Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sometimes writers find just the right image

Just one week until the US election. Can there really be any doubt about the outcome? Apparently, there are still some undecided voters out there.

David Sedaris, writing in the New Yorker, draws a vivid picture of undecided voters:

To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. ‘Can I interest you in the chicken?’ she asks. ‘Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?’

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.

I mean, really, what’s to be confused about?
Good stuff. You can read the whole article here.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

John Cleese shares his thoughts on Sarah Palin

Now that the Canadian election is over, we can get back to watching commentary about the upcoming presidential election in the US. And for something completely different (OK, it's not really that much different) listen to John's Cleese's reaction when he's asked about what he thinks about Sarah Palin.

Via seesmiccafe: 'The former Monty Python star shares his unsparing thoughts and views about GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.' Video Link.

(Via Boing Boing.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Snow in October

The patioI'm back from Regina, where I spent the Thanksgiving weekend. It was nice to be home for a few days, but the weather was not what I was expecting.

Sunday night, Regina got 17 cm of snow. Call it a Prairie October surprise!

I posted some pics from the snowfall on my Flickr account, if you're interested.

One of the things I noticed was that come morning, the streets were filled with people with shovels, winter boots, coats, toques and mitts, calmly cleaning up the mess. There were even a few guys with snowblowers out getting a little pre-season training in.

That's the way it is on the Prairies. They're used to snow and when it arrives, they're not put out by it. Quite the opposite of the chaos that erupts here in Victoria when those occasional blizzards show up (like this one.)

Even with the snow, there's no place quite as nice as our cottage in the fall. My son and I were out there the day before the snowfall, cleaning up the yard and closing up the cottage for another year. I'm glad it's still in our family, even if it is a few thousand kms from where we're living now.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Another overlooked story

As a follow-up to my post yesterday about the Top 10 censored stories of the year, comes this story about photojournalist James Nachtwey.

7B32F309-8321-434D-9C0C-8E1A6E7DE9DB.jpgHe was a recipient in March 2007 of the TED prize (see my earlier post) and his wish was for help in breaking a news story in a way that demonstrates the power of news photography in the digital age.

As it turns out (I'm late to this story, I guess) today, Oct. 3, is the day that bloggers and news sites around the world are going to help him get his wish. I'm happy to take part in spreading the word, even if I missed the whole build-up and suspense part of things.

Nachtwey's story is the growing threat of XDRTB - Extreme Drug Resistant Tuberculosis. Not that long ago, we thought TB was all-but-extinct. But it is making a terrifying comeback. Nachtwey used the $100,000 from the TED prize to build a website and document the ravages of this new pandemic. He deserves an audience and I'm hoping his wish comes true.

Here are few links to follow to find out what this is about:

Link to XDRTB.org, where you can see Natchtwey's video, learn more about the photographer and view the photographs he's made.

Link to Nachtwey's original acceptance speech of the TED Prize from March 2007.

Brain exercise

Those of us who have reached a "certain age" are paying attention to stories that claim that exercising our brains will pay off in our golden years. So we're working on crosswords (which I still can't do worth a darn), trying out Sudoko (works better for me) and staying married (at least according to this article from the Globe and Mail.)

But today, a post from Boing Boing caught my eye. Seems the Japanese have taken the idea of brain exercise to new, unheard-of heights:


Pink Tentacle has photos and a video of the "Reversible Destiny Lofts" in Japan, designed to physically and mentally challenge people in order to keep them healthy.

To NY-based architect-poets and “reversible destiny” philosophers Arakawa & Gins, comfort deserves only a limited role in the home. In their vision, a home that keeps its inhabitants young and healthy should provide perpetual challenges. A tentative relationship with your environment, they argue, is key to “reversing the downhill course of human life.”
Designed to stimulate the senses and force inhabitants to use balance, physical strength and imagination, the lofts feature uneven floors, oddly positioned power switches and outlets, walls and surfaces painted a dizzying array of colors, a tiny exit to the balcony, a transparent shower room, irregularly shaped curtainless windows, and more.

For rent: Reversible Destiny Lofts (w/ video)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Top 10 censored news stories

It's time for the Project Censored annual report on the stories that mainstream media is ignoring.

Since 1976, Sonoma State University has released an annual survey of the top 25 stories the mainstream media failed to report or reported poorly. Culled from worldwide alternative news sources, vetted by students and faculty, and ranked by judges, the stories were not necessarily overtly censored. But their controversial subjects, challenges to the status quo, or general under-the-radar subject matter might have kept them from the front pages. Project Censored recounts them, accompanied by media analysis, in a book of the same name published annually by Seven Stories Press.

"This year, war and civil liberties stood out," Peter Phillips, project director since 1996, said of the top stories. "They're closely related and part of the War on Terror that has been the dominant theme of Project Censored for seven years, since 9/11."

Whether it's preventing what one piece of legislation calls "homegrown terrorism" by federally funding the study of radicalism, using vague concerns about security to quietly expand NAFTA, or refusing to count the number of Iraqi civilians killed in the war, the threat of terrorism is being used to silence people and expand power.
Here's the Top 10 stories:


And here's the link to the complete story.