-photo courtesy of PLOD.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
murmuration: a collection of starlings.
After you read this Wired Science article and watch this video as posted on Vimeo, doesn't it make you wonder if we as a specie, when viewed from above, are doing our own naturally-choreographed dance as we live our lives, except that in our case, it is not a happy ending?
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
iPhone Diaries #433 and Book Review: "Small Acts of Resistance", by Steve Crawshaw and John Jackson, and on a related matter, the relevance of the Occupy Movement
One would have to be on a deserted island not to know about the Occupy Movement in various cities around the world. The chattering class has written about it and invariably, it's been about how pointless the exercise has been and will be, and how it has inconvenienced most people. Time, and history, will surely tell that this movement is at a seminal crossroads whereby Western society realizes that the 1% has subverted democracy to the detriment of the other 99%. The Occupy Movement is an act of resistance.
Now on the book, "Small Acts of Resistance".
Most people in North America have never heard of baby strollers and the role this communal act played in bringing down the communist regime in Poland. This happened in Swidnik, in eastern Poland. A very innocuous, almost silly exercise became one of many acts of civil disobedience that brought the communist Polish government, and shortly thereafter, loosening the Soviet Union's iron grip on eastern Europe.
There was the designer for the lowly Burmese one-kyat note who softened the physical features of the widely respected Burmese General Aung San so that it resembled his dissident daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi. This quietly subversive act was one of the rallying points for her party's overwhelming victory in the 1990 general elections (ignored by the ruling junta, at their peril).
We learn of Rosa Parks (December 1, 1955) who refused to move to the back of the bus. But do we know Claudette Colvin (March 2, 1955) who was arrested and thrown out of a bus under identical circumstances?
Some of us have heard of the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. But have you heard of Carl Lutz? He saved tens of thousands of Jews in Budapest.
India's Mahatma Gandhi is rightfully revered for espousing civil disobedience. But outside of the Indian subcontinent, who among us has heard of the Pathan (Pashtun) leader Abdul Ghaffar Khan, who is arguably just as remarkable as Gandhi.
Numerous individuals are mentioned in this book. There is Edmund Dene Morel, a junior clerk in a shipping company who exposed the horrors perpetrated by King Leopold of Belgium in the Belgian Congo.
There is Peter Benenson, saddened by the incarceration of two Portuguese students simply by raiding their glasses to liberty, who started Amnesty International.
There was the aptly named Lovings, Mildred and Richard, who brought about the end of miscegenation in the United States! When Barack Obama was born in 1961, the "miscegenation" of his white Kansan mother and black Kenyan father "was illegal in more than half of America's states".
In 1994, Boris Dittrich, a 39-year-old Dutch judge', led efforts for the first state-sanctioned gay marriage; similar laws have followed around the world.
More famously, Muhammad Ali refused to go to Vietnam saying, "Ain't no Viet Cong ever called they ask me to put on a uniform nigger". He said, "Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam, while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?"
Marian Anderson singing at the Lincoln Memorial instead of Washington's Constitution Hall (where she couldn't perform because she was black).
The U.S. general Alberto Mora who argued publicly, against the acceptance of, and the use of, torture under the Bush Administration.
Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno set up a huge hoax to entrap Dow Chemical (Union Carbide) into accepting responsibility, and therefore shining a spotlight on the Bhopal Chemical spill in India.
Less stirring but just as significant are the Iranian taxi drivers refusing to pick up turbaned men (mullahs).
There's the Iranian women sneaking into soccer stadiums in defiance of the mullahs.
The Burmese sticking pictures of the hated general Than Shwe on stray dogs to show their defiance of a curfew; dogs, afterall, are not subject to the curfew.
Just as remarkable and significant are the groups.
The workers at the Sarajevo paper, Oslobodjenje, showing defiance against the Serbs and the inattention of the rest of the world; the Afghan television show, Afghan Star, for art and women's rights; the daily protests on Plaza Mayor that led to the ouster of the Peruvian president, Albertio Fujimori (and his subsequent conviction); Belgrade's anti-Milosevic Radio B92.
There are many more mentioned in this book! They did what they did because they felt it was the right thing to do. they didn't wait to be told
One has to read this book to just get a glimpse of the efficacy of civil disobedience and that any act of resistance, no matter how small, can be very effective, in the short term and in the long run. This is a very inspiring book!!
The Occupy Movement will soon take it's place in a future book of social revolutions!
"The history of nonviolent action is not a succession of desperate idealists, occasional martyrs and a few charismatic emancipators. The real story is about common citizens who are drawn into great causes, which are built from the ground up". - Peter Ackerman and Jack Du Vall, A Force More Powerful.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
What makes a bar and pub a sports bar? I guess it would be if they showed sports on TV. But is it just a matter of installing a big screen hunker on every available wall space?
Any "sports" bar who brands itself a sports bar should be cognizant of the flavour of the moment, and not just the same same-old-same-old.
Take for example, Guelph's Arena Bar and Grill and The Real Deal. On the biggest (boxing) fight night of the year, when the Pacquiao-Marquez III fight arguably rivals the historic Ali-Frazier III (Thrilla in Manila) fight, both bars are featuring the same old inconsequential Leafs (historic perennial losers). The woman who answers the phone seems not to know who Manny Pacquiao is, only that she's been answering the phone for the umpteenth time, having to say, "sorry, we don't get that channel". To the managers of these bars, you'd think a handful of pints would pay for the pay-per-view fee on HBO!!
Sports bars should be more than just hanging mass-produced sports memorabilia on the walls; it should be about being cognizant of what the market is for the viewing public. I personally don't frequent sports bars but this would have introduced me to the Arena Bar and Grill and I most likely would have gone back if they showed European soccer on a regular basis (I don't have cable).
To be fair, none of the other bars I phoned were showing the boxing match; but then again, they didn't call themselves "sports bars".
Personally, it's okay because I am able to go to a friend's house to watch the fight.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Barry Smit, Geography Professor (UofG) and Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Change, joined Host Doug Larson at the Manhattan Club for the third part of Mash Mondays, an evening of songs, stories, discussion, and insight on the first Monday of every month (til April).
I went in on the suggestion of my Geography student-son. Lively crowd, good host, and my first pint of Innis and Gunn beer tasted really good. I volunteered to do the videotaping for the proprietor, Thomas Aldridge; hopefully the audio will be acceptable!My first time at Manhattans won't be the last.
Monday, November 7, 2011
This poem is copied/lifted from my favourite blog: I Wrote This For You
Now the TV's on at 3am and you're sleeping on the couch, because you
Now the plate is where you left it, no one else is going to move it for
Now the politics of blankets are gone.
Now the people on the radio sound so far away.
Now you've got no plans when you wake up, just keep on keeping on.
Now the morning fades to light, to twilight, to night.
Now you rinse and repeat.
Now you remove the sleeve and remove the film.
Now you remove the sleeve and pierce the film several times.
Now dinner takes exactly 2:30 minutes.
Now the earth hurtles through the universe around a giant ball of
Now none of your acquaintances know they're really your only friends.
Now none of your friends know they're just acquaintances.
Now you've got to get used to being alone, like when you're born, like
when you die.
Now you're free.
Now you can do whatever you want.
You just have to do it alone.
In today's Globe and Mail, the headline reads: Vancouver set for showdown with occupiers after woman's death."The weekend death of a young woman at the Occupy Vancouver tent protest has galvanized determination by city officials to end the 23-day downtown encampment as quickly as possible."
"Given that we have had a very tragic death, which I think really shook people up, we need to move in an expedited way," city manager Penny Ballem told reporters Sunday, after a day of meetings with other civic managers, including police and fire representatives."
Wouldn't it be amazing, even miraculous, if Vancouver city officials would be galvanized by even just one death on the Downtown East Side?
The cynical side in me thinks the city officials were just waiting for one death at the Occupy Vancouver site as an excuse to clear the premises. I bet you the word "bingo" flashed in more than one city official's head as soon as the news hit.
Galvanized: to stimulate or excite as if by an electric shock (it's how steel is coated in zinc for rust-proofing). Hey, wasn't Robert Dziekanski galvanized (tasered to death) on Oct 14, 2007? In Vancouver?
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Due to the advent of DSLRs that are just as capable of superior Video as they are of amazing Stills, it is now possible for one person to do both Stills photography and Videography. It's not easy as the two disciplines require different modes of thinking, different parts of the brain. More (expensive) equipment is required, as well as a thorough knowledge of what a wedding day involves.
Wedding Stills photography is a demanding profession, as evidenced by the fact that although the digital revolution has enabled more photographers to capture technically decent images, only a few are able to combine photo technique with the ability to communicate and to capture the essence of a wedding day. The addition of video capture demands even more from the fusion photographer.
I have to mention a caveat here. The fusion photographer is not meant to replace a regular videographer. It is not possible, and anybody who claims they can do so is pulling a scam.
Starting in 2012, I will be offering fusion photography, not just for weddings but also for certain events (suitability to be determined on consultation).
Here's a line from my wedding site (www.rara-avis.smugmug.com):
Here's a line from my wedding site (www.rara-avis.smugmug.com):
"AND, and as an added service that is not reflected in the wedding fee, selected portions of the day will be shot on video. This is not meant to replace a regular videographer but it has always struck me as odd that FIRST DANCES, wild RECEPTION DANCING, certain once-in-a-lifetime SPEECHES, and OTHERS, are not shot in video more often. I understand that the old paradigm was to hire a photographer, AND a videographer. The latest technology (and a lot of learning on my part) has made possible FUSION PHOTOGRAPHY (a hybrid of Stills and Video).
And here I am! For the price of a value-for-your-dollar photographer, you have at your disposal a (primarily) Stills photographer who can do video, photojournalistic style.
Please note that the video coverage will never replace a regular videographer. The video coverage will be different for different weddings due to time and venue factors."
If interested, shoot me an email!