A Zero-Emission Future Means Urgent Transit Improvements Now

note: this article first appeared on David Suzuki Foundation’s blog. I have shared this very valuable message because of it’s urgent importance to our modern society, no matter where we live in the world.

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By Steve Kux, Climate & Clean Energy Communications & Research Specialist

The Metro Vancouver transit plebiscite results are in. Although people in Metro Vancouver voted against a small tax increase for transit and transportation improvements, we can all take away some positive lessons from the campaign.

This result doesn’t mean that people rejected transit and transportation improvements. Advocates for a No vote shifted voters’ attention to issues with TransLink, Metro Vancouver’s regional transit authority, and off of the transportation projects proposed by the region’s mayors, making it impossible to say why people voted no.

We know there’s support for better transit and transportation options in Metro Vancouver. That’s why 145 groups joined the Better Transit and Transportation Coalition, the biggest and broadest coalition of its kind in B.C.’s history. That support doesn’t end with a No vote.

We should remember that 38 per cent of people voted yes for better transportation and transit. That’s significant. They voted for better transit to benefit the environment, economy and public health. They recognized that supporting transit and transportation improvements is the single most effective regional response to climate change. Campaigners for the No side themselves voiced support for transportation improvements, even if they didn’t agree about how to achieve them.

While we at the David Suzuki Foundation accept that voters have spoken, we’re concerned about the effect this result will have on the region’s livability. Years of delays are likely before any new transit comes online — with the unfortunate, predictable increase in road congestion and pollution as Metro Vancouver’s population grows. It’s incumbent on all levels of government to find funding for transit and transportation improvements to keep the region livable. The provincial government and the Mayors’ Council must show leadership to find a way forward to fund the projects that Metro Vancouver desperately needs.

The David Suzuki Foundation would like to thank the organizations, supporters and volunteers who worked for a Yes vote, along with everyone in Metro Vancouver who voted on this important issue. It was a long campaign and we knew it wouldn’t be easy to translate this complicated issue into a simple Yes or No decision.
One thing is certain and that is our commitment to transit solutions as one of the best ways to address climate change. We will continue to support research and advocate for transit improvements for Canada’s large urban areas. Traffic gridlock does not have to become the new norm and emissions from transportation do not have to continue to rise.

We look forward to the innovative solutions that will lead the way to a more sustainable future.

Original article found here.

Reassessing TSA Airport Security

~ an essay by Bruce Schneier

note: this essay was originally posted on CNN, and Bruce Schneier’s own blog. It is highly suggested you subscribe to Bruce’s blog if you’re at all interested in digital security.

TSA Screens Passengers At Denver International Airport

DENVER – NOVEMBER 22: Air travelers move through a main security checkpoint at the Denver International Airport on November 22, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The TSA is bracing for heavy traffic the day before Thanksgiving, as two separate internet campaigns are promoting a “National Opt-Out Day” protest during which travelers are urged to “opt out” of the new body scanners because of concerns over privacy and possible exposure to radiation. Those passengers who refuse the scans must instead undergo an enhanced pat down by TSA agents, which could further slow down security lines on the busiest air travel day of the year. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images) (Photo source: Huffington Post)

News that the Transportation Security Administration missed a whopping 95% of guns and bombs in recent airport security “red team” tests was justifiably shocking. It’s clear that we’re not getting value for the $7 billion we’re paying the TSA annually.

But there’s another conclusion, inescapable and disturbing to many, but good news all around: we don’t need $7 billion worth of airport security. These results demonstrate that there isn’t much risk of airplane terrorism, and we should ratchet security down to pre-9/11 levels.

We don’t need perfect airport security. We just need security that’s good enough to dissuade someone from building a plot around evading it. If you’re caught with a gun or a bomb, the TSA will detain you and call the FBI. Under those circumstances, even a medium chance of getting caught is enough to dissuade a sane terrorist. A 95% failure rate is too high, but a 20% one isn’t.

For those of us who have been watching the TSA, the 95% number wasn’t that much of a surprise. The TSA has been failing these sorts of tests since its inception: failures in 2003, a 91% failure rate at Newark Liberty International in 2006, a 75% failure rate at Los Angeles International in 2007, more failures in 2008. And those are just the public test results; I’m sure there are many more similarly damning reports the TSA has kept secret out of embarrassment.

Previous TSA excuses were that the results were isolated to a single airport, or not realistic simulations of terrorist behavior. That almost certainly wasn’t true then, but the TSA can’t even argue that now. The current test was conducted at many airports, and the testers didn’t use super-stealthy ninja-like weapon-hiding skills.

This is consistent with what we know anecdotally: the TSA misses a lot of weapons. Pretty much everyone I know has inadvertently carried a knife through airport security, and some people have told me about guns they mistakenly carried on airplanes. The TSA publishes statistics about how many guns it detects; last year, it was 2,212. This doesn’t mean the TSA missed 44,000 guns last year; a weapon that is mistakenly left in a carry-on bag is going to be easier to detect than a weapon deliberately hidden in the same bag. But we now know that it’s not hard to deliberately sneak a weapon through.

So why is the failure rate so high? The report doesn’t say, and I hope the TSA is going to conduct a thorough investigation as to the causes. My guess is that it’s a combination of things. Security screening is an incredibly boring job, and almost all alerts are false alarms. It’s very hard for people to remain vigilant in this sort of situation, and sloppiness is inevitable.

There are also technology failures. We know that current screening technologies are terrible at detecting the plastic explosive PETN — that’s what the underwear bomber had — and that a disassembled weapon has an excellent chance of getting through airport security. We know that some items allowed through airport security make excellent weapons.

The TSA is failing to defend us against the threat of terrorism. The only reason they’ve been able to get away with the scam for so long is that there isn’t much of a threat of terrorism to defend against.

Even with all these actual and potential failures, there have been no successful terrorist attacks against airplanes since 9/11. If there were lots of terrorists just waiting for us to let our guard down to destroy American planes, we would have seen attacks — attempted or successful — after all these years of screening failures. No one has hijacked a plane with a knife or a gun since 9/11. Not a single plane has blown up due to terrorism.

Terrorists are much rarer than we think, and launching a terrorist plot is much more difficult than we think. I understand this conclusion is counterintuitive, and contrary to the fearmongering we hear every day from our political leaders. But it’s what the data shows.

This isn’t to say that we can do away with airport security altogether. We need some security to dissuade the stupid or impulsive, but any more is a waste of money. The very rare smart terrorists are going to be able to bypass whatever we implement or choose an easier target. The more common stupid terrorists are going to be stopped by whatever measures we implement.

Smart terrorists are very rare, and we’re going to have to deal with them in two ways. One, we need vigilant passengers — that’s what protected us from both the shoe and the underwear bombers. And two, we’re going to need good intelligence and investigation — that’s how we caught the liquid bombers in their London apartments.

The real problem with airport security is that it’s only effective if the terrorists target airplanes. I generally am opposed to security measures that require us to correctly guess the terrorists’ tactics and targets. If we detect solids, the terrorists will use liquids. If we defend airports, they bomb movie theaters. It’s a lousy game to play, because we can’t win.

We should demand better results out of the TSA, but we should also recognize that the actual risk doesn’t justify their $7 billion budget. I’d rather see that money spent on intelligence and investigation — security that doesn’t require us to guess the next terrorist tactic and target, and works regardless of what the terrorists are planning next.

This essay previously appeared on CNN.com.

East Van Snobriety

I live in East Vancouver, a district of Vancouver that encompasses a plethora of little villages with residential & business zoning closely tied together, intermingling on street parking, laneways filled with recycling boxes, garbage cans, graffiti, chicken coops and overhead electric wires, community gardens, greasy spoon all day breakfast diners, dive bars, overwhelming homeless problems, hipster joints, and all the cool kids.

It’s a beautiful place to live, for the most part a very friendly and pleasant community to hang out in with most people saying hello while out for a walk on a lovely Vancouver day.

But – yes, there’s a but – there’s a problem.

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In This Twilight by Josephine Cardin

Josephine Cardin - In This Twilight

When I see art that I like, I seem to have a moment of frantic disbelief, scrambling to capture and enjoy and seek more and more of what I’ve just uncovered.

Thankfully we have the internet.

Josephine Cardin (FB, Behance) is an artist that does that for me. In her bio she states: “But at the end of the day, I live to create and create… well, because it is fulfilling, and fun.”

It is clear to understand that Cardin has a background in dance, but she’s also an art historian, a visual artist, and a photographer. One thing that I appreciate of artists is when they pull from multiple disciplines to influence their current works, Cardin seems to have a magical aura about her work that is dripping in historical significance.

I have chosen In This Twilight to showcase Josephine Cardin’s work because it is an astounding exploration of body, movement, fine art, light, and feature. Immediately I am left wondering how she has managed to create such detail in muscle structure yet her lighting seems to be so soft and delicate that even the background fades into darkness. There is mood in the motion, there is a distance one can feel. And the background! It makes me feel like a smoky dream wafting around the room, lost in a memory, which melds perfectly with the fabric that is being used throughout the project.

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The Art Affair II | The Vancouver Club

The Art Affair - The Vancouver Club

On July 11, 2014 – 15 artists will get together for the second installment of The Art Affair. This affair will be held at the Vancouver Club (915 West Hastings St), a very fine establishment in the heart of Vancouver, occupying the Grand Ballroom on the second floor from 5 – 10 pm.

The evening promises great fun for all who attend, as there will be cocktails, live music, canapes and lots and lots of fine art ranging in price from $25 – $4000.

The artists showing their work at this event will be:

The Art Affair II - The Vancouver Club - July 11 2014

 

La Belle Pêche Nue | Burlesque at its Finest

La Belle Pêche Nue - The Rio Theater - Lola Frost, Melody Mangler, Roxi D'Lite - Event PosterThis coming weekend, on June 21st 2014, The Rio Theater will be hosting La Belle Pêche Nue, an amalgamation of high-art theatrics, sensuality and grace. Or for short, striptease.

The lineup:

Lola Frost, Melody Mangler, Roxi D’Lite (Miss Exotic World 2010), Villainy Loveless, August Wiled, Jungle Cat, with Mistress of Ceremonies – Cass King. Let’s not forget about stage Muscle & Style provided by Brent Ray Fraser and Socratease

Lola Frost is known for her Rock and Roll, but also for her fierce glances that both warm and freeze a victim happily at the same time. Melody Mangler can caress you with her magic like none other. Roxi D’Lite is known as the Drinkin’, Smokin’, Strippin’ Machine, the bad girl of burlesque, voted in the “Top 5 Burlesque Performers” in the world, three years in a row for 21st Century Burlesque. Villainy Loveless has a tendency to stick daggers into your heart and enjoy it. August Wiled will make your jaw drop with her back bends, her long legs, and her startling intimacy.

This is a nude review. On June 21st, Canada’s most renowned burlesque performers will doff their pasties and g-strings and appear in all their glory, fully nude, in the most stunning striptease show Vancouver has seen since the Neo Burlesque Revival!

With only a few days until the show, tickets are selling quick. I’d highly suggest making an appearance for this spectacular.

La Belle Pêche Nue
June.21st,2014
The Rio Theater
Doors at 8pm, Show at 9pm
Tickets $25 General /$50 VIP
Tickets available online

La Belle Pêche Nue - The Rio Theater - Lola Frost, Melody Mangler, Roxi D'Lite - Event Poster

 

To Riga, Latvia with Art Nouveau

Riga, Latvia is a place from the history books. You see, as trading increased in Europe it cultivated cities that were easy to get to by boat, making them into major trade centers. Northern Europe trading routes were dominated by a merchant guild known as the Hanseatic League or Hanse (Hansa) est. 1358. One trading city, a member of the Hanse, was Riga, situated at the tip of the Gulf of Riga and surrounded by the Daugava River which allowed the Western European traders to expand their trading routes deep into Eastern Europe.

Riga Latvia map

Riga has a very impressive Art Nouveau district. Art Nouveau was most popular in France around 1890–1910 and was naturally adopted in cities around the world that were under European influence, and by the allure of Paris. Another architectural specialty of Riga is the 19th century wooden buildings.

Coming from North America, where the country is hardly 100 years old, let alone the buildings, this kind of thing is incredibly fascinating to witness, to see, to touch. I always step forth upon the cobblestone roads with a sense that I’m stepping side by side with ghosts of the past.

Art Nouveau, Riga, Latvia | source: Ned Tobin

Art Nouveau, Riga, Latvia | source: Ned Tobin

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Things to Keep in Mind While Writing Poetry

I stumbled upon this essay by Dana Gioia called Thirteen Ways of Thinking About the Poetic Line.

He outlined some very interesting facts and factors to keep in mind when constructing a poem, illuminating all the elements available to the poet as they express their prose.


  1. The most obvious difference between prose and verse is lineation. In art the obvious is always important—although it is usually exactly what experts ignore. Poetic technique consists almost entirely of exploiting the expressive possibilities of lineation as a formal principle to communicate and intensify meaning.
  2. The three common principles of organization for the poetic line are metrical, syntactic, and visual. Each system operates by different rules, but all systems share the assumption of the paramount importance of lineation in focusing the expressive energy and meaning of the poem.
  3. Every element in a poem—every word, line break, stanza pattern, indentation, even all punctuation—potentially carries expressive meaning. If you do not shape that potential expressivity, each passive detail weakens the overall force of the poem. Those passive elements are dead weight the poem is obliged to carry.
  4. There should be a reason why every line ends where it does. Line breaks are not neutral. Lineation is the most basic and essential organizing principle of verse. A reader or auditor need not understand the principle behind each line break intellectually, but he or she must intuitively feel its appropriateness and authority.
  5. The purpose of lineation in verse is to establish a rhythm of expectation that heightens the listener’s attention and apprehension. The purpose of poetic technique, especially meter, is to enchant the listener—to create a gentle hypnotic state that lowers the listener’s resistance and heightens attention. Free verse lacks the steady physical beat of metrical poetry, but it seeks the same neural effect by different means. Lineation is the central organizing principle of free verse.
  6. The reasons determining line length should be consistent within a poem— unless there is an overwhelming expressive necessity to violate them. It takes time and energy to establish a pattern of expectation. Violate the pattern too easily or too often, and the governing pattern falls apart. A badly executed pattern is worse than no pattern. Without an expressive pattern there is no poem.
  7. Every poem should have a model line. The standard line length should be clear—consciously or unconsciously—to the listener or reader. The standard should be maintained throughout the poem, except for meaningful expressive variation. After each of these disruptive junctures, the poem either returns to the model line or creates a new standard. The expressive value of all disruptions should be greater than the loss of momentum and the breaking of the pattern’s spell.
  8. Each poetic line has two complementary obligations—to work well within the total pattern of the poem, and to embody in itself the power of poetic language. The successful poem does not merely balance those differing obligations; it uses them as partners in a seamless dance. Unless they dance, there isn’t poetry, only versified language.
  9. Each line should have some independent expressive force. Filling out a pattern is not sufficient justification for a line of verse. It should have some independent vitality in musical, imaginative, or narrative terms. The individual line is the microcosm of the total poem. It should embody the virtues of the whole. That is one reason that poetry can be quoted with such advantage.
  10. The lineation tells the reader how to hear, see, and understand the poem. As the central formal principle of verse, lineation establishes the auditory and semantic patterns of the poem. The overall formal power of the poem cannot be achieved if lineation is done carelessly.
  11. Line endings represent one of the most powerful expressive elements in poetic form. Poetic lines turn on the final word in each line. (The original meaning of versus is “to turn a plow making furrows in a field”—hence “the turn” is one of the ancient governing metaphors for poetry and poetic technique.) This verbal turning point, even when it isn’t rhymed, offers enormous potential for meaningful effect.
  12. The word at the end of a poetic line should bear the weight of imaginative or musical scrutiny. The end word of a line is highly visible and audible. Never end lines on weak words unless there is a strong expressive necessity. The end words—rhymed or unrhymed—should generate energy for the poem.
  13. The line break is nearly always audible (and always visible), even if only as a tiny pause or echo. One doesn’t hear the bar in music, but the trained listener always knows where it is by the shape of the notes around it. Since the line break is so prominent, it must be used for expressive effect. If it doesn’t work for the poem, it will work against it.

So there you have it. I really couldn’t have put it better myself!

Have anything to add? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

Dead Mother by Egon Schiele

Egon Schiele (June 12, 1890 – October 31, 1918) painted Dead Mother in 1910 in Czech Republic.

Let me step back a few moments.

Schiele – as many artists tend to do – lived an alternate type of lifestyle as he explored. For example, when he was younger and his fascination in trains grew, his father (who was the train master in Tullen) was so disturbed by his representation of them that he had to burn his sketch books.

At 16 he was accepted into Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Arts and Crafts) in Vienna (1906), to which he was encouraged by the instructors a year after to go to the more formal and traditional academy, Akademie der Bildenden Künste. It is without a doubt that the conservative styles of both academies frustrated Schiele, which ultimately led him to leave 3 years later. Schiele founded the group Neukunstgruppe (“New Art Group”) with other dissatisfied students shortly after leaving Akademie der Bildenden Künste.

Around this time, Schiele found Gustav Klimt (an alumni of Kunstgewerbeschule), who happily took interest in Schiele, encouraging him by purchasing his work, trading his work for Schiele’s, and also arranging exhibits and models for the younger artist. It was at this time that Schiele met Walburga (Wally) Neuzil, a young lady who would be the model for many of his future works and partner for some time. Around 1911 they were chased out of Český Krumlov (Krumau) in southern Bohemia (Czech Republic) – the birthplace of Schiele’s mother – because the residents strongly disapproved of their lifestyle, not to mention their employment of the town’s teenage girls as models (allegedly).

In 1912 Schiele was arrested for seducing a young girl below the age of consent. Hundreds of his drawings were seized because they were considered pornographic, but the charges of seduction and abduction were dropped. However, during the trial, the judge burned one of the offending drawings over a candle flame.

It is tragic to learn that the Spanish flu pandemic (which took 20,000,000 lives in Europe) took Schiele’s pregnant wife of 4 years (not Wally), and Schiele himself 3 days afterwards at the age of 28.

Dead Mother

It is interesting to note that Dead Mother is part of the Expressionist movement, a symbolic painting that clearly has influence by psychoanalysis. Austrian neurologist and founding father of psychoanalysis, Freud (May 6, 1856 – September 23, 1939), was becoming very eminent in theology, and as a result, all society. This reasoning process, and identification led to some very astounding revelations in many genres of expression, particularly in art.

It is almost too easy to identify certain aspects of Schiele’s life with this painting. His eldest sister died at the age of 10, when Shiele was just 3 years old. His father died in 1904, when he was 14, and his mother had lost a child at birth and also had a stillborn. To further complicate things, his mother married his fathers brother-in-law (this fact seems odd).

Morbid is the word, dark and tortured.

Photo source: commons.wikimedia.org

Photo source: commons.wikimedia.org

Sources:

David Suzuki | Citizen scientists can fill info gaps about Fukushima effects

A very interesting article written by David Suzuki recently delving into the aftermath of Fukushima in the wake of the nuclear emergency caused by the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

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By David Suzuki with contributions from Ian Hanington, Senior Editor

An Internet search turns up an astounding number of pages about radiation from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant meltdown that followed an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. But it’s difficult to find credible information.

One reason is that government monitoring of radiation and its effects on fish stocks appears to be limited. According to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, “No U.S. government or international agency is monitoring the spread of low levels of radiation from Fukushima along the West Coast of North America and around the Hawaiian Islands.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s most recent food testing, which includes seafood, appears to be from June 2012. Its website states, “FDA has no evidence that radionuclides from the Fukushima incident are present in the U.S. food supply at levels that would pose a public health concern. This is true for both FDA-regulated food products imported from Japan and U.S. domestic food products, including seafood caught off the coast of the United States.”

The non-profit Canadian Highly Migratory Species Foundation has been monitoring Pacific troll-caught albacore tuna off the B.C. coast. Its 2013 sampling found “no residues detected at the lowest detection limits achievable.” The B.C. Centre for Disease Control website assures us we have little cause for concern about radiation from Japan in our food and environment. Websites for Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency yield scant information.

But the disaster isn’t over. Despite the Japanese government’s claim that everything is under control, concerns have been raised about the delicate process of removing more than 1,500 nuclear fuel rod sets, each containing 60 to 80 fuel rods with a total of about 400 tonnes of uranium, from Reactor 4 to a safer location, which is expected to take a year. Some, including me, have speculated another major earthquake could spark a new disaster. And Reactors 1, 2 and 3 still have tonnes of molten radioactive fuel that must be cooled with a constant flow of water.

Photo source: Ned Tobin | www.nedtobin.com

Photo source: Ned Tobin | www.nedtobin.com

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