Michaelwclark.com

Just my stuff


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Google Street View – What is Big Brother Watching?

My screen capture of Google Street View – Click on image for full size. Follow this link for “live” travel and image credit >> https://goo.gl/maps/ZVjnLLMNHPJ2

Web cams in public spaces are a fact of life. Also, individuals with video-equipped phones have changed our way of life. In a nutshell, abusive people can’t get away with what they used to get away with, because chances are they’ll be videoed and perhaps charged.

That’s the plus side.

The down side, detractors say, is that we lose some degree of our human rights and freedoms. Supporters will rejoinder that public cams enhance human rights, because nobody has the right to harm another or trangsress their right to live in peace.

This debate has been going on for decades. In its political form, probably for centuries.

I first read about it in Zygmunt Bauman’s book, Socialism The Active Utopia. But subconsciously I’ve been aware of it since my teens. Power, government, freedom. It’s a delicate balance.

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Sign of the Cross – Sign of the times?

Originally published in 2007 at Earthpages before we migrated to WordPress

The other night Turner Classic Movies ran a wonderful 1930’s production called The Sign of the Cross. Basically it’s about early Christians being hunted down and persecuted in the Roman empire. Toward the end, the film gives a dramatic portrayal of the power of faith as imprisoned Christians face the prospect of being eaten alive by wild beasts at the Colosseum (which really happened), with an especially inspired performance by Elissa Landi.

After the close of the movie, the critics at TCM said absolutely nothing about the power of faith but zeroed in on the importance of a woman’s breasts being partially shown in a milk bath and how a lusty gay scene was mostly edited out some years later once Hollywood prohibitions kicked in. Interesting stuff, but really quite tangential to the main message…


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21st Century Signs and Urban Changes

Image via Tumblr

Now that I’ve finally got a good mobile phone that takes nice pics, I’m beginning a new venture, one that has been percolating for some time now. Actually two ventures. One is a photo series called “21st Century Signs.” The other is a series called “Urban Changes.”

21C Signs will chronicle signs that catch my eye as I go about my daily business. I won’t crop or filter the images. It’s just a quick historical snapshot. The series might seem unexceptional today, but in the future I think folks will be interested.

Urban Changes is about how my city, Toronto Canada, is changing soooo fast. Old buildings are disappearing by the truckload. New buildings are coming up and altering our skyline like never before. So this series will outline abandoned, soon to be trashed, and glittering new structures.

You can keep up by simply coming here because it’ll all be on Twitter. And my personal Twitter feed is at top right of this page. I was lucky to grab the name “@MikeClark” at Twitter early in the game, when Twitter was just taking off. If you want to see the whole thing, here’s the link:


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21st Century Signs

Thinking I’m going to start a new photo series called “21st-century signs” or something like that. I’ve been fascinated by street signs for a while now. Some are just boring but others stand out. I always marvel at pics of old times. So maybe someday people will look back at these and think…”oh, how old fashioned!”

To make it easier, a very dear soul gave me their not-too-old smart phone. Up ’till now I’ve been using a dumb phone but since the phone was free, I couldn’t resist!

Image via Tumblr


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Only in Toronto…

assbackwards-01.jpg licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. Click image for source.

Toronto sports fans are rejoicing that the Leafs finished dead last in the NHL season this year.

Why?

Because this dismal season made them eligible for a lottery to get the first draft pick for the upcoming season. And they won the lottery. So theoretically, Leafs get to choose the best new player. I say theoretically because there’s no guarantee their pick will actually turn out best.

Many fans actually wanted the Leafs to lose their final games so they could get this pick.

To me this is the same kind of ass backwards philosophy that runs through much of Canada: Keep the dollar low so we can attract foreign business and, especially, customers for exports like good ol’ Texas Tea (Alberta blend). Meanwhile, tax more so we can (supposedly) get better services.

It’s a loser’s game… in sports and life. Far better, I think, to always do your best rather than skulk around in the mud.

 

 


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One thing leads to another

A Netgear DG632 ADSL modem with an 8 pin JTAG ...

A Netgear DG632 ADSL modem with an 8 pin JTAG header at location “5”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s a holiday here in Canada, so I was taking it slow this morning. Every now and then our internet connection needs to be reset by restarting the modem. That happened today, so I got up out of my comfy chair and went down to the basement where the modem sits.

I also have a personal reference library in the basement, so while waiting for the necessary 10 second “off time” before restarting the modem, glanced at some of my books. A dictionary of anthropology caught my eye. Browsing its pages while waiting for the internet to return, I found some interesting material on the idea of liminality.

You’d think I’d know all about this concept; it’s right up my alley. But as things go, I’ve only made note of it until now.

Some quick research on Wiki produced these two links. I highly recommend them to anyone interested in religion and the related idea of numinosity. Of particular interest is the distinction anthropologist Victor Turner makes between the liminal and the liminoid. The one is structured and expected by society, and more like work (e.g. going to Church); the other is free and playful (e.g. going to a rock concert). But both apparently have similar effects. They transport you somewhere out of the ordinary.

For me, going to Church is a lot more than just a “trip.” And I only go when I feel called to do so (not via social pressure). But that’s something I’ll elaborate on at earthpages.ca. In the meantime, I just wanted to link to these two exciting finds.

This second link is an interview with Talal Asad. I was pleasantly surprised to discover his views on postmodernism and religion. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. And it’s always great to find an “established” thinker who’s saying things that you’ve already thought about. It gives you a sense of reinforcement and encouragement. After all, a single innovative thinker is often ignored or marginalized (as has been my experience). More than one, however, and people start to take notice.

Apart from my personal story, I really believe that humanity would benefit from using all of the intellectual tools we have at our disposal… especially with regard to religion and society.


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Spin me another slanted, selective story…

Justin Trudeau at the 2006 Liberal leadership ...

Justin Trudeau at the 2006 Liberal leadership convention. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Transcript, with a few edits, from dictation with the Dragon app)

We all know that the news is slanted. But recently in Canadian politics a story came up that made this so painfully obvious. This story might not be of immediate interest to non-Canadians. But bear with me. It points to bigger problems.

It’s a story about Eve Adams, a former Conservative party member who defected to the Liberal side. On CBC TV she was televised live with the Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/eve-adams-former-conservative-mp-joins-liberal-party-1.2950048

Smiling and wide-eyed, she seemed enamored with Trudeau, telling us what a strong, optimistic leader he was. Adams also said she left the Conservative party because it was “mean-spirited.” So I accepted what she said at face value, until later in the evening when I found this news story. Here we find a very different Eve Adams:

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/02/09/mp-eve-adams-moves-to-liberals-from-conservatives.html

And then this:

http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/02/09/eve-adams-crosses-the-floor-to-join-justin-trudeaus-liberals/

I don’t know what Adams’ true reasons were for leaving the Conservative party. But I think it’s important to read all the different sides to the story. And I can only wonder how many other news stories – not to mention scientific findings – are just as colored as we see in these reports.