Laurel L. Russwurm's Free Culture Blog

a writer, the copyfight and internet freedom

Archive for the ‘Special Event’ Category

Happy Victoria Day

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Victoria's Family

As you celebrate Canada’s Victoria Day weekend (which we go to great pains to prevent from celebrating on the actual weekend of the 24th of May ~ her birthday) be thankful you don’t have 9 kids. (This painting only shows the first five of the nine children Victoria and Albert had.) And be careful with those fireworks!

Happy Victoria Day!

Franz_Xaver_Winterhalter’s painting “The Family of Queen Victoria” is well into the Public Domain.

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

May 17, 2015 at 7:59 pm

Happy Public Domain Day!

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Happy New Year from the Public Domain

In the beginning, everything was in the Public Domain. But that all changed when the English Queen Anne put an end to public ownership of our shared culture by passing the first Copyright Law in 1710. The idea was that this would encourage creators to create. Initially this Intellectual Property monopoly applied exclusively to the printed word. The term was limited to a few years to ensure creative works would return to the Public Domain.

As time went by, however, the scope of copyright has expanded to include most of the creative realms, and what were once limited terms (ostensibly intended to encourage creators to create) now extends decades past the death of the author. (So far no one has explained how this can possibly encourage dead creators to create new art.)

Because copyright terms have been extended so long, and sometimes even retroactively, works going into the Public Domain have flowed to a trickle, and in some cases to a halt. Those works that are emancipated from copyright bondage are scheduled to enter the Public Domain on January 1st every year, so on this day we celebrate the expiry of the monopoly over the works that return to the Public Domain.

Happy Public Domain Day!

Happy Public Domain Day!

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

January 1, 2015 at 2:03 am

Wishing You a Very Merry Saturnalia

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My lovely Rudolph card would not have been possible without Per Harald Olsen’s gorgeous Svalbardrein pho which he has released on Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

“Happy Holidays” by Laurel L. Russwurm is likewise released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

December 25, 2014 at 9:00 am

Arresting Images at The Waterloo Museum

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Arresting Images poster

As an author of crime fiction, I’ve been trying to get to the City of Waterloo Museum to see the to see their true crime exhibit “Arresting Images: Mug shots from The OPP Museum.”

The tiny museum gallery is housed in Conestoga Mall, with an entrance from the food court, as well as exterior entrance.

Admission is free, and the exhibits I’ve attended have been well worth it.

This exhibition includes 100 framed reproductions of mug shots selected from the from the OPP collection of spanning the late 19th and early 20th century people arrested, as well as selected blowups of what are essentially portrait photographs taken by the same professional portrait photographers who photographed our law abiding ancestors.

There is a post card circulated to identify a suspect,and mug shots not only from Ontario, but including suspects from cities in nearby New York.

The origins of the mug shot

The mug shot as we know it, had it’s beginnings in the early days of photography. In 1841, just two years after the invention of the daguerreotype, the Paris Police began to include daguerreotype portraits in their criminal files. In England, the Bristol gaol staff adopted the practice of photographing prisoners in 1848. American and Canadian police and detective agencies were quick to follow suit. The mug shot was born

23 year old Lillie Williams arrested on "Suspicion"

In order to display both the front (photograph) and back (arresting information) of the images, faithful reproductions of both sides of 100 mug shot cards have framed for the exhibit.

19th century handcuffs

The exhibit also includes physical memorabilia, so visitors can see early handcuff styles, a section devoted to Waterloo policing, as well as an interactive area where children of all ages can experiment with disguises, find out how big a jail cell was, or take your own mug shot.

Early 20th century Waterloo Police Chief's hat

My favorite part was the informative display covering early photographic methods. I was surprised to see just how small actual daguerreotypes were.

camera display

Since visiting the exhibit, I have a couple of questions, so I might just pop in again before the exhibit closes, on Friday (May 9, 2014).


I’ve posted a few more photos from the show on my Tumblog, GrandSocial, Twitter and techDITZ.

Tonight is Christmas Eve…

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Merry Christmas wreathI wish you a safe and happy holiday season, regardless of what you celebrate.

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

December 24, 2013 at 9:40 pm

Posted in copyright, Special Event

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

October 14, 2013 at 1:30 am

Posted in Life, Special Event

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The End Is Nigh?

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dramatic mushroom cloud

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?

Moon ~ cc by laurelrusswurm

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…
Calendar End (cc by laurelrusswurm)

Image Credits

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

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

December 21, 2012 at 2:41 am


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