciting a month and I ended up blogging way more than I should have.
I have this dread feeling that I may actually have blogged more than usual instead of the little to none blogging I had intended for the month.
It’s been great for the blogs, as both this, my personal blog (70 page views for Remembrance Day) and my Oh! Canada blog (158 page views yesterday) had record breaking days. But for the novel, not so much.
Lots of other procrastination too. I thought I’d “quick” put together a cover today when I validated.
Well I did, and it’s a great cover but like many other digressions it took time away.
The getting sick part was at least a legitimate excuse.
Oh well. Better luck next year.
2,799,449,947 is the collective Wordcount
of everyone who participated in NaNoWriMo 2010
My region, Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge-Guelph
wrote 6,874,712 words during NaNoWriMo.
I’m still not entirely healthy which meant I missed both the overnight and the Last Write-In. Here’s hoping to be healthy enough to make the TGIO party.
Congratulations to everyone who gave it their best shot, whether you’re an official NaNo winner or not. If you’ve honestly done your best, you’re truly a winner in my book. Pat yourself on the back and bellow a heartfelt
“The Girl in the Blue Flame Cafe” cover designed by me, Laurel L. Russwurm
Our family tree research goes back to Valentin and Catherine Russwurm and slams into a wall. Because when these paternal ancestors emigrated to Canada, around 1840, they were completely cut off from the world they left behind. At the time, although crossing an ocean was do-able, it was a biggie. I imagine there was correspondence, for a time, but none survives as far as we know. Letters took a very long time back then. But those were the choices people had. Back then, if you decided move far away from your family, for work, or a better life for your own children, you very likely will never see them again.
Contrast that with today. The methods of transportation have become better and faster and cheaper. Travel is easy. Communication can be instantaneous.
So making the decision to go to school or take a job thousands of miles away or on the far side of an ocean have been made with the understanding that you will be able to go home, you don’t have to say good bye to your family forever.
The problem is, the TSA scanning issue clearly shows just how drastically “they” have changed the rules.
People who do not comply with invasive searches can be faced with being cut off from their families forever as a direct result. Legally.
Because the government assumes everyone is a terrorist.
I’ve just written about Human Rights and the TSA in my Oh! Canada blog. Although I should be writing my NaNoWriMo novel, I’ve been following the issue on boingboing, and of course, being me, making comments. (Who’d have thought that a website devoted to neat stuff and adult toys would end up being one of the 21st Centuries most vocal advocates for democracy?)
There has been a call for people who are flying to be with family for Thanksgiving tomorrow to opt out of the BS Scanner process in protest. We’ll have to see what happens but there are a couple of comments I read on boingboing that bear repeating, so I wanted to include them here. And because boingboing (unlike, say, CBC) publishes under a Creative Commons License I can happily and legally reprint the words of others.
Lots of people have ideas about disruptions, as part of the opt out, but it seems to me that this is
the best advice on Opt-Out
It is clear that the TSA are changing the rules at the last minute so that the traveling public are uncertain (FUD factor). Additionally, the ‘blame’ for delays will be passed on to anyone who, for whatever reason, refuses the porn scanner and, should they also object to having their personal areas groped, to be labeled as potential terrorists. The onus being placed on you complying and not spoiling other people’s travel plans by them having to close a security area should you attempt to go through again.
There is a simple solution.
1. Refuse the x-ray as there is uncertainty regarding their safety – a simple check on the interwebs will show this differing opinion.
2. In a normal voice, but sufficient for those in proximity to you can hear, emphasis should be placed on point 1 above.
3. Opt for a pat down IN PUBLIC. Do NOT go to a private area.
4. Ask questions. This is important. If you are about to be touched by a stranger it is important that you understand the WHY and the HOW of what they are proposing.
5. Ask for the person about to pat you down to put on a new pair of gloves within your sight.
6. Ask for a copy of the rules to ensure that you are both complying properly and also that the rules are being properly enforced. How can you comply if you do not know what the rules are and are?
Above all, be polite and do not be embarrassed or made to feel at fault for ensuring the TSA are able to do their job properly and protect the traveling public. Similarly, if you are clearly complying and being nice there is no reason for the bottom inspectors to detain you. You know it make sense…”
They might not like it, but it’s not against TSA policy as long as you’re not shooting their video monitors or holding up the line. From their site:
“TSA does not prohibit the public, passengers or press from photographing, videotaping or filming at security checkpoints, as long as the screening process is not interfered with or slowed down. We do ask you to not film or take pictures of the monitors. While the TSA does not prohibit photographs at screening locations, local laws, state statutes, or local ordinances might.”
It might be handy to have this printed out in case an agent tries to demand otherwise.”
flatfive in reply to Anonymous
#232: Ask for a law enforcement officer to witness the search. They abide by different rules than the TSA (the Constitution, for example), and they often don’t much care for their assignment to hang out with the government Rent-a-Cops. And by all means, if something happens you don’t like, tell the cop you want to press charges, then and there.”
Also, probably a good idea to have a lawyer on speed dial, with whom you’ve talked to about this prior to the day of travel.
flatfive comment on “Don’t TSA me, bro: Boing Boing open thread, and new rules for those who refuse patdown”
how far is too far
I agree with most of what lectroid and a few other commenters have said concerning better ways to react to the TSA officers and the policies they are being told to carry out.
“I’m so turned on” and fake boner jokes may get attention, but they are also more likely to get you, and your valid concerns, written off.
It is always a good idea to speak with passion, listen with respect, and assertively but humanely broadcast your message. I really do appreciate the stunts some people have pulled to bring more attention to the issues (naked protests, etc.), but in the long run treating everyone–your fellow passengers, your frisker, your congressman, and your mom–with respect and consideration will help ensure that your message won’t be thrown out with all the other jerks and bad jokes. Respect and righteous anger really can coexist. I want the TSA officers and my political representatives understand and hopefully agree with me. They are less likely to do that when I’m mocking them. You don’t have to degrade or mock someone to vocally disapprove of or try to arrest their actions.
I’m having a hard time imaging the effectiveness or longevity of Gandhi’s or Thoreau’s messages of civil disobedience had they been carrying exaggerated sex toy, feigning orgasms, or dehumanizing their assailants. Even when they themselves were being dehumanized. Nonetheless, you are free to do any of these!
I want my foes to know I see them as human beings, which is exactly why I am so disappointed in their actions. Be angry, be articulate; just don’t be a huge asshole.”
“The correct definition is this: terrorism is a tactic. It is force applied with the primary goal of causing fear among a population in order to affect political change.”
This seems to accurately describe what the TSA is doing (albeit by order of a third party). American citizens are being terrorized by their own government.”
I may be old fashioned, but I think human rights and freedoms are very important.
A friend of mine who would like to remain nameless says,
There’s a concept called “seasoning” used to refer to how a pimp breaks the will and reduces the ego of a woman in the process of coercing her into prostitution. It could be considered brainwashing, or thought reform, or, in other words, the steady creation of a holographic crisis in her brain, developed with the intent that she reach a breaking point. Increasingly terrible things happen to the woman at the hands of the perpetrator of the violence. Eventually, the woman comes to think of the abusive relationship as “normal” (with normal being whatever doesn’t require identifying adjectives.)
Seasoning is also used to describe the process someone goes through in abusing a child. He practices hurting her. He gets better at it. Eventually, hurting her is normalized for him, and possibly for her.
A third application of this notion happened in pre-WWII Germany. In anticipation of violence in the streets – to which it was in the interests of the government that people were inured – pornography became more and more violent. Individual acts of violence became normal: and, indeed, people became inured. Because of a combination of this inurement and their inculcated fear, most people kept walking when someone was being beaten in the street.
Now, people stand in long lines at airports and watch while other people are publicly humiliated by being sexually fondled. They stand, passively,listening and watching while children scream in protest with their parents standing by helplessly or even holding them while they’re molested.
To me, this looks like another kind of seasoning; the beginning of the process of normalizing acts of brutality carried out by government authorities, unencumbered by interfering members of the public.
Just a little theory. I don’t think there’s a conspiracy. There doesn’t have to be.”
On the lighter side (!) I will end with a link to:
Robomonkey’s awesome music video:
Have a safe Thanksgiving.
EFF: Common Sense and Security: Body Scanners, Accountability, and $2.4 Billion Worth of Security Theater
Acknowledgment: Thanks to Xeni Jardin and boingboing for using
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs-NonCommercial 1.0 Generic License