Monday, July 26, 2010

Global Warming: Have they no grandchildren?

New York Op-Ed columnist Thomas Friedman wrote another piece on global warming. In it he quotes contrarian hedge fund manager Jeremy Grantham writing in his July letter to investors:

“Conspiracy theorists claim  to believe that global warming is a carefully constructed hoax driven  by scientists desperate for ... what? Being needled by nonscientific  newspaper reports, by blogs and by right-wing politicians and think  tanks? I have a much simpler but plausible ‘conspiracy theory’: the  fossil energy companies, driven by the need to protect hundreds of  billions of dollars of profits, encourage obfuscation of the  inconvenient scientific results. I, for one, admire them for their P.R.  skills, while wondering, as always:

‘Have they no grandchildren?’ ”

Friday, July 23, 2010

And when I die . . .

When I was in my twenties I spent an evening listening to Laura Nyro singing on the stage of the Masonic Temple Auditorium in Detroit. It was years later, while working the electronic picture desk at The London Free Press, that I learned of Nyro's death from breast cancer; She left us while still far too young. I sat at my work station and quietly cried.

I closed my eyes and I could see Nyro on stage, sitting at the keys of her grand piano, singing, "And When I Die." And I cried.

The other day I celebrated my birthday. I'm 63. I'm now older than my dad when he died from heart disease. And I'm older, much older, than three of my uncles, my dad's brothers, who all died from heart disease.

Whether or not I'll make 64 is an open question. I feel quite confident that I will but it is certainly no longer the sure thing that it seemed just weeks ago. In the past month or so, I have suffered a bout of V-tach and a TIA event causing temporary blindness in my left eye.

I'm now on a beta-blocker for the heart and Plavix to thin my blood to prevent another TIA event. My blood pressure last night was 89 over 48 with a pulse of 43. My beta seems well blocked.

Now, about that Laura Nyro concert and my lingering connection to that night. I took a young date to the then young singer's concert. We drove to the hall in my then young Morgan roadster. I lost track of that young lady years ago but I still have the aging Morgan. We've grown old together. We've both had valve jobs, we've both had work done on our pumps, and on our electrical systems too. And we both just keep going and going and going.

I don't kid myself, I won't go on forever. But I'm not going to wait to die before recognizing and honouring the "one child born"; I can see that baby and enjoy her right now: Fiona. My little, bubbly granddaughter brings the light of youth into my life. She opens a window into a world where hips don't ache and knees don't buckle, where every day is better than the last, where growth, daily improvement, is the expectation and not the exception.

The words of Nyro's song, written in her youth, didn't seem so poignant when I was young. Yes, I "don't want to die uneasy, just let me go naturally."

And When I Die

And when I die and when I'm dead, dead and gone,
there'll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

I'm not scared of dying and I don't really care.
If it's peace you find in dying, well, then let the time be near.
If it's peace you find in dying, when dying time is here,
just bundle up my coffin cause it's cold way down there,
I hear that's it's cold way down there, yeah, crazy cold way down there.
And when I die and when I'm gone,
there'll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

My troubles are many, they're as deep as a well.
I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell.
Swear there ain't no heaven and pray there ain't no hell,
but I'll never know by living, only my dying will tell,
only my dying will tell, yeah, only my dying will tell.
And when I die and when I'm gone,
there'll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on. 

Give me my freedom for as long as I be. All I ask of living is to have no chains on me.
All I ask of living is to have no chains on me,
and all I ask of dying is to go naturally, only want to go naturally.
Don't want to go by the devil, don't want to go by the demon,
don't want to go by Satan, don't want to die uneasy, just let me go naturally.
And when I die and when I'm gone, there'll be one child born, there'll be one child born.
When I die, there'll be one child born. When I die, there'll be one child born.
When I die, there'll be one child born. When I die, there'll be one child born.

A companion piece to the above is a post I did last January. It, too, features Fiona. If you have the time and the inclination, check What Is Happiness?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Where are the pictures?

The London Free Press carried no pictures from the Bruce Coburn concert.
Bruce Cockburn was in London Saturday performing at the Home County Folk Festival, a big annual Southwestern Ontario event. And the hometown paper blogged about it. They'd say they reported it and blogged on it, but with the quality of newspapers severely hampered by staffing cutbacks, the difference between their off-the-cuff blog posts and their more in-depth news stories is becoming blurred.

The one story is on a reporter's Free Press blog and carries information supplied gratis by a reader. The other report on Cockburn's appearance is an LFP story. Check them out: Cockburn CaptivatesMe and a Face in the Crowd: Home County/Bruce Cockburn. Note there are no pictures! My guess is no photographer was working Saturday night. No shooter, no shots. It's that simple --- or that cheap.

And you know what else is missing, some information. The newspaper's blogger/reporter asks: "How many of us were there . . . ?" The crowd estimates, supplied by JBNB, range from about 3,000 to 70,000.

If newspapers cannot staff events held a short walk from the paper itself, if the paper cannot supply a crowd estimate with a tighter spread than 3000 to 70,000, why should we continue to think of them as our best source of local information? Are they trying to tell us something when they file reports as blog posts?

Oh wait, a lot of real bloggers would supply pictures. (And maybe better crowd estimates.)

By the way, I did call the paper to offer them my pictures but all I got was an answering machine. The paper has a way of allowing readers to supply images but they want them donated; They do not pay one cent for the rights to a reader's pictures. In this situation the paper seems to be more a charity than profitable business.

If you make a picture donation to this media charity using their "Your Scoop" feature, it is demanded you grant the paper, ". . . worldwide, irrevocable, royalty-free and non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, distribute, transmit, broadcast and publish that Material for any purposes, on any material form and in perpetuity."

When I clicked on Photos to find the Your Scoop link, you might be interested to see what picture popped up. It appears there's ample time and staff to post a "supplied" picture of two-time world land-speed record holder Valerie Thompson.

I wonder if anyone noticed her foot is cropped off awkwardly at the ankle? Oh well, lots more of Thompson still shows in the picture --- maybe enough to make up for the missing foot.

James Reaney's LFP blog now has pictures supplied by Christine Newland, the principal cellist with Orchestra London. I think it is safe to say that because of staffing cutbacks, the paper was unable to send a staff photographer to the Bruce Cockburn performance. Now that the local paper is openly partnering with readers for facts and art, the distinction between journalists and citizen journalists is becoming blurred.

A young woman I know studied photojournalism at college. It was her passion. Upon graduation, this U.S. based photographer discovered the local newspapers around her hometown are all relying more and more on readers for pictures. Work in the industry is drying up.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Vacation Continues

We are now in Thessalon and winding down. This was the shortest drive we have had in quite awhile. Tomorrow we only have to drive three hours to a ferry and then we can relax. After the cruise, we have only a one hour drive.

The next day we drive home!

For more info see my post on the Digital Journal.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Vacation Continues

The stuff you see driving down the TransCanada highway over Lake Superior.

I'm blogging on my vacation on the Digital Journal.