Friday, April 30, 2010

This is Why You're Fat

A lot of people gasped when KFC announced their new chicken burger treat the Double Down sandwich. It was considered a monstrosity in that it contains two pieces of bacon, two pieces of cheese, special sauce between two pieces of chicken. At 540 calories, this is something that a) probably tastes delicious and b) will hurt going through the GI system. You will spend a lot of time probably regretting eating one, although it sounds so good.

The sad news, it won't be available in Canada.

One article states that this sandwich was inspired by the Internet. In particular the source of inspiration is the site "This is Why You're Fat". It is subtitled 'where dreams become heart attacks'. This is an amazing site, if you like your food in huge amounts and covered with everything that is bad for you, then this is for you.

As you can see, the people behind the site have also produced a book, of which I just got a copy. Through the wonders of Amazon, I was able to purchase the book for about $1+ shipping and handling. It is an amazing book. First of all, the book features a photograph of a Luther Burger ( page 116). The book contains photographs, stories and recipes for some of the food portrayed. It is truly an amazing book, one in which you can gain weight just by opening the cover.

The site features photographs of food. Food in all its glories. It is based upon the notion that people should not live on celery sticks alone. This is what you eat when you've had enough of Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig's. As you leave, this book is under your arm and you chowing down on one of the concoctions.

It proves that the basic food groups are: cheese, deep fat and bacon. There are amazing recipes featuring either one or all three of these food groups. It's a book which features a photograph of the Twinkie Weiner Sandwich, a sandwich inspired by the Weird Al movie "UHF". Yes someone took that information and decided to copy it, again the reason is very simple, because you can.

It is also truly amazing what can be deep fried. It is deep fried because it can be done and someone is willing to do it.

So why go to the site, why read the book. One answer, it is fun. Realize this should not be your cookbook, but that it's something to read, shake your head and as the book also suggests, start eating those rice cakes.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Green Spirituality

And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

As part of my continuing study of environmentalism, sort of my blogging celebration of Earth Day and Earth Week, I figure I have got to include something about green spirituality.
I realize this is a touchy subject because whenever a person mixes spirituality and the environment you end up with some sort of Gaia Religion or accusation of being a pantheist. Right now one of the big problems is over the movie Avatar. It seems the Vatican has issues with the positive view of the interconnection of life, and that's a quote from the Globe and Mail.

Others would say the issue is not some sort of renewal of pantheism, but rather that all the world religions realize we can't simply ignore the issues of climate change and that we humans need to reconsider our opinion of the planet and our role in it:
Green religion now applies to generally all religious groups worldwide, though again the biggest challenge is not about whether or not to go green, but putting aside religious differences and joining forces with a common goal to care properly for the planet. In most religions, the belief that a higher being or creator made everything, including us, allowed us to be the caretakers of the planet and use it, is commonplace. However, even within each religion, binding together this concept with green social responsibility and ethics is challenging. For as many religious interpretations that there are, there are equally if not more views on how to incorporate the spiritual side into going green. Ironically, some see such eco friendly spirituality as being a remnant of ancient times and more paganistic religions where planet, plants, rocks and animals were given some small or larger spiritual significance. It is a major barrier that in some ways is one of the main contributors to the issues faced by those seeking green living through their religious beliefs. Worse though, some religious and spiritual people still maintain a hierarchy of which religion is more spiritual, good or environmentally conscious or even has been afforded that right by our creator.

Perhaps the good news that can come with the modern day view of the Planet, is that it is causing people to look again at our place in Creation. I believe we have to reject the view of Deep Ecology which views humans as just a part of creation, and not the best part. In some regards, this view is echoed by Agent Smith of The Matrix who has come to the opinion that humans are nothing more then a virus, and he, representing the machines, the cure.

Part of the problem exists with the view Christianity has had of the Earth and how people view the Christian view. One blog featured this quote:
Man is indeed told in Genesis to have dominion (רדה radah) over the Earth, to subdue (כבש kabash) it. The Hebrew words used can have the sense of crushing, like grapes in a winepress, but also reigning over something, controlling it. Control or reign can of course be benevolent, as well as destructive. E.g. Micah 7:19, in which to subdue (kabash) our sins is a sign of God’s compassion. Leviticus 25:43 ff condemns ruthless dominion (radah). In contrast, 1 Kings 4:24–25 says that Solomon’s dominion (radah) resulted in peace, safety and ‘each man under his own vine and fig tree’. So the type of radah must be decided by context. Since these words were spoken by God into an Edenic situation, before the Fall, it is especially hard to imagine any sort of destructive or ruthless implication to them.

If you consider that comment, and then look to Genesis 2, which is a repeat of the Creation Story but gives another, almost gentler view of the same story.
And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. Instead of dominion, the call is to keep it, to preserve it, if you will. So instead of the mental picture of wanton destruction, the raping and pillaging of the Planet for the sake of the greed of humanity, there is a view of keeping it. In the book of Proverbs, those who care for the environment are viewed as being righteous: A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

So the Biblical view is as head, but not as tyrant. It seems, especially since the Industrial Revolution, the planet has been viewed as a place to exploit for humanity's wealth. When you come to the 20th Century, especially since the end of the Cold War, the rise of greed has increased exponentially that the world has been viewed to exploit. There has been those in the Church who by silence has given approval. Or there has been those who taught, or expressed the opinion that it doesn't matter. So who cares about the environment. With the church stepping out, then there is a void which has been filled.

The idea is this, we are the unique creation of God. That cannot be changed. We because of our status has been given a unique place on the Earth to be ruler, which is different then exploiter. We have been called as stewards of the planet, to take care and keep it, not to abuse it.

With that in mind:

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Green City

After the debacle that was COP-OUT 16 in Copenhagen, there is the realization that national governments seem unable, or unwilling to bring about rules, regulations, agreements and treaties that could bring about changes that will lower carbon emissions and lower the amount of greenhouse gases we are producing and tossing into the atmosphere. We need to bring the levels down to 350 ppm and go even lower if that's possible.

The irony of the recent debacle is that Copenhagen is considered one of the greenest cities on the planet. It might even seem comical, if the results weren't so tragic. After all, we have to remember Denmark led the way in screwing it to the third and fourth world nations with the already established final communique on day two of the conference.

So if national governments can do it, who can? The answer is found on the Internet and it is municipalities. There has been a move through many cities to get serious on climate control and enhancing the environment of the cities. For the most part environmentalists have seen cities as dead zone and as sources of all that is wrong and destructive to the environment. Yet, it is the city, or municipality where the services which are most sensitive to the environment are the most pronounced. Consider it is the municipal government that controls such things are garbage collection and recycling regulations, water treatment and mass transit. These are the services offered by cities.

Right now, the Planet is urban. Over half the population live in cities. This is the new reality:
The world has experienced unprecedented urban growth in recent decades. In 2008, for the first time, the world's population was evenly split between urban and rural areas. There were more than 400 cities over 1 million and 19 over 10 million. More developed nations were about 74 percent urban, while 44 percent of residents of less developed countries lived in urban areas. However, urbanization is occurring rapidly in many less developed countries. It is expected that 70 percent of the world population will be urban by 2050, and that most urban growth will occur in less developed countries.

So if the planet and the people of the planet are going to get its collective act together it must take place at the municipal level. The good news is cities are already sensitive and attempting to do something about it.

In the United States, the US Conference of Mayors is pushing forward a green plan. Over a thousand cities in the States have ratified Kyoto, at a time when the Federal Government refused to do the same. Cities are sensitive and are putting resources into improving the environment, by enacting new recycling laws, attempting to improve infrastructure, of supporting efforts to strengthen and grow the urban forest.

To further give evidence, Vancouver has released a Green Plan, and there is no reason to believe they will not reach their goals. The commitment at the local level is strong and the local government is sensitive and is commited as well to bring it about.

On the topic of going green in the city:
Going green" can mean literally just that -- turning your community green with foliage. And green space is exactly what it sounds like: It's the amount of open space reserved for plants and trees, gardens, parks and nature preserves. Green space improves air quality, cuts pollution levels and energy costs, and adds to the aesthetic of the city.

Some cities are finding innovative ways to include green space in their urban landscape. In 2000, the city of Chicago planted a garden in place of the black tar roofing on a city government building. Green roofing offers similar benefits to gardens and parks at ground level by helping to reduce urban heat islands. Green rooftops also add a layer of insulation to the building, keeping it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, reducing the building's energy costs.

Municipal governments are sensitive to the needs of their constituents, we need to encourage all our local governments to go green and put pressure on national governments to do the same. If we wait for the national leadership to move, it will be too late, but with cities leading the way, a green and more sensitive environmental view can be developed and passed in the world.

So what cities should push for, and what the citizens of the world's cities should demand:
1) clean water and air
2) enhanced and improved mass transit
3) infrastructure that works
4) develop more green spaces in cities
5) new green technologies and green industry.

With this the world might just get better.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bright Green, Viridian Design Movement and Positive Environmentalism

With yesterday being Earth Day, it time to consider the environment and the Planet as a whole. I realize the problem with environmentalism and the Green Philosophy is that we tend to be dour and dire. I mean we're great at rhyming off the number of species that are extinct and are on the verge of extinction, or the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. As for the last one, yeah I've done some blogging on that topic. Not a fun bunch, not invited to a great number of parties. What sort of casual conversation can a person have with someone who will tell you the degradation of the environment and the number of hectares of rain forest that is being logged.

Instead of being so dour and giving economists a run for the money as to who can claim the title; "the dismal science". So there are many who are coming to think of the situation of putting positive views to climate change. By that I mean, we have a technology that can make a difference. Bright Green Environmentalism is defined as:
he term "bright green", first coined in 2003 by writer Alex Steffen, refers to the fast-growing new wing of environmentalism, distinct from traditional forms.[1] Bright green environmentalism aims to provide prosperity in an ecologically sustainable way through the use of new technologies and improved design.[2]

Its proponents tend to be particularly enthusiastic about green energy, electric automobiles, efficient manufacturing systems, bio and nanotechnologies, ubiquitous computing, dense urban settlements, closed loop materials cycles and sustainable product designs. "One-planet living" is a frequently heard buzz-phrase.[3][4] They tend to focus extensively on the idea that through a combination of well-built communities, new technologies and sustainable living practices, quality of life can actually be improved even while ecological footprints shrink.

The concept is being picked up. The City of Vancouver has released a paper entitled: "Vancouver 2020: A Bright Green Future".
The greenest city in the world will be a vibrant place where residents live
prosperous, healthy, happy lives with a one-planet footprint, so as not to
compromise the quality of life of future generations or people living in other parts of the world...Vancouver 2020: A Bright Green Future identifies the kind of innovative actions that will help us meet our targets, but the plan is not intended to be comprehensive. City staff, in concert with residents, businesses, and other interested parties, will develop detailed implementation plans for achieving the 2020 targets. Finally, we have included seven Bright Green Ideas, potentially transformative
actions that could accelerate Vancouver’s ascent to the top of the greenest city rankings.

With this as the view, the City will probably make a good go at the target and probably reach, if not all ten, then the majority of them.

The second part of the title is from a movement established by Bruce Sterling. The Viridian Design Movement has as its philosophy:
he Viridian Design Movement was an aesthetic movement focused on bright green environmentalist concepts. The name was chosen to refer to a shade of green that does not quite look natural, indicating that the movement was about innovative design and technology, in contrast with the "leaf green" of traditional environmentalism. The movement tied together environmental design, techno-progressivism, and global citizenship.

Bruce Sterling has closed down the movement because of the growth of the bright green movement. I think he moved too soon. Let's get the information out to as many as possible.

He wrote a manifesto:
In 1914, the lamps went out all over Europe. Life during the rest of the twentieth century was like crouching under a rock.

But human life is not required to be like the twentieth century. That wasn't fate, it was merely a historical circumstance. In this new Belle Epoque, this delightful era, we are experiencing a prolonged break in the last century's even tenor of mayhem. The time has come to step out of those shadows into a different cultural reality.

We need a sense of revived possibility, of genuine creative potential, of unfeigned joie de vivre. We have a new economy, but we have no new intelligentsia. We have massive flows of information and capital, but we have a grave scarcity of meaning. We know what we can buy, but we don't know what we want.

The twentieth century featured any number of -isms. They were fatally based on the delusion that philosophy trumps engineering. It doesn't. In a world fully competent to command its material basis, ideology is inherently flimsy. "Technology" in its broad sense: the ability to transform resources, the speed at which new possibilities can be opened and exploited, the multiple and various forms of command-and-control -- technology, not ideology, is the twentieth century's lasting legacy. Technology broke the gridlock of the five-decade Cold War. It made a new era thinkable. And, finally, technology made a new era obvious.

But too many twentieth-century technologies are very like twentieth-century ideologies: rigid, monolithic, poisonous and non-sustainable.

We need clean, supple, healthy means of support for a crowded world. We need recyclable technologies, industries that don't take themselves with that Stalinesque seriousness that demands the brutal sacrifice of millions. In order to make flimsy, supple technologies thinkable, and then achievable, then finally obvious, we need an ideology that embraces its own obsolescence.

The immediate future won't be a period suitable for building monuments, establishing thousand-year regimes, creating new-model citizens, or asserting leaden certainties about anything whatsoever. The immediate future is about picking and choosing among previously unforeseen technical potentials.

Positive Environmentalism is not a blind adherence to the notion that 'technology can save us', it is a view that technology offers us the tools to make the radical changes that will bring about a better world for us to live in. The tools are there, but there still needs to be the will and desire to use them. No sense keeping them hanging in the shed, they must be used. That is still the challenge.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day 40

Today is Earth Day, so Happy Earth Day. This is also the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day. The day was designed to be a study and teaching day to understand the Earth, environment and the impact we humans have on the planet. A day we consider what we're doing right and doing wrong to the Planet.

It's also the concluding day of the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. Tbe purpose of this conference is to:
One of the Cochabamba conference's stated objectives[2] is to provide an alternative platform for civil society and governments to discuss climate change issues, and specifically to produce proposals for new commitments to the Kyoto Protocol and projects in the lead-up to the next UN climate negotiations scheduled during the COP 16 meeting in Mexico in December 2010.

One of the purpose is to establish a declaration for the Rights of Mother Earth. This is an important part of the Bolivian government, they are becoming very green in their thinking. To them environmentalism is becoming state policy.

I'm not making this a long blog tonight, so I'm going to conclude with the Preamble to the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth:
We, the peoples of Earth:

gratefully acknowledging that Mother Earth gives us life, nourishes and teaches us and provides us with all that we need to live well;

recognizing that Mother Earth is an indivisible community of diverse and interdependent beings with whom we share a common destiny and to whom we must relate in ways that benefit Mother Earth;acknowledging that by attempting to dominate and exploit Mother Earth and other beings, humans have caused severe destruction, degradation and disruption of the life-sustaining communities, processes and balances of Mother Earth which now threatens the wellbeing and existence of many beings;

conscious that this destruction is also harmful to our inner wellbeing and is offensive to the many faiths, wisdom traditions and indigenous cultures for whom Mother Earth is sacred;

acutely conscious of the critical importance and urgency of taking decisive, collective action to prevent humans causing climate change and other impacts on Mother Earth that threaten the wellbeing and survival of humans and other beings;

accepting our responsibility to one another, future generations and Mother Earth to heal the damage caused by humans and to pass on to future generations values, traditions, and institutions that support the flourishing of Mother Earth;

convinced that in order for communities of humans and other beings to flourish we must establish systems for governing human behavior that recognize the inalienable rights of Mother Earth and of all beings that are part of her;

convinced that the fundamental freedoms and rights of Mother Earth and of all beings should be protected by the rule of law, and that the corresponding duties of human beings to respect and defend these rights and freedoms should be enforced by law;

proclaim this Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth to complement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to serve as a common standard by which the conduct of all human beings, organizations, and cultures can be guided and assessed; and

pledge ourselves to cooperate with other human communities, public and private organizations, governments, and the United Nations, to secure the universal and effective recognition and observance of the fundamental freedoms, rights and duties enshrined in this Declaration, among all the peoples, cultures and states of Earth.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Movies: Music and Metaphor

The inspiration of this blog is from a couple of places, first of all, while waiting at the video store for Katrina to make her choices, I was listening to the Movie Music channel on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Yes I am still a subscriber and continue to enjoy the musical choices and channels. As I listened i thought about a discussion that took place on the podcast "East Meets West". The question was, and this was a month or so ago, all I recall is listening to it as I waited for the bus, so that means on a Monday morning. The question was, is movie theme music the modern day classical music? There was a fair bit of discussion over the subject, from the definition of 'classical music', to what is theme music really about. I understand those who don't agree with the concept of movie music as 'classical music', since the term, in the narrowest of defimitions refers to a specific period of music. It is usually defined as music written between the period 1750-1824. In the broader sense, it refers to any orchestral style music and performance. Usually anything before the 1940's, although contemporary, modern and post-modern music involves the use of orchestra and other styles which are with classical music. Certainly a great deal of movie scores are based upon orchestras. All one has to consider is anything by John Williams, for example. If you consider his works scored for the Star Wars series, for example, one finds new classical music. Part of the argument was that this music is usually variations of themes. As well, the music tends to be part and parcel of the movie or just part of the overall experience. This leads to the question, could the music stand on its own, as a piece of music, or does it need the visual cues of the film to assist with the enjoyment. To answer this question, I suggest listening to some film score, especially if you have seen the movie and ask yourself if you can see the scene or scenes connect with the score. The music is an important part of the enjoyment of the movie.

However, to this, one has to understand that much of classical music was background music for the wealthy patron of the composer. There was an expectation for pieces for special dinners and other special events. Not necessarily the symphonies, but the other songs. They were the soundtrack of life, if you wish and enhanced the social event, much as film scores enhance the enjoyment of the movie.

So I would have to say, that as we understand the term in the general sense, film scores can be considered classical music for our times.

As for metaphor, this is based upon the episode "Rosebud", from the most excellent show "Northern Exposure". Part of the story of the episode is the fact the shaman Leonard Quinhagak, played by Graham Greene seeks to learn about the healing properties of white folklore. What he ends up hearing is nothing but various urban legends. They confuse him, in fact after an encounter with Chris ( in the Morning), he asks the question:
How does the rise of capitalism explain the one about the woman in the VW?

Chris attempted ot explain an urban legend to him and failed.

However, as Leonard sits with Ed in a theatre, watching "Citizen Kane", he comes to a realization:
Leonard: Maybe this is white magic, movies. They do say they're magic. It seems to have healed you.
Ed: Yeah, my stomach feels better. But soon, the movie will be over.

Movies are indeed our stories, our mirrors in many ways. They are the escape mechanism, just consider the movies made during the Great Depression. They inspire and perhaps do bring a sense of healing to our lives.

The photograph on the top of the blog comes from, of course, Casablanca, which is one of my favourite movies. I have often thought what makes the movie great, besides the acting, is the fact that Rick is willing to sacrifice his true love Ilsa and put her and her husband on the plane to Lisbon. If it was a typical romance in which he meets her and rekindles the romance in the usual way, it would have been a nice wartime romance, but it is in the sacrifice, and a willing sacrifice that makes the movie as great as it is. He does admit:
Rick: If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.
Ilsa: But what about us?
Rick: We'll always have Paris. We didn't have it before...we'd...we'd lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.
Ilsa: When I said I would never leave you...
Rick: And you never will. But I've got a job to do, too. Where I'm going, you can't follow. What I've got to do, you can't be any part of. Ilsa, I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that. Here's looking at you, kid

To be honest, it is he who lost Paris. Although likely it was simply buried under his bitterness and anger. This is why he never stuck his neck out, he realized sticking it out for anyone was dangerous.

Of course, Captain Renault, at the end of the movie recognizes a few things that were happening with Rick:
Renault: Well I was right you are a sentimentalist
Rick: Stay where you are. I don't know what you're talking about
Renault: What you did for Laszlo and that fairy tale you invented to send Ilsa away with him. I know a little about women my friend. She went but she knew you were lying.
Rick: Anyway, thanks for helping me out.
Renault: I suppose you know this isn't going to be pleasant for either of us, especially for you. I'll have to arrest you, of course.
Rick: As soon as the plane goes, Louis.

The healing, to answer Leonard's question, takes place when Rick realizes he gained more by sacrificing his self-interests and demonstrate his true love for Ilsa. The cause she and Victor Laszlo represent are greater then his feelings of love for Ilsa and so he steps aside and lets them both go to Lisbon and freedom.

So here's looking at you kid.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Matt Smith is the Doctor

This Saturday on both Space and BBCAmerica, the premier episode of the new season of Doctor Who will be shown. It is exciting for a number of reasons, first of all, there is a new producer. Russell T. Davies has stepped down. After bringing the Doctor back to television, he relinquishes control to Steven Moffat. The other change, and this is always a big one, there is a new Doctor. David Tennant has decided to step down from the role. To him all Who fans should give thanks, he has been a wonderful Doctor. If Christopher Eccleston is credited as bringing back the Doctor, in fact in past blogs I have called Eccleston one of the best Doctors of all time. In fact, the only thing that stops him from being the best is the fact he only had one season. If he could have stayed, well, if wishes were horses, right?

Still a word of thanks must go to David, he solidified the role and the show. If there were doubts at the re-launch, I would say those doubts are no longer around. I can't imagine anyone at the BBC saying: "you know, I think this whole Doctor Who was a bit of a mistake...". Such thinking does not exist.

Now we have a new Doctor and his name is Matt Smith. When I first saw him, I must admit, I was not at all sure, in fact my first thought was: "They've hired the lead singer of A Flock of Seagulls".

It's the hair.

However, he seems to brought youth and the vitality we expect from the Doctor. Let me say that I have seen the first episode. Don't look so shocked, have you never heard of the Internet??

You can continue to read, I will not include any spoilers. I don't want to spoiler your enjoyment of the episode.

I tried to think about his performance and I have to admit, he demonstrates a great deal of confidence and authority. When one considers he is the youngest actor to take the role, it is something. Also, he reminded me, in a way of the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee. Jon brought a lot of 'James Bond' into the role, the Doctor became a man of action and as you can see from the trailer that pattern will be with this Doctor.

In fact there seems to be a youth movement with the new season. A new Doctor, a new companion. We have Karen Gillan as Amelia 'Amy' Pond. Much is being made of her rather sexy image. In fact one of the local newspapers in England report of her glamorous photoshoot. There has been some complaints about it, to them I say, have you never heard of Jo Grant, who was the companion of the already mentioned Third Doctor. In fact she was as much an action figure as the Doctor was, so don't lose much sleep over this portrayal. In fact I seem to recall reading the that companion was often female so as to bring Dad to the telly to watch with the kids.

I should say there's a few other Third Doctor references, but I will leave you to find them.

There is a new beginning to the show with a slight change to the theme song. Again, no spoilers so just watch.

Roger Chang spoke on a recent episode of the podcast "East Meets West", that it might take a few episodes to warm up to Matt Smith and I would agree. The show and the role is in good hands but it will take a bit of time to get used to Matt Smith, so don't discount him, just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Let me finish with the new trailer:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

To Wear or not To Wear

It seems to be a rite of spring, as the flowering of fruit trees and the greening of the grass, comes articles discussing the merits of wearing a bike helmet or not wearing a helmet. This blog was inspired by a recent article in the magazine Spacing. The issue is to whether people should wear a helmet when they bike. If not compulsory, should it be something that is encouraged.

The idea is that wearing a helmet is safe. You're riding a vehicle that is open and if you get hit by a car, or simply fall off it, at least your head will be safe from the impact of hitting the pavement or a vehicle. From one point, it makes sense, after all the brain is an important organ and so you should have a few ounces of foam and plastic on your head will keep you from suffering brain damage.

However many will point out there are detriments to wearing helmets. For example, they will say that people hate wearing helmets and so if compelled to do so will mean they will not ride a bike. Helmets are considered too hot to wear or that wearing one gives the tragic effect of 'helmet head' or 'helmet hair'. Of course we understand there is nothing that makes a person a pariah as helmet head.

Others will point out that nations such as Denmark and the Netherlands are no helmet laws and very little bike riding fatalities. The situation there is the reality of a strong cycling culture and the government has gone out its way to devise special roads and pathways for cyclists. I would question putting these two nations into the mix because they are so bike friendly.

Am I saying that cycling is dangerous? As I consider my own cycling experience I would count the number of falls as being negligible. Mind you, those accidents have been quite good and I still have the scars in my knees to show those accidents. There is something about doing wheelies in a gravel covered parking lot that is not the smartest thing to do. I've done a few endo's in my life, usually when I've hit a rut and couldn't get out.

Others will say that wearing a helmet causes a change in behaviour to the cyclist. They feel they can take greater risks, such a riding faster or not paying closer attention to road conditions or traffic situations. I suppose there is some truth to that, although I would wonder if the same feeling exists with those who wear seatbelts while driving. Does that alone explain for increased speeds? Probably not. I would suggest most people don't consider anything when putting on a seatbelt, they wear it and now its just part of the driving experience.

Others will point to this conclusion:
A widely cited systematic review calculated the effect of helmets on brain injury from three studies of cyclists given emergency treatment, with a total of 347 concussions or other brain injuries (plus many superficial head wounds).16 The data I present are based on 10 479 head injuries severe enough to appear in hospital admissions databases. The lack of obvious benefit from helmet laws may be because helmets (which prevent head wounds) are not designed for forces often encountered in collisions with motor vehicles or other serious crashes that cause most head injuries requiring hospital admission. Helmets may also encourage cyclists to take more risks, or motorists to take less care when they encounter cyclists, counteracting any benefits.3 Cyclists compelled to wear helmets may take less trouble to wear them correctly and ensure they fit well, reducing their effectiveness.w16

So what do we do? I will say that I wear a helmet. I don't think its a problem at all, when I'm doing recreational cycling, or even some bike commuting I wear a helmet. Is it because I feel the activity is unsafe? No, not really. Perhaps a better word would be 'respect', for what could possibly happen. These things are called 'accidents' for a reason, in that there is a risk of something going wrong. Does that statement mean cycling is unsafe, no it doesn't. While I have the scars, I can also say that the last time I had an accident on the bike is about ten years ago. Has my riding decreased over that period of time, I can say it has not. It has been stable, perhaps not as much as Vancouver days, but its still up there.

So why do I wear a helmet? Well for a few reasons, first of all, riding in BC means wearing a helmet. It's the law and so you simply get used to wearing a helmet. Secondly , helmets are cool, there is enough vents to ensure proper air circulation. Also, they are cool to wear. Helmets look nice and while the word 'helmet' may not be the best word, they are great to wear. It's one less worry and while I jokingly will tell people I feel invulnerable while wearing one, I know I still have to have the same precautions while wearing a helmet.

Is there a change? I can say one thing, I do feel safe and that's the bottom line.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Week after the Night Before

So we are now almost a week into the era of the iPad, the amazing new devise from Apple that is supposed to change how we look at a computer. I must admit it does look shiny, new and groundbreaking.

It has been reviewed and most people have thought it was wonderful. David Pogue wrote an article in the New York Times entitled "Looking at the ipad from two angles".

There is a lot to be impressed by the ipad, certainly it is a large ipod touch, but as pointed out, what's wrong with that? Right now it has bluetooth and wifi, plus the ability to download and install apps from the Apple iTunes store. No doubt by the time I'm finished this blog, there will be ten of thousands available for free or for a price. The screen and images are supposed to be gorgeous. It is a tremendous media player for people who want a straightforward devise that allows them to enjoy media, either music, movies, photographs, games or to surf the web and write email. or at least to tweet.

One person who thought the world of it was Jeff Jarvis. In the recent TWIg podcast, he and Leo were practically salivating over their ipads. I felt sorry for Gina Trepani, who was the lone member of the triumvirate who hadn't succumb to the temptation and purchased one. Seriously, it was embarrassing to watch them go on and on about it.

However, the next day, it seems he had a change of heart, he writes in his blog: "iPad Danger":
The iPad is retrograde. It tries to turn us back into an audience again. That is why media companies and advertisers are embracing it so fervently, because they think it returns us all to their good old days when we just consumed, we didn’t create, when they controlled our media experience and business models and we came to them. The most absurd, extreme illustration is Time Magazine’s app, which is essentially a PDF of the magazine (with the odd video snippet). It’s worse than the web: we can’t comment; we can’t remix; we can’t click out; we can’t link in, and they think this is worth $4.99 a week. But the pictures are pretty.

So we become consumers of media and not creators. This is a step back, since the dawn of the personal computer, it has been about creating. Now that applications are growing in number and ability and sheer computing power is also growing, people can create. They can post, write, create all the content they want, and now it seems Apple wants to bind us tight in a devise that controls us.

What I find annoying about Mr. Jarvis is all his complaints, such as the lack of the USB port, didn't exist prior to Saturday. In fact when he held it and gushed so openly, there was not a USB port to be found. However it wasn't until after the hangover of those 6 or 7 Apple Kool-Aids he downed did he realize the truth. This machine is lacking. I had complained to a person the lack of a card reader as one reason not to buy. If you take digital photographs, you're using a card, either SD or CF, but there's no place to put the cards. However I have discovered that you can buy an attachment for your digital camera and cards, for only $30.00US.

In some ways, Jeff hit the bottom of the tech reviewers and their love of all things Apple. As pointed out to me, Apple could stick its logo on a beat up garbage can and people would line up days in advance to purchase one. Perhaps this is true. Apple does seem to get a free pass when it comes to its products. Jarvis fell for it, and then wakes up the next day and realizes the hottie he picked up, who looked so good after a few beers, isn't that hot in the morning.

Now it has been reported that Jeff plans to return his iPad. No doubt he has taken the pledge not to be so gullible for the next Apple product. We will wait and see.

Perhaps the most honest person is Cory Doctorow, he wrote a piece in Boing Boing entitled: "Why I won't buy and iPad"

Right now the iPad is not available in Canada. It is supposed to come and of course, it will come hamstrung, this is Canada after all.

The question is this, is it worth it? Yes there are a lot of other questions too, such as why buy this when for half the price you can buy a netbook, if you want a small form factor, or for the same price a pretty good laptop. I suppose its up to the person what they want to do and with a full understanding what you can't do with it.

Perhaps the second generation will add what people want.