Image of the Environmental Cost of War

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BEIRUT: At least 10,000 tons of heavy fuel oil have been spilled into the Lebanese sea, causing an environmental catastrophe with severe effects on health, biodiversity and tourism, environmentalists and the Environment Ministry said Wednesday. Two weeks ago, Israeli bombs targeted the Jiyye power station, located on the coast 30 kilometers south of Beirut. Part of the oil in storage tanks has been burning ever since and the other part is leaking into the Mediterranean.

I always find it amazing the power of an image to relay a message – especially in times of ‘war’ (which seems to be never ending – wars are an economy onto themselves). While we can sometimes manage to see imagery of the human suffering that always accompanies the barbarism of modern conflict, photos such as these help in a small way to illuminate the other effects that only those living there experience.
(The photo is from BBC News; the excerpt is from the Lebanese paper, the Daily Star.)


This Global Phenomenom Called ‘Internet’


A CBC report from 1993 on a global phenomenon called ‘Internet’. Do you remember what it was like to be online back in 1993? I remember being a moderator of a hugely popular bbs hosted on dana.edu servers. Community spaces were much different then, surprisingly more restrained, and likely partially because of the ‘magic’ of the experience the relationships were far closer than anything I have experienced since.
YouTube is my new television.
Heres the link to the original CBC archive page.


The Ringtone only Teens Can Hear

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When I originally mentioned the Teen Buzz ringtone, I did so as I thought it was a creative way of circumventing adult authority by using the very tool used against them. A company called Compound Security Systems had developed what they call a “Mosquito ultrasonic teenage deterrent”, designed to drive kids away from malls, stores and other places where teens congregate and annoy paying customers. Well this idea has become very viral, the general news media has picked up on it, people are sharing the file via p2p, and even Compound Security Systems is selling thee own version. In a sign of my advancing age I downloaded a copy and couldn’t hear a thing.
Here is a copy of the Teen Buzz ringtone in mp3 format.


Teens Using Ringtone only Teens Can Hear

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“They can receive calls and texts during lessons without teachers having the faintest idea what is going on”
Creative thinking! “Teen geeks have retro-fitted a sound called the Mosquito alarm — normally only heard by people under the age of 20 and developed as an irritant to drive teens away from hangout spots at malls — and made it a ringtone. Now all the kids in class can hear cell phones, which have been banned in most classrooms, but the teachers can’t. The ring tone is called Teen Buzz, and it’s spreading like wildfire via SMS and Bluetooth.” Via Rawfeed.


The Effects Of Mobile Telephones On Social And Individual Life

“Whatever it is called, and wherever it is used, this simple, accessible technology alters the way in which individuals conduct their everyday lives. It has extensive implications for the cultures and societies in which it is used; it changes the nature of communication, and affects identities and relationships. It affects the development of social structures and economic activities, and has considerable bearing on its users’ perceptions of themselves and their world.
This report is informed by the interests, themes, and methodologies of several areas of study, including psychology, social psychology, sociology, anthropology, cultural studies and philosophy. While such interdisciplinary approaches are common to many studies of the cultural effects of technological change, few of the models and hypotheses developed in relation to other new communications technologies can be applied to the mobile without the risk of obscuring what is truly novel in the wireless world. The mobile needs a fresh start and an open mind. ”
Read the Motorola study authored by Dr Sadie Plant (.pdf file).


Pew Internet & American Life Project – Artists, Musicians and the Internet

“The first large-scale surveys of the internet’s impact on artists and musicians reveal that they are embracing the Web as a tool to improve how they make, market, and sell their creative works. They eagerly welcome new opportunities that are provided by digital technology and the internet.
At the same time, they believe that unauthorized online file sharing is wrong and that current copyright laws are appropriate, though there are some major divisions among them about what constitutes appropriate copying and sharing of digital files. Their overall judgment is that unauthorized online file-sharing does not pose a major threat to creative industries: Two-thirds of artists say peer-to-peer file sharing poses a minor threat or no threat at all to them.
Across the board, among those who are both successful and struggling, the artists and musicians we surveyed are more likely to say that the internet has made it possible for them to make more money from their art than they are to say it has made it harder to protect their work from piracy or unlawful use.”
Read the Research Report


Culture of fear and blindness

I’ll be saying a little prayer tonight that Americans have abandoned their political zealotry, done some thinking, and decided that the last four years were a mockery of their country.
I wanted to record my thoughts about this event but somehow now words escape me. The US isn’t my country and yet no country or person can escape the effects of this election. How a man such as this could have such popular support and can get away with such obvious lies is a mystery. One must just open their eyes and see. Perhaps that is one of the gifts of the power base that surrounds him. The ability to frame all thinking around the context of their choosing. They must be the most masterful of propagandists.
Bush once said something to the effect that he will be remembered in history, let’s hope he is remembered as a hiccup, a mistake, and not a representative of what America believes. I had a feeling from the beginning that he would be a two term president, I hope that I was wrong, for the sake of America and the world.


Cell Phone as Rosery

“Londoners create invisible mobile phone booths, while Parisians talk in the middle of the pavement and people from Madrid share their phone with friends.

These are some of the findings from a Surrey university study into mobile phone use in three European cities.

Despite differences of approach, all of them had one thing in common, they all loved their mobile phones.

Like a rosary, the mobile has this function of keeping the mind busy. People are cuddling their phones because it promotes well-being from touching a familiar object.”

Read City Dwellers ‘Cuddle’ Mobiles.


The Semantic Web is Closer Than You Think

“While there is a lot of talk these days about the Semantic Web being the crack-addled pipe dream of a few academic naifs, in reality it’s a lot closer to realization than you might be thinking. Now I want to be clear about this point: I’m not suggesting that we stand on the brink of a fully achieved, widespread Semantic Web. I am suggesting that some of the major pieces of the puzzle are now or will soon be in place. OWL, along with RDF, upon which it builds, are two such very major pieces of the Semantic Web puzzle.”
Link: The Semantic Web is Closer Than You Think