ponedeljek, 17. februar 2014

Enough is enough, Sir David Attenborough!

Sometimes, even the most steadfast intellectuals "lose" it.

This is David Attenborough, the face of modern naturalist documentaries, such as Life on Earth series, Planet Earth and Life (you could consider watching the Secret Life of Plants, it's really fascinating) saying that he's had it with denial in US:

[it is] extraordinary that one of the wealthiest, materially advanced societies in the world can support irrational myths in that way,” he said. “That they should do it privately is up to them but since what they do effects that whole world it’s pretty serious that they should not accept that humanity has been responsible for these changes that are absolutely evident to everyone else.”
From: Sir David Attenborough: Enough With the Creationists and Climate Change Deniers! | The Daily Beast, 11.2.2014, link here.

Now, I'll just quote the same source: 'Attenborough has made a career of resisting controversy, often describing himself as “a reporter” with no views of his own.'

Though to be honest, one thing is for sure: changes can be seen (or is part of it also the Baader-Meinhof effect as we talk about them more?), but the causes and the extent of those drivers is still debated. And debate is generally good.
  But if the debate is potentially artificially generated by those who stand to lose the most, or when the "debate" and the controversies encourage the stalemate, then well, you do need a change.

Because, you see, it's not about the butterflies anymore. It's about us. All of sentient and non-sentient (?) beings on this planet that were "raised" in a certain climate, with certain food sources and certain living environments. When all of these what used to be certainties change ... you've got yourselves a problem humanity.
  And I am saying humanity, as 'life [on Earth] will find a way'. It just may be that the Earth of tomorrow will be w/o the human species.
Meh. I'll just go eat my sandwich, pray excuse me.

[Addendum] {funny}
Sir David Attenborough's describes Olympic curling, in his signature voice & approach. This is golden.

Read more at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=777_1392789840#OwKmCtFhm93oPcPl.99

Google Glasshole at a Glance

From the interwebs:

Oh, gods. "...is Google Glass sexy? /.../ Enter 'Glance,' a new app that lets users record and watch sex from all angles."
"/.../ I count on sex being the one time of day when I don't have to be holding in my stomach: please, Glass, don't take that small comfort away from me.

"The app's terminology, as well, is particularly ham-handed. You start the app by telling Glass 'it's time,' and end it by telling Glass to 'pull out.' Ugh. Who on earth did they consult for their market research, Ron Burgundy?"

Link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/10591948/Google-Glass-sex-tape-app-is-the-most-appalling-use-of-technology.html

sreda, 12. februar 2014

'Right2Water' campaign: first ever European Citizens' Initiative hearing

This I copy directly from the EU website announcement, here.

I find it cool and weird at the same time. Oh, and to the prestigious list of words I don't quite like (because of their confunding potential and fancy sound), I *provisionally* add liberalisation. (I refer to the second sentence in the second paragraph, here.)

Parliament is to hold a public hearing next Monday on the universal right to clean water, the first EP hearing under the European Citizens' Initiative allowing the public to ask the EU authorities for new legislation.
The "Right2Water" campaign group has gathered almost two million signatures to its initiative calling on the Commission to draw up legislation to ensure universal access to adequate supplies of clean drinking water and sanitation throughout the EU. It will present its demands at the first ever European Citizens' Initiative hearing.

The campaigners point out that universal access to water is a human right enshrined by the UN. They will present their three key goals at the hearing, which are: “guaranteed water and sanitation for all in the EU”, “global access to water and sanitation for all” and “no liberalisation of water services”. They promote the provision of water and sanitation as essential public services for all and believe that these services should not be subject to EU internal market rules.

The public hearing, organised by Parliament's environment committee in association with the petitions, internal market and consumer protection and development committees and starting at 15.00 on Monday, 17 February, follows up the registration of the initiative by the Commission on 20 December 2013. It will provide a platform for debate with MEPs, the leaders of the ‘Right2Water’ initiative and representatives of the European Commission.

Citizens' Initiative

The Citizens' Initiative was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty and gives EU citizens who are eligible to vote in the European elections an opportunity to help shape the EU agenda. To qualify, a Citizens' Initiative must be signed by at least one million EU citizens, from at least seven of the 28 member states, within 12 months of the registration date. It must also fall within the Commission's remit.
REF. : 20140210IPR35552
Updated: ( 11-02-2014 - 09:01)
Again, this was copied in its entirety from here.

sreda, 05. februar 2014

Brouhaha ... or "bless you, you've come straight from God"

Brou, ha ha. It's actually funny, how the words change meaning through centuries (and especially, where they come from - see below).

Brouhaha means 'great excitement or concern about something' (on Merriam-Webster). Online Dictionary describes it as:

excited public interest, discussion, or the like, as the clamor attending some sensational event; hullabaloo: The brouhaha followed disclosures of graft at City Hall.
an episode involving excitement, confusion, turmoil, etc., especially a broil over a minor or ridiculous cause: A brouhaha by the baseball players resulted in three black eyes.

1885–90; < French, orig. brou, ha, ha! exclamation used by characters representing the devil in the 16th-cent. drama; perhaps < Hebrew, distortion of the recited phrase bārūkh habbā ( beshēm ădhōnai ) “blessed is he who comes (in the name of the Lord)” (Ps. 118:26)
From Dictionary.com, here.

What I find interesting, is what my today's discovery, the Online Etymology Dictionary gives (here):
1890, from French brouhaha (1550s), said by Gamillscheg to have been, in medieval theater, "the cry of the devil disguised as clergy." Perhaps from Hebrew barukh habba' "blessed be the one who comes," used on public occasions (cf. Psalm 118).

There. Now you know.
Today, it means great excitement ... via "muahaha, the devil is here", possibly from "bless you, you've come straight from God".

Retarded tweet - and the response

Just wow. The response from John Franklin Stephens, I mean.

After Ann Coulter referred to President Obama as a retard in a tweet during a 2012 presidential debate, Special Olympics athlete and global messenger John Franklin Stephens wrote this open letter:

Dear Ann Coulter,

Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren't dumb and you aren't shallow. So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult? ...

I'm a 30 year old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public's perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow. I am not either of those things, but I do process information more slowly than the rest of you. In fact it has taken me all day to figure out how to respond to your use of the R-word last night.

I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child by people like you, but rose above it to find a way to succeed in life as many of my fellow Special Olympians have.

Then I wondered if you meant to describe him as someone who has to struggle to be thoughtful about everything he says, as everyone else races from one snarkey sound bite to the next.

Finally, I wondered if you meant to degrade him as someone who is likely to receive bad health care, live in low grade housing with very little income and still manages to see life as a wonderful gift.

Because, Ms. Coulter, that is who we are – and much, much more.

After I saw your tweet, I realized you just wanted to belittle the President by linking him to people like me. You assumed that people would understand and accept that being linked to someone like me is an insult and you assumed you could get away with it and still appear on TV.

I have to wonder if you considered other hateful words but recoiled from the backlash.

Well, Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor.

No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much.

Come join us someday at Special Olympics. See if you can walk away with your heart unchanged.

A friend you haven't made yet,
John Franklin Stephens
Global Messenger & Special Olympics Virginia

There is some sense in what she is saying in a response - that some words enter the language and start to mean something similar as the original ... though it seems to me this is still a very, very touchy subject.

  Plus, words have power. Power to change. (This is the first thing motivational/self-development guru's will tell you.) If we refer to specific sub-culture or minority or group of people in a particular way, we label them. Put them in box. Nobody wants to be labelled, ladies and gents. Nobody wants to be in a box. Because it's hard to get out of it again. And - as an extreme example - a lot of killing was justified by labelling.

  That's the oldest trick in the book, for turtle's sake! First, you make a group "invalid", un-normal, thereby dehumanising them to some extent. Then you trample some more of their rights. Then you go for other groups who oppose you or who people could hate (and thereby support your action against them). Yes? No? I mean, it's all there in the history books, if they haven't changed them yet.

I posted another entry on the matter of able-ism (a word I've never heard prior to that), here.

ponedeljek, 03. februar 2014

Date a girl who travels

Date a girls who travels is a response from "stephabroad" to someone else posting something under a title Don’t date a girl who travels ... look, it doesn't matter, really.

What matters is that this is a short, beautiful read. I for one like it. Cheerio.

See here: http://stephabroad.com/date-girl-travels/

sobota, 01. februar 2014

It's possible. Les Brown on Roger Bannister

It's possible.
Saying that to yourself everyday will change your belief system.

“Most people operate out of their personal history, out of their memory,
things they’ve done, things they’ve experienced, things they’ve seen, things that they have observed.

What I’m suggesting is that you operate out of a larger vision of yourself, I want you to see yourself doing what you want to do, experiencing what you want to experience, having what you want to have, doing what it is that gives your life some meaning and value, operate out of your imagination not your memory.”

From the speech of Les Brown - It's possible.

Operate out of your imagination, not your memory.

Before April 8th 1954 [It seems it was 6th of May], the common belief, the universal belief, (because it had been tried, again and again and again and again, and people had failed), the belief was that man was physically not capable of breaking the 4 minute barrier, that he could not run a mile in less than 4 minutes. That was the belief. On the planet. It had never been done...

But here's what happened, ladies and gentlemen: Roger Bannister came along. And he broke the 4 minute barrier. Now here's what's significant about that. Since that time, up to this day, over 20.000 people have done it, including high-school kids! What changed?
  Here's what happened when they got on the track: they knew it had been done! And because they knew it had been done, there was a new belief about this barrier, about this goal that was "unreachable". And those 20.000 people got in the race believing, knowing in their hart that someone had done it, that IT'S POSSIBLE, that they could do it.

And I'm saying that if you know anybody that had some goals, some dreams, something they wanted to do ... and they did it, then I'm saying that you know it in your heart that if someone has done it, than you can do it. It's possible.
  And that if someone can make their dream become a reality, that it's possible; that you can make your dream become a reality.

And so as you begin to look at where you want to go, beginning to embrace that it's possible.
/.../ I got a lot going for me, I got some good stuff in me. And it's possible that I can get my greatness out here in the universe. That I can do what I want to do, it's possible:
I can write my own book,
I can have my own business,
I ... I can take the trip and travel around the world: it's possible!
I can bounce back from adversity and re-invent my life: it's possible!
Regardless of where I am: that things can get better for me: ... it's possible!

Again from the speech: Les Brown - It's possible.

(Funny story: someone also copied this text (I copied some of it from there), but wrote: "be able to run faster than 4 minutes in a 100 mile run". I don't know whether 100 miles is synonymous with 1 mile, but I am guessing this person was not an experienced runner.)

So remember Roger Bannister. What changed? Belief that it is possible.

... Until one day in 1952 after Sir Roger Bannister had beat the current mark, but was still 4 seconds longer then breaking the 4 minute barrier. However, something clearly changed in his mind, “This race made me realize that the four-minute mile was not out of reach,”. Sir Roger Bannister’s new belief had given birth to the fastest 100 mile run on the planet. To elaborate on the subject, people had called it the “miracle mile” and Bannister remarked on the event stating that “No longer conscious of my movement, I discovered a new unity with nature. I had found a new source of power and beauty, a source I never dreamt existed.” 

From: here.

P.S.:  Bannister's record was broken in just 46 days by John Landy, now known as the Miracle Mile.
P.P.S.: He reclaimed the world record again in 3 years.
PPPS- Before Bannister, the record apparently held for 9 years. The current record (in men's category) is held since 1999 by a guy from Morocco, with a 3:43 on the clock. (Yeah, don't forget the women, eh.)

It's possible. Eyesight vs Mindsight.

This is an excerpt from a Story of two men, looking for a job. Here, told by Les Brown, who's made some really nice speeches (and quite some of them are available on youtube).

What was the difference between the two men? Eyesight and mindsight.

Eyesight is judging on what you see. Judging according to appearances.
But mind-sight is how you interpret what you see.
One guy said: it's not possible, it's over, I'm finished. I can't do it, I can't make it. He surrendered. I've faced rejection again and again, I'm not going anymore. There are no jobs out there.
But this other guy.. He felt that inspite of the NOs and rejection, in spite of how bad the economy is, in spite of what the newspapers are saying,
that it's possible.
That SOMEbody, SOMEWHERE will give me a job. He just kept going, thinking it was possible.
And guess what, ladies and gentleman, that's what we have to do with our dreams.

From: Les Brown's speech: It's possible.

Another really nice story is a parabole of the WORLD's opinion about whether or not it is possible to run one mile under 4 minutes. I blogged it here.

Also, you can check this out:
'Mindsight is the difference between saying “I am sad” and “I feel sad.” Similar as those two statements may seem, they are profoundly different. ...' From a page of Dan Siegel.