BOJAN'S BLOG

Photographs, words and sounds
Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Media coverage of your favourite issue

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This post might upset a whole bunch of you. I am okay with that.

My social media feed on an almost weekly basis fills up with outraged posts about mainstream media not covering issue X. Stop doing that because most of the time it’s not true. It hasn’t been true with the Muskrat Falls development in Labrador, it hasn’t been true with the refugee crisis, and it’s not true with the Dakota Access Pipeline. So please stop saying that kind of stuff because you become the problem every time you say it. There is lots of coverage of any given issue. For the sake of the argument, I am going to post stuff that is in my news feed TODAY on Dakota Access Pipeline and the protests surrounding it (I could do the same with climate change, refugees, you name it):

So please stop it. You are all smarter than that. Please stop saying that mainstream media is not covering your favourite issue of the day. They are. They are also covering a whole bunch of other stuff that is just as important (like deforestation in Borneo, or migrant and refugee crisis, or the latest developments in Kurdistan). If you think the coverage of whatever issue you care about is biased or incomplete, than engage with those stories and journalists. Provide facts in your comments, suggest sources that would make the story better, offer your own expertise if you have it. Vast majority of today’s journalists can be reached through comments or social media. It’s really, really easy to help them correct a mistake or make their stories better.

There are a lot of problems with today’s media industry. They need to figure out a whole bunch of things. You telling them they are not doing their jobs when THEY CLEARLY ARE is not helping. Once independent, professional journalism is gone, you are not going to get it back. Your favourite site that posts unedited and out of context phone videos on social media, or an individual who thinks it’s cool to post a 47 years old photo and claim that the media is not properly covering an event,  are not going to be an adequate replacement for thoughtful coverage of complex issues. Whether you like it or not, thoughtful, in-depth coverage requires significant resources, multitude of skills, structures, and editorial oversight. There are some interesting funding models that make that possible outside of a typical corporate structure – crowdfunding, voluntary subscriptions, paywalls, collaborations with public agencies or not-for profits, co-ops, social enterprise models and so on. Not a single one of these or all of them taken together can, at this point, replace the resources, the reach, the depth, and the skill that the New York Times, the Star, CBC, or the Guardian can bring to covering an issue. So let’s help journalists and reporters do their jobs better while they are trying to do a heck of a lot more with a heck of a lot less then ever before.

Also, if you want independent, long-form journalism in Atlantic Canada you can support The Deep and their crowdfunding campaign right here.

/rant

The photograph is from a recent protest against Muskrat Falls hydro development project in front of the Colonial Building in St. John’s, NL.

Graffiti NL style and some photo links

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“Since no genuine enemy exists, he has to be invented. And as universal experience demonstrates, the most terrible enemy is an invented one. I assure you, it will be an incredibly gruesome monster. The army will have to be doubled in size.”
The Doomed City by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

The photograph above was made along a path following the Rennie’s River. That graffito with its careful punctuation marks and precise legibility is my new favourite thing.

And a few photography links just because:

Patriots on the march

15-Family027At first, reading the stories about newly elected (installed? appointed?) Croatian government run by a group of right wing political parties calling themselves the Patriotic Coalition was like watching a Monty Python skit. From a safe distance of some 5,000 km, it was almost funny. It isn’t any more. It is rapidly becoming a horror show.

More that a hundred years ago, speaking in San Francisco, Emma Goldman described what we call patriotism in terms that ring very much true today:

“Patriotism […] is a superstition artificially created and maintained through a network of lies and falsehoods; a superstition that robs man of his self respect and dignity, and increases his arrogance and conceit. Indeed, conceit, arrogance and egotism are essentials of patriotism.”

The photograph was made in St. John’s, NL.

Canadian media, unions, and a flashback

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Today, there is more news about layoffs in Canadian media industry. This time it’s not the CBC that is getting decimated, but Postmedia. They are laying off 90 reporters and merging newsrooms in Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Ottawa. In the meantime, the people responsible for the chaos are collecting seven and six figure salaries. I guess it takes enormous effort to be consistently that greedy and incompetent. The situation is no better in Halifax where the unionized employees of the Chronicle Herald have voted in favour of a strike action after the management presented a truly reprehensible list of demands.

All of it is a bit of a deja vu, to be honest. In 1999 and 2000, Ms. M and I worked for a small news agency covering southern Alberta for major metro dailies. Those were contract positions filled mostly by students like us and they required that you have your own equipment and a car and that you work from home. We lived in a small bachelor apartment in Inglewood and, honestly, those were sweet times. We were newlyweds and we thought we were making inroads in the media industry. Then the Calgary Herald strike happened. It lasted a year if I remember correctly. At one point, about half way through the strike, we were all hauled into a meeting with our editor and this guy they brought from Ontario (St. Catherine’s, I think) as the new publisher whose job was to bust the union. He intermittently yelled at us and tried to sweet-talk us into crossing the picket line. When it became obvious, with the exception of one person, that none of us had any intention of doing so, he told us he will make sure none of us ever worked in the media industry in western Canada. He was true to his word. As far as I know, none of us did – except the guy who crossed the picket line. That asshole who threatened us? He has recently published a book about leadership.

It became quickly obvious to me and Ms. M. that if we wanted media jobs, the best we could do was to move and so we did. A couple of months after we left, the Calgary Herald strike ended. One of the conditions was that the union had to be dissolved.

On this week’s episode of Canadaland, Jesse Brown has a conversation with Nora Loreto about the role of unions in Canadian media. In the interest of full disclosure you should know that I do support the show financially with a subscription. In this episode Jesse Brown, the host of Canadaland, is his usual somewhat pompous and somewhat unaware-of-the-world-outside-of-his-bubble self and Nora Loreto doesn’t appear to understand anybody younger than 35, but I think it was very important to have that conversation publicly. We need unions more than ever, but something needs to change and it needs to change quickly. The unions have to figure out how to make themselves relevant to a new generation of workers – journalists included.

In 2000, we did not cross the picket line because we had respect for the Herald journalists. We were never approached by the union, never offered their side of the story, nobody explained to us what was at stake. In the end, they were just lucky we felt solidarity with the people we saw as our colleagues. Or maybe we were just not yet aware that it would take another 15 years before we paid off our student loans. They can’t expect to be that lucky all of the time.

In the photo is a decidedly non-unionized shoeshiner on the Water Street in St. John’s

Geography links

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The photograph above was made on my way to work one day. I have no idea why these old suitcases were left outside by the fence – probably just for garbage pick up.

Time for some geography links. I haven’t done that in a while.

Let’s start with the worst news in a while as far as magazine industry, and to an extend geography goes. In Canada, geography is very poorly taught in primary, elementary, and secondary school system. To make things worse, even our national popular magazine about geography, Canadian Geographic, is so abysmal we actually did not renew our subscription. So the fact that National Geographic has been purchased by Fox is really tragic. National Geographic is not a perfect magazine, but it is the best magazine on the market that promotes geographic knowledge and encourages interest in the world we live in. It has a strong American bias and a share of other issues, but we had subscription for years. I read every issue and the girls are starting to read stories that are of interest to them. I would like to think that editorial independence and high standards, especially when it comes to visuals will remain as they are or get better, but Fox’s track record is not good. Not cancelling my subscription yet, but watching closely.

After you contemplate the terrifying concentration of the global media ownership, head over to the Economist and take a look at a story that claims that the EU will soon have more internal physical barriers to movement of people than it did during the Cold War.

The rest of the links should be a little bit less pessimistic.

Lucas Foglia has been photographing American West and is concerned about what rural America will look like: “What is going to allow people to continue to live in the rural American West and how are we going to preserve or use the wild land we have left?”

Cornell University Library and its Division of Rare & Manuscript Collections has made public an amazing collection of persuasive cartography. Watch out, it’s highly addictive and you may find yourself wasting ridiculous amount of time – although, in my books, that would not be time wasted.

Two somewhat connected and fascinating stories. The first one looks at just how powerful oral traditions are as repositories of community knowledge. University of Sunshine Coast geographer Patrick Dunn’s research demonstrated that some Australian Aboriginal stories preserve environmental and ecological memories and knowledge stretching as far back as 7,000 years. The second story comes from the world of art and focuses on incredible work by an Australian Aboriginal painter Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri. The fascinating thing is that his intricate paintings are not just visually impressive, but also serve as a repository of community stories. The code is incomprehensible to us, but those who understand it have an access to a lot more than a visually arresting work.

Lawlessness at Sea: Journalism done right

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If you read anything today, make it this series of exceptional stories from New York Times on lawlessness on the high seas. Most of it actually occurs in connection with illegal fishery, which is an incredibly lucrative business.

You can access the whole package through the splash page here or individual pieces:

Stowaways and Crimes Aboard a Scofflaw Ship

Murder at Sea: Captured on Video, but Killers Go Free

“Sea Slaves”: The Human Misery that Feeds Pets and Livestock – on slave labour of the world’s fishing industry.

A Renegade Trawler, Hunted for 10,000 Miles by Vigilantes

All of this is followed by a piece on possible solutions, an interview with a photographer covering one of the stories, and an editorial.

This was so good that I wanted to read all of it and have actually paid digital subscription once I hit the monthly limit of free stories. I suspected all along that if you want people to pay for your digital subscriptions you have to provide unparalleled content and New York Times provided an amazing content. There is a lesson here for Canadian newspapers if there are any real ones left out there.

Middle Cove Beach last year. Perfectly legal caplin rolling.

Photography related links

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Vis on Vis island, Croatia.

Some photo links today:

Guardian has a story and interview with Stephen Shore on his exhibit in Arles.

An interesting story on women photojournalists in [LENS]. Incidentally, I believe June issue of National Geographic had all the stories but one photographed by women and you could see the difference in approach, subjects, and themes they covered.

Fantastic photographs and a very important story in New York Times Magazine on Wisconsin’s governor Scott Walker’s efforts to dismantle organized labour in America.

Contemplating ocean

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This is Miss F. at the Signal Hill National Historic Site in St. John’s.

I look at this photograph as I read, in complete disbelief, this story on the privately proposed monument to… well… I don’t know what in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. How is this even remotely possible is beyond me. I cannot imagine anything more un-Canadian than this monstrosity.

Tito in a St. John’s cab

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When I looked at the driver and even before we said a word to each other, there was a jolt of recognition, a sense of familiarity every immigrant sometimes feels – a genetic alarm telling you that the person in front of you hails from the more or less same ancestral pool. It is not necessarily a joyous feeling, rather a mix of caution and a hope that you might be able to exchange a greeting in a tongue that feels familiar and mysterious this far from its homeland. This cab driver, a Bosnian, and I got along alright. At some point, he pulled the card hanging on an elastic band from his rearview mirror and turned it towards me. And there was Marshal Tito, in all his uniformed glory, in a St. John’s cab. We laughed and he looked out at the snow buried streets and said: “And here we are.”

That was a few months ago. To tell you the truth, I forgot about that photograph. I just developed some film this past weekend and this photograph suddenly became more significant than if I looked at it a couple of months ago. In two weeks, we will be leaving for a much needed family vacation to Croatia. It’s a cause of great excitement. My older daughter has fond memories of a couple of visits she can remember. How could she not? When she is there, she is surrounded by people who genuinely love her and care about her and what is more, they get to see her so rarely that they are willing to fulfill her every wish. That is certainly not how her parents treat her. For the younger one, this is the adventure of her life so far – she is looking forward to almost two months of firsts: a first plane ride, a first train ride, a first trip abroad, and the first visit to grandparents who last saw her when she was a gurgling bundle of diapers and blankets. Above all else, for my daughters, Croatia is a place of madcap stories, odd relatives, happy childhoods and magical beauty. It is that because of me. I am the one who over the years created that narrative and now, as I read yet another surreal article about the rise of nationalism, poisonous catholicism, and glorification of the country’s fascist past I feel guilty about it. I feel I lied to them. I never told them about this other Croatia rapidly unfolding over the last few months on the screen of my laptop.

This Croatia is a country whose nationalists seemingly read Orwell’s essays on nationalism and totalitarianism not as a warning, but a how-to manual for achieving a supreme state of paranoia, xenophobia and the hatred of everybody and everything that is not Croatian. “Every nationalist is haunted by the belief that the past can be altered,” wrote Orwell and Croatian nationalists took it to heart. From nazi salutes at football games to wilful blindness when it comes to the horrendous record of the Croatian nazi collaborators, to fascist movements, to Marshall Tito and five decades of socialism, Croatian nationalists are re-imagining history busily following Orwell’s advice that for nationalists: “…history is something to be created rather than learned.”

And it’s not just history. As the economic recession drags on and the number of the unemployed stays stubbornly high, as those who can leave the country in search of a better life somewhere else, leave, the range of issues that sends nationalists frothing at the mouth is growing: homosexual and reproductive rights are out, misogyny is in, asylum seekers are not welcome, anything to do with science and technology – from vaccines to large hadron collider – is suspicious, Catholic Church is trustworthy, and every crackpot conspiracy theory makes perfect sense to them. After all, Orwell said that “totalitarianism […] in the long run probably demands a disbelief in the very existence of objective truth.”

And so what am I to say to my daughters about this place we are going to? That their worth will be measured by how they look because the opportunities for women in a society overrun by rabid nationalism glorifying violence and subscribing to a bizarre version of fundamental catholicism are non-existent? That nobody will say a word of encouragement to a 12-year-old who is writing her first novel? That the 8-year-old’s ambition to become a chef will be laughed at? That just by virtue of having this cocktail of Austro-Hungarian, Scottish, French and Cree genes running through their veins they are less then perfect? And, maybe worst of all, that their parents are antifascists and humanists who find the crassness and futility of cheap nationalism as scary as it is repugnant?

“And here we are,” as the cab driver would say.

We will go first to an island. Small islanders everywhere still know how to live. After that, we’ll thread carefully. We are going to see a Rodin exhibit and we’ll spend a lot of time with grandma and grandpa discovering some old recipes that have been in the family for generations. We’ll build some memories and strengthen family ties. We’ll hike in the countryside and visit some rural places. We’ll sunbathe and swim in crystal clear waters. We’ll read lots of books. Hopefully, all of it will serve as a bit of an inspiration to a budding novelist and a beginner chef. And I am sure we will have conversations about poverty and unemployment, and what it does to people. And we’ll talk about nationalism and fascism.

And most of all I hope that we will also make some new stories – the family kind we can all share with friends and hopefully they will be just as crazy as those I told to my kids already.

Genesis review

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There are not many books of photographs that are truly important in a larger, social context, but I think that Sebastião Salgado’s Genesis is one such book. Aesthetically, philosophically, and even technically, this is not a perfect book, but, so far, it is this century’s most important collection of photographs.

Genesis is a monumental book in more ways than one. Even the mass-market edition is a large, heavy tome of 520 pages of the highest possible quality. Just touching and turning those 9.6 x 14 inch pages is a pleasure and, incidentally, the reason why  e-books have a long way to go before they come close to matching the experience. The weight, richness and texture of the paper and stunning reproduction of tones are unparalleled. The art editions Taschen has produced are massive two tomes of over 700 18.4 x 27.6 inch pages with a stand, a box, a captions booklet and a silver print all together priced at exclusive $10,000. The only thing that is more impressive than the price is the weight of the entire package – 59 kilograms or 130lb.

There is a reason for this lavish presentation. Salgado, in the introduction to the book, says Genesis body of work is “a visual ode to the majesty and fragility of Earth… [his] homage to the grandeur of nature.” He also, right from the start, declares that this is not a piece of journalism or anthropological research, but rather a romantic endeavour. Philosophically, therein lies a problem. It IS a very romantic view of our planet, but maybe romance is exactly what we need. The larger problem is an occasionally, well, for a lack of better word, colonial representation of some of the Salgado’s human subjects. This is especially evident in some of the photographs from the Patel and in the Sanctuaries chapter. There are a few photographs in those chapters that I find questionable. And while I am dealing with the objections to this book let me say a word about the aesthetics. The photographs are masterful and beautiful, but there are instances where the contrast is cranked up just too much – to the point of turning a photograph into kitsch. This, in some cases at least, maybe be the result of the switch between film and digital technology Salgado made sometime during the project. It is usually quite difficult to tell film and well processed black and white digital photographs apart, but at this size and presented side by side, there are obvious differences. The tonal range of the film is by far wider and more subtle. The opening photograph of the Planet South chapter of an iceberg moving on the Weddell Sea is butter smooth – it’s everything film can be. However, all of these aesthetic, representational and philosophical objections are really nitpicking. This is, after all, Salgado’s book so he gets to set the rules, and he is clearly in top form.

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Before I gush over the photographs, there is one more thing I want to address. Salgado has very publicly and openly acknowledged the support Genesis project has received from the Brazilian mining giant Vale. He has also been very publicly criticized for accepting the corporate sponsorship from a company with a horrendous impact on the environments throughout the world. All I can say about that is that Salgado did not go to Vale first. He went to those magazines and publishers who in the past supported long form documentary work and now, with some notable exceptions such as Rolling Stone magazine, spend majority of their funds buying agent-supplied celebrity photos. That is not Salgado’s fault. The media, public and private, have completely abdicated any responsibility they ever felt for informing the public about the issues of actual real importance and that is the real problem here.

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So – the photographs. They are epic. Truly biblical and if I would compare them to anything, it’s not to another photograph, but to Gustave Doré engravings. There is the same sense of awe and the magical light. These photographs are also unmistakably Salgado. The sheer multitude of individual animals is almost overwhelming. The mass of penguins in the Antarctica is in its magnitude, feel and even composition similar to some of the photographs from Salgado’s previous work. When Salgado focuses his lens on individual animals, the results are stunning, personalities emerge and there is a sense that what you’re looking at is actually portraiture and not wildlife photography. Oddly enough, with some notable exception such as the old San man leaning on his walking stick in Botswana’s Kalahari Desert on page 239 and a fascinating photograph of a mudman performer from Papua New Guinea on page 205, Salgado seemed to struggle with capturing his human subjects with the same clarity. In fact, it is when he photographs humans that the whole notion of ‘the romantic’ approach is pushed too far.

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What works, and works amazingly, are the sweeping vistas of some of the most remarkable landscapes on the planet. The photographs Salgado made in the Arctic and Antarctica are probably the most poetic and the most impressive. These are the landscapes and lifestyles disappearing rapidly under the pressures of climate change.

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If visual ode to the planet, a love letter of sorts, is what Salgado wanted to create, he has succeeded. That is why his book is beautiful, but it is not why it’s important. Its importance is that Salgado has presented us with a visual record of Earth that we don’t often see – a majestic place that is a home to all of us. And now that this book is in front of us, we have to ask ourselves: “Is all this worth rethinking the path we are on?” Now, because Salgado has made this book, we have to make a choice.

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Fundamentalisms…

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In the light of yesterday’s referendum in Croatia that made one form of discrimination (agains gay marriage, in this case) a part of the country’s constitution the words of Karima Bennoune yesterday in an interview with Michael Enright ring sadly true:

“Fundamentalisms are the political movements of the extreme right that in the context of globalization manipulate religion to achieve their political aims. They are basically power projects that use religious discourse to justify an extremist agenda.”

Karima Bennoune in an interview with Michael Enright
(You can hear the whole thing on CBC’s Sunday Edition website.)

On the photograph is the Old Bridge in my home town of Sisak.

On immigration…

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I am about to write something I promised myself I will never write.

A friend in Saint John, New Brunswick, who runs an interesting little media company called WickedIdeas, posted on her Facebook account a story about the provincial government urging everybody who has something to say about what New Brunswick can do to attract and retain immigrants to do so. I had this post in me for a long time, but I always thought that maybe I am holding too much of a grudge and that the time is not right to air all of it. But, since they asked, I’ll oblige.

We lived in New Brunswick for eight years. We moved there as starry-eyed newlyweds after driving across the country in a 1973 volkswagen SuperBeetle. It was older than either of us, rusty and packed to the roof with everything we owned including a bicycle. We drove for over 4,000 kilometres from Calgary all the way to Bathurst and we did not even have a shoe string budget. Probably the craziest thing we ever did.

Bathurst was an eyeopener in many ways and not good ones. I worked for an insane editor who did not dare to bully me, but he did bully everybody else. That is not what made us move. What made us move was the fact that my wife had rocks thrown at her as she walked down a path because she was an “English bitch” as one of the charming young men called after her. We moved because after we went to Youghall Beach on a Sunday with a pressman and his fiancé, I was summoned into my darkroom by his foreman who warned me not to socialize with those people because their class status is below mine. We moved because people called daily to ask my editor why he hired a foreigner and not a local person.

We lasted six months and than we moved to Saint John. It was better. We both had jobs and we made some friends – come-from-aways like us mostly, but not all. Those of our New Brusnwick friends, and you know who you are, you have no idea what your friendship meant to us because it was such an exception.

Our first daughter was born two years after we moved to Saint John. I came to work a couple of days later and the person working in the office next to mine walked in. She did not offer her congratulations. She did not ask about my wife and the baby. What she said was: “You know it takes three generations to become a Maritimer?”

Every once in a while I would get a call at work from somebody ranting against immigrants. My favourite was a lady from St. Martins who called me at the charity I worked for because she thought we helped a little boy from Afghanistan get a heart surgery in Canada that saved his life. Unfortunately, that good deed had nothing to do with us, but it did not stop her from telling me that all those dirty immigrants are just coming to take local jobs, if not outright steal from honest New Brunswickers.

My wife was an investigative reporter at a daily who had her work belittled and stolen by those who hired her. When she broke a major story implicating local businessmen and politicians in an immigration scam, she was told that she does not understand local business culture, being from away and all that. She was told not to write anything longer than 500 words without a special permission.

Our second daughter was born. Then the government canceled Early French Immersion program effectively denying educational opportunities to our children. That was in many ways the last straw.

On top of that, my wife’s workplace became downright abusive. At that point, I freelanced full time. I could get work for  Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian in the UK as well as on national and regional CBC programs, but not locally.

Our friends were experiencing the same brick walls of nepotism and cliquishness we faced. They started moving away. And so did we.

Let me tell you about our very first day in Newfoundland. We’ve never been to St. John’s or to Newfoundland and we did not know a soul here. That first day we went for a walk downtown to find the French immersion school our daughter was going to attend. We found it and liked it. We walked down King’s Road towards Duckworth Street when this grizzled old man ran out of his house and yelled: “Wait, wait, wait…” We were rooted to the spot not quite sure what the heck is going on – our five-year old standing beside us and the one-year old in a stroller. The old man came back carrying a giant polar teddy bear and he said: “I won this in a raffle once. I’ve been waiting for a little girl to pass by so I could give it to her. So, here you go.” My older daughter, hugging this teddy bear almost as big as she was, was speechless and so were we. I would stop and chat with this man sometimes after we moved into that neighbourhood – he did not remember I was the dad of the girl he gave that polar bear to a year ago. I am not sure he even remembered the incident. It was just something he did. I know his name. I know he would have preferred if Newfoundland became a US state rather than a Canadian province. I even made a photograph of him once.

There were many such incidents.

My wife wrote a story for Toronto Star on storytelling tradition in Newfoundland and for that story she interviewed actor Andy Jones – the same way she interviewed hundreds of people in New Brunswick. A month or two later, it was a Sunday and we were walking to Sobeys to pick something up around 2 p.m. when Andy came out of his house and said: “Come in, come in. I have a new puppy. The girls would love to see him.” We left close to midnight that evening after a dinner and an afternoon and evening filled with stories and laughter.

Of course, there have been terrible moments here. We had professional disappointments. We had a nasty landlord. We had a leaky roof and a wasp nest under the clapboards. We had a drug dealer on our street, but we worked with our neighbours and we made the neighbourhood safe again. Childcare has been hard to organize, and housing and food are expensive and there are days in March when you wish to be anywhere else but on this rock in the middle of the North Atlantic. And then a friend comes over and you have a cup of tea or mulled wine and you forget that the wind is blowing at 130km/h and the uncanny mix of rain, snow and ice is falling sideways as usual.

We’ve been here five years. People ask me every day where I am from. They don’t ask because they are angry I have a job, but because they want to fit me into the master narrative of this place or, if I am on Change Islands or Fogo Island, they simply want to know what is that my people fish. That’s what they are like, these Newfoundlanders. They somehow learned how to take what they like and share what they have with those who come from just about anywhere. They will teach you how to make fishcakes in exchange for a Mediterranean fish soup recipe or simply for a good story. They are comfortable with who they are, so they let you be who you are.

If New Brunswick wants to attract immigrants, New Brunswickers will have to make peace with who they are. They have to stop being paranoid about everybody and everything. The world is not out to get you, although there are some very rich folks among you you should keep a better eye on.

Immigrants are not some exotic species of a bird that you can attract by planting the right kind of a tree. You have to accept that we are no different than you. We are not less human than you or more entrepreneurial or smarter or dumber or better or worse educated. We want the same things you do: good neighbours, safe streets, jobs, decent housing, good schools that give our children an opportunity to be the best they can be. We may not speak perfect English or prefect French, but we might speak Croatian, or Urdu, or Farsi, or German, or Dutch, or Mandarin or any other of the hundreds of languages out there in the world. Make us feel like there is a place for us and we will share everything we have with you and be just as passionate about your province and your communities as you are even if we are not third generation Maritimers and even if our family did not come to New Brunswick shores on the first Loyalist ship or during the terrible tragedy that was the expulsion of Acadians. We will volunteer and contribute to our new communities if you give us a chance to build some stability in our lives without feeling like permanent outsiders because we have accents, darker skin, or sometimes wear funny clothes. Don’t expect all of us to be entrepreneurs – most of you are not. Some of us will be entrepreneurs, others will be teachers, and potters, and photographers, and chefs, and some of us will sell delicious samosas at the City Market.

What you do need to understand, though, is that treating us like outsiders even when we spend years trying to make New Brunswick home will make us leave and we will never come back.

My family, we miss our New Brunswick friends. We miss the City Market and the skywalk and the library and the museum and the Buskers’ Festival and every June our older daughter talks about the fair and the rides at the Harbour Station. We miss Canada Day and New Year’s fireworks over the harbour – they don’t do fireworks quite as well here. We miss our landlady terribly. She was like a grandmother to our kids. She was an immigrant, too and her kids are only first generation Maritimers so not yet a real deal, I guess. What we don’t miss are petty snubs, blatant nepotism and constant reminder that we are not part of the place we chose to call home.

If you want immigrants from abroad and from other parts of Canada, you will first and foremost need to be kind. It will make an enormous difference.

 

CBC Dispatches

In 2007, I did two documentaries for CBC’s Dispatches. One was on Croatian elections at the time and the other on the aftermath of the conflict in the Croatian city of Vukovar, which was completely destroyed in the war during the early 1990s. That documentary, with a selection of photographs that were never really meant to be published, is below.

Today, due to recent government cuts, CBC has cancelled Dispatches. This was, without exaggeration, one of the top current international affairs programs in English language anywhere. What made it great was the team that put it together. I learned more about journalism and radio from Alan Guettel, Alison Masemann and Naheed Mustafa during our brief conversations while putting those documentaries together than in four years of university. And that is the real loss to Canadians. CBC and its flagship programs, like Dispatches, don’t just provide news and entertainment programming, but also provide mentoring and teaching opportunities for journalists, especially freelancers. I will miss the voice of Rick MacInnes-Rae and I will always be grateful to Alan, Alison and Naheed.

The last show will air in June. After that, in this increasingly interconnected world, we are going to be slightly poorer, slightly more parochial, slightly more ignorant, and slightly less Canadian- not by much in the grand scheme of things, but I am afraid that it is starting to add up.

In the photo is a door on a stage in a resettled community of Fair Island.

Occupy movement, CBC

If you are looking for something to listen to, Ira Basen’s documentary on Occupy movement is not to be missed (scroll down to the 3rd hour) – not necessarily because it is perfect, but because this is the first time I can remember a journalist treating the Occupy movement seriously.

Speaking of CBC, John Doyle had a biting critique of the public broadcaster as it faces a 10 per cent budget cut. That is massive, by the way. I don’t necessarily agree with everything Doyle has to say, but I do hope somebody at CBC is reading. It is not impossible to imagine that at the end of this government’s mandate there will be no CBC left. If I were in charge of that place, I would stop trying to suck up to the people currently running Ottawa (they are never going to love you) and pour all my resources into solid, investigative journalism. There is no lack of subjects. I am pretty sure that the CBC journalists I know would rather go out with a bang than a whimper.

Three years ago, as CBC was going through another series of cuts, I wrote a blog post about what CBC means to me. That still stands – probably more so than ever before.

In the photo is the last Occupy site in Canada in Harbourside Park in St. John’s.

EU: Za ili protiv?

Prije otprilike godinu dana, prijatelj me je pitao što ja mislim o Europskoj uniji i eventualnom hrvatskom članstvu u toj uniji. Rekao je kako već dugo živim vani, ali sam dovoljno često u Hrvatskoj i pratim što se događa pa bi ga znimalo kakvo je moje viđenje stvari iz neke kanadsko-hrvatske, novinarsko-akademske perspektive.

Nisam mu tada uopće odgovorio. Nisam odgovorio uglavnom iz istih razloga iz kojih nikada nisam glasao na hrvatskim predsjedničkim ili parlamentarnim izborima od kada sam se odselio izvan granica Republike Hrvatske. Kao državljanin Republike Hrvatske čija obitelj i prijatelji još uvijek tamo žive mene zanima što se u Hrvatskoj događa, ali mislim da nemam pravo odlučivati na hrvatskim izborima o tome tko će voditi državu u kojoj ja ne plaćam poreze i u koju dolazim samo kao rijetki turist.

Imao sam priliku studirati u Kanadi na poziv moje obitelji koja je tamo živjela više od dvadeset godina. I oni i moji roditelji su se zadužili i puno toga odrekli da bih ja završio faks. Nisam imao namjeru ostati, no zaljubio sam se, oženio i danas živim na otoku Newfoundland u kanadskoj najistočnijoj i relativno siromašnoj provinciji. Radim na sveučilištu u centru za regionalnu politiku i razvoj i spremam magisterij uz rad. Studiram zemljopis i moj se znanstveno-istrazivački rad bavi problematikom malih otoka u Hrvatskoj i Kanadi. Imam plaću nešto veću od kanadskog prosjeka pa se mogu smatrati srednjim slojem. Supruga mi sprema doktorat i primanja joj ovise o stipendijama i slabo plaćenim istraživačkim projekatima. Klinke idu u školu i vrtić. Podstanari smo i nemamo auto. Da smo u Hrvatskoj u sličnoj situaciji, vjerojatno nam život ne bi bio bitno drugačiji. Da budemo iskren, životni standard, ako ga ne mjerimo samo u materijalnim dobrima, bi nam gotovo sigurno bio i bolji.

Zašto vam sve ovo govorim? Prije svega zato što mi je još uvijek neugodno soliti pamet ljudima u Hrvatskoj, a onda i zato što hoću da znate da ovo piše običan čovjek bez nekih skrivenih namjera.

Dakle, kad bih ja 22. siječnja morao odgovoriti na pitanje “Jeste li za članstvo Republike Hrvatske u Europskoj uniji?” što bih ja zaokružio, ZA ili PROTIV?

Da budem iskren ja još uvijek nisam odlučio i da moram 22. siječnja izaći na referendum ovo što slijedi je vjerojatno ono što bi mi prolazilo kroz glavu.

Prije svega, bio bih ljut kao pas. Bio bih ljut na one koji su pljačkali državu 20 godina. Gledali su samo svoj osobni interes i natjerali nas na ponižavajuće pregovore koji su trajali duže nego s bilo kojom drugom državom članicom EU. Sram me je da su nam kojekakvi europski birokrati morali objašnjavati da su ljudska prava, pravo na povratak izbjeglica, prava nacionalnih manjina, osuda ratnih zločina, pravna država, poštenje i tolerancija neke osnovne civilizacijske stečevine koje moramo barem nominalno prepoznati kad već nemamo dovoljno dostojanstva da ih ustvari poštujemo. Bio bih ljut kao pas na ljude, prijatelje, susjede, pa čak i obitelj, za koje znam da su glasali za i podržavali lopove na vlasti koji su na očigled pljačkali državu i grad u kojem sam odrastao. Činili su to zato da bi se pokazali većim ‘Hrvatima’ od svojih prijatelja i susjeda i zato što su bili uvjereni da će im članstvo u jednoj političkoj stranci kleptomanske kulture donjeti osobnu dobit, posao ili povoljni kredit. Ono zbog čega sam doista bijesan je da su ti isti prijatelji i susjedi digli ruke od svega i u najboljoj hrvatskoj maniri jamrali kako im je teško, ali im nikad nije palo na pamet da izađu na izbore i glasaju za nekog drugog ili se, pazi sad, angažiraju u političkom i društvenom životu vlastite zajednice. Krivi su za te ponižavajuće pregovore baš kao i oni koji danas sjede u Remetincu i oni koji još tamo ne sjede, a trebali bi. Bio bih ljut na vlade koje su dozvolile da se ‘pregovori’ svode na naše klimanje glavom jer kako drugačije objasniti pristupni ugovor kao što je onaj kojeg možete pročitati na stranicama Vlade RH ako se samo udostojite kliknuti na ovaj link: http://goo.gl/lz6OK. Na mom putu prema glasačkom mjestu bio bih ljut i zbog toga što su me natjerali da se izjašnjavam o ugovoru kojeg su već potpisali u moje ime. Možemo zahvalit samo toj Europskoj uniji da NJIHOVA pravila ne dozvoljavaju takvo ponižavanje i omalovažavanje građana pa ipak imamo priliku glasati na referendumu. A bio bih ljut i na sadašnju vladu koja nije u stanju angažirati građane i stvoriti ozračje u kojem se rasprava o pristupu Europskoj uniji može voditi argumentima a ne deranjem i prijetnjama. Trenutna ministrica vanjskih poslova koja je ovaj referendum svela na običnu ucjenu jer o rezultatu ovog referenduma, kao, ovisi hrvatski kreditni rejting i umirovljeničke penzije bi se trebala ispričati građanima i barem ponuditi ostavku. Kao što bi rekli moji kanadski prijatelji, “I won’t hold my breath.”

Ljut ili ne, to sada više nema smisla jer na kraju ja ipak moram zaokružiti ZA ili PROTIV. LJUT jednostavno nije opcija.

Koji su argumenti PROTIV? Na žalost, ima ih puno. I, što je još žalosnije, u Hrvatskoj ne postoje euroskeptici koji bi o tome mogli govoriti na nekakv racionalan i pristojan način. Razlika između euroskeptika i eurofoba, ali i eurofila, je upravo racionalno razmišljanje. Euroskeptika možete uvjeriti argumentima i ustupcima. S eurofobom se ne može razgovarati jer je po definiciji njegov strah iracionalan baš kao što je eurofilovo zatvaranje očiju pred nepravednim i štetnim pristupnim ugovorm također iracionalno.

Ako pročitate pristupni ugovor i sami ćete vidjeti da ima puno toga što ne valja. U principu, bilo koja vlada koja želi napraviti pravu razvojnu politiku morat će to učiniti s jednom rukom zavezanom iza leđa. Na primjer, odredbe o zabrani sadnje novih vinograda i ukidanju malog ribarstva su u principu protuustavne jer vladi onemogućuju ispunjavanje 52. članka Ustava koji zahtjeva posebnu skrb o hrvatskim otocima. Pristupom EU podliježemo strogim proizvodnim i izvoznim kvotama i moramo ukinuti većinu poljoprivrednih i industrijskih subvencija. Da stvari budu gore, pristupni ugovor također kaže da ulaskom u EU mi istupamo iz svih regionalnih i bilateralnih ugovora o slobodnoj trgovini što znači da smo upravo pristali na to da si ograničimo pristup jedinom tržištu na kojem trenutno jesmo konkuretni kao što je to tržište jugoistočne Europe i zemalja bivše Jugoslavije.

Kad bih ja bio radnik, poljoprivrednik, ribar, ili kad bih radio u prehrambenoj industriji ili brodogradnji i glasao samo iz vlastitog interesa, morao bih glasati PROTIV. Pristupni ugovor nije morao biti takav kakv je, a na tome što je takav kakav je možete zahvalit gospodinu u kućnom pritvoru i gospođi s velikom crvenom torbom kao i svim ostalim zastupnicima i pregovaračima koji nisu znali i nisu htjeli ispregovarati pristupni ugovor koji bi bio pravedan i koristan za Hrvatsku.

Naravno postoje izvrsni argumenti ZA pristup Europskoj uniji. Pristupni fondovi, ako se pametno iskoriste, mogu pokrenuti hrvatsko gospodarstvo u novom i dobrom pravcu. Pravna stečevina i pristup europskim sudovima dodatna su garancija ljudskih i radničkih prava i zakona o zaštiti okoliša. Europski fondovi za znanost, kulturu i regionalnu suradnju bit će od izuzetne pomoći našim znanstvenicima, umjetnicima i raznim nevladinim udrugama koje se bave svime od kazališta i folklora do zaštite okoliša i ljudskih prava. Kad bih bio znanstvenik, umjetnik, profesor ili kao netko tko je zaposlen u bilo kojoj nevladinoj udruzi ili u tzv. kreativnim zanimanjima i gledao samo vlastiti interes, glasao bih ZA bez razmišljanja.

Sva ostala natlapanja kako ćemo sada moći studirati u Europi, kako ćemo moći otvarati tvrtke u Češkoj i putovati bez ikakvih problema po EU i kupovati nekretnine na Malti su obične gluposti – sve to možemo i sada. Mi i sada možemo napravit pametnu razvojnu politiku, i sada možemo reformirati školstvo i zdravstvo, i sada možemo kreirati progresivnu i humanu politiku prema manjinama, imigrantima, okolišu i bilo čemu drugom. Prema pravilima Europske Unije, sve odluke se ionako moraju donositi na najnižoj mogućoj instanci tako kao što sada moramo sami izorganizirati vlastitu budućnost, morat ćemo to isto napraviti i unutar Unije, ali u okviru ograničenog suvereniteta.

Dakle kad ja pogledam razloge ZA i PROTIV, da budem iskren, PROTIV je možda racionalno bolji izbor za većinu hrvatskih građana. Pristupni ugovor je loš i Hrvatska se ne bi smjela zadovoljit s mrvicama.

Međutim, postoji tu još nešto. Možda to zvuči naivno, ali ideja ujedinjene Europe je još uvijek ideal za koji se valja boriti. Usprkos korupciji, malograđanštini i primitivizmu europskih političara i nepoštenom i neokolonijalnom odnosu velikih europski država prema novim i malim članicama, ideja Europe kao zajednice ravnopravnih građana i naroda koji su odlučili zajednički sagraditi budućnost koja se temelji na njihovim različitostima je još uvijek svijetla civilizacijska točka na kontinentu koji je izazvao toliko zla i sukoba. Današnja Europa ima puno problema, od buđenja neo-nacizma i odnosa prema manjinama, posebno Romima, do nehumanog tretmana imigranata koji samo žele bolji zivot kao i svi mi. Usprkos svemu tome, ideja Europe je nešto za što ja osobno želim glasati. Ne želim biti protiv nečega u što duboko vjerujem samo zato što se mi nismo udostojili izabrati kompetentne i poštene ljude da nas vode kroz pristupne pregovore. Hrvatska je oduvijek bila, a i danas je dio europskog kulturnog i političkog prostora. Ja želim i dalje biti dio tog prostora jer mislim da pametnom politikom i regionalnom suradnjom s onim europskim partnerima koji se, kao i mi, moraju boriti protiv samovolje velikih, mi imamo priliku ne samo izgraditi bolju budućnost za sebe već, nadam se, ponuditi nešto i drugima. Da ja mogu glasati 22. siječnja, ja bih duboko udahnuo i glasao ZA. Hrvatska može osigurati budućnost svojim građanim i unutar i izvan Europske unije – to ovisi o nama samima. Na kraju će nam biti onako kako si sami napravimo, no mislim da će nam biti lakše ako imamo prijatelje s kojima možemo podjeliti i uspjehe i neuspjehe. Ugovor je nepravedan, ali je ipak samo to, slovo na papiru koje se može promjeniti i ispregovarati unutar unije. Ideja Europe je puno više od pristupnog ugovora i nešto za što vrijedi glasati.

The photo is from Vienna, Austria.

On photojournalism

There is a really important debate going on over at duckrabbit’s about conflict photography and the glamorization of war photographers by the media. Duckrabbit being duckrabbit has no need to mince words:

“Isn’t there something really screwed about the fact that the people in the pictures, what’s happening to them in a conflict, now seems to be of significantly less interest then what happens to the person taking the picture?”

I agree and this has been flaring up occasionally over the years. The most recent flareup was probably the interview with Christopher Anderson shortly after the publication of his book Capitolio when he said:

“The death of journalism is bad for society, but we’ll be better off with less photojournalism. I won’t miss the self-important, self-congratulatory, hypocritical part of photojournalism at all. The industry has been a fraud for some time. We created an industry where photography is like big-game hunting. […] We end up with cartoons and concerned photographer myths…”

All true to a large extent and the backlash to both duckrabbit’s and Anderson’s manure disturbing was expected and understandable given that there are people who truly believe in and practice responsible and deeply concerned photojournalism. I recently wrote a comment on David Campbell’s blog arguing that a lot of the blame should be laid at the feet of editors  at the major media who without fail choose the stories that allow them to create celebrities out of their own staff and colleagues over actual, real journalism.

The trend is unmistakable and plays directly into the hands of various power agents who prefer it that way – they often carry guns as David Levi Strauss points out in his essay “Photography and Belief” where he discusses the dramatic change in the conflict coverage during the first Gulf War:

“… the Vietnam-era generals in charge of Desert Storm recognized from the beginning that modern communication technologies make it impossible to wage war in the open. Today, war must be hidden behind the impenetrable propaganda curtain–no images of death and destruction, no fields bloody with carnage, no dismembered corpses; no orphans, or gangrene, or naked napalmed little girls; and no body count. The surprise was how readily, and how completely, the American public acquiesced.”

And there you have it in a nutshell. Give us celebrities and heroes and don’t bother us with the complicated stuff. Glamorization of conflict photographers is a logical extension of that particular story line. It works for the military and the politicians, it works for the public and it sells. The painful irony of the whole thing would be side-splitting funny if it weren’t so deeply sad.

I’ll give the last word to Abbas who addresses some of this at about 5:08. The first part of that interview is here.

Statue of Bishop Gregory in Split. The legend has it that rubbing the statue’s big toe brings good luck. That is probably the only thing the tourists remember anyway.

Croatian word of the day: propaganda propaganda [step enee tze]

Support Island Landscapes exhibit

 

 

Something is afoot…

Public service sector workers are going on strike tomorrow in the UK. The Spaniards have been protesting on the streets since May. Greek unionized workers and youth have been on the street for a month and most of it was not violent. Here is a flickr set from Helen Sotiriadis that offers you a very different view of the Greek protests from what you’ve seen in the media. Even Newfoundlanders are protesting. People in the Middle East, including Egypt, remain adamant in their demands for better and freer life. Small, incremental changes are not enough anymore.

The times may indeed be changing.

Well of Life in Zagreb is and incredible piece of public art by Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović.

Croatian word of the day: narod people

Lesson for mainlanders*

Every mainlander, sooner or later, learns one important lesson: Do NOT mess with the islanders. Oh, the islanders are perfectly happy to have their squabbles that stretch for generations. Those things are a form of entertainment just as much as real disputes. But, if you decide to go against the island, then all those squabbles are forgotten in a blink of an eye and you will be facing a fury you can’t even imagine.

Stephen Harper is about to start learning that lesson. If you wanted to poke Newfoundlanders in the eye, closing a marine search and rescue dispatch centre is an excellent way to do it. Search and rescue in Newfoundland is not just a nice service the government provides, this is personal on a level that most of us who don’t have family members on the water can’t understand. How personal? Here is what one of the speakers at the yesterday’s gathering on the St. John’s waterfront said:

“When you make that call at four o’clock in the morning, you want to call home. When your boat is burning, you want somebody in Newfoundland to pick up that phone.”

The scheduled closure of the centre produced such a strong reaction because somebody in Ottawa who has never paced a hallway waiting for their loved one’s boat to come in before the storm hits has put a price on a Newfoundland life.“I am here because I believe it’s more important to save lives than to save money. I just wish our Prime Minister felt the same,” was another line often repeated yesterday.

I don’t know if the service is going to be compromised if the operation is moved to Halifax. May be it will and may be it won’t. What I do know is that this is much, much more complex and visceral than a mainlander can comprehend. If that center is moved and a person dies, you will be seeing a lot more of those pink-white-and-green flags.

I don’t know how all this is going to pan out, but I suspect it’s going to be a long time before you see a Conservative MP elected in Newfoundland.

*UPDATE: I received an e-mail pointing out that this is not between mainlanders and Newfoundlanders, but between people and the federal government. And that calling somebody a mainlander can be offensive. Fair enough. As a mainlander who is not even from this land, my point is that if you don’t live by the sea and off the sea, you can’t know what that feels like. I don’t pretend I do, but, occasionally, I get a glimpse of it. I should have been more nuanced, but come to think of it now, it’ll be fun to write a post on all this identity stuff…

Croatian word of the day: zastava flag

 

A post for news junkies

A post for news junkies today.

Check out the newspaper map (h/t Coolhunting) – fascinating stuff combining two things I love: maps and newspapers. Some links are a bit out of date, but still cool.

If you’ve ever felt there is not enough good stuff to read on-line, that’s because you never gave a try to two excellent sources of long form journalism. The first one is longform.org, which constantly updates its offerings with some of the best and, sometimes, weirdest stuff out there. The second one is a bit less dynamic, but not less rich in content: The Best Magazine Articles Ever is a wonderful compilation of some ground breaking magazine writing. Check it out.

And for all of you Canadians who happen to be political junkies as well, poliTwitter.ca brings you all of Canada’s political tweets in one place, constantly updated and helpfully colour coded. Pure political crack.

Tilting on Fogo Island, Newfoundland.

Croatian word of the day: narkić junkie [nar ki ch]

CLICK HERE TO CONTRIBUTE TO ISLANDS DOCUMENTARY PROJECT

 

Public servants

Work related post today, mostly because I like the photograph.

Andrew Treusch (middle), associate deputy minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada is discussing the changing role of public servant in Canada while Robert Thompson (right), the Secretary to Cabinet and the Clerk of the Executive Council of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ron Penney (left) the recently retired city manager for the City of St. John’s and an adjunct professor of political science at Memorial University pay close attention.

I don’t often post work related photographs because they mostly consist of talking heads, but today’s setup landed itself nicely to a different kind of a photo.

Croatian word of the day: javni službenik public servant [yavni  slu zh be nik]

CLICK HERE TO CONTRIBUTE TO ISLANDS DOCUMENTARY PROJECT

 

Elections

So, Canadians may find themselves heading to the polling stations this spring. Good. That is as it should be. I am sick and tired of people claiming that somehow elections are a bad thing. Elections are ALWAYS a good thing. People give their lives for the right to vote and here we are complaining that, oh the horror, we need to vote for our government. Get out, inform yourself, and vote for the candidate you think will represent your views the best. And, for heaven’s sake, stop complaining about the fact that you can vote without fear for your life.

Waiting for Change Islands ferry.

Croatian word of the day: glasanje voting [gla sa ny e]

CLICK HERE TO CONTRIBUTE TO ISLANDS DOCUMENTARY PROJECT

Apple iPad, protesting parliament prorogation…

Yes. We did indeed take kids to the demonstrations against the parliament prorogation this weekend. The prorogation was a cowardly, spineless and undemocratic act. I am glad that at least some people felt compelled to come out and tell Stephen Harper that he is people’s employee and that he can’t just give himself a three-month long paid leave of absence just because his job title is prime minister. If he bothered to read the job description, I believe he would find somewhere in there a clause that compels him to answer even those questions he does not like.

In the design and tech news, Apple today revealed iPad. Very cool, but not for me – yet. I want an SD card slot, iPhoto and handwriting recognition. I know Steve Jobs hates stylus, but stylus actually makes sense as an input method on a device of this kind. Keep the virtual keyboard, but give me some options. There is a whole bunch of other technical aspects that are underwhelming, but that’s what generations two, three, four and so on are for.

Croatian word of the day: znak sign

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[Old Blog] Ambassador, Where did all the money come from

David Hutchings (interview) is Canada’s ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina and a Memorial alum. He was speaking to the students sometime in February, encouraging them to consider a career in foreign service.

GEOG-4010
Entry 26 – March 22, 2009
Where did all the money come from?

I just finished listening to a brilliant radio piece on Chicago Public Radio called The Giant Pool of Money. It was an entertaining and very well put together show attempting to figure out how did the US ever got itself in the current financial mess. It’s quite damning actually as is the fabulous (and long) piece in December issue of the Portfolio magazine here. Try as I may, I still do not understand how could half of this be legal even under the relaxed laws that ruled in the states, although places like Germany did not do much better if fabulously well written story on Porche and Volkswagen is any indication. In all this mess, it seems that the only people who are going to receive little or no help are the folks who foolishly believed that buying houses they could not afford is a smart thing to do. The inescapable market forces have struck mercilessly punishing their intemperance. They lost their homes, jobs, retirement savings and their kids’ college funds. The guys running the racket? Well, nothing to it – the government will sort out the mess.

Croatian word of the day:nepravda injustice

CLICK HERE TO CONTRIBUTE TO ISLANDS DOCUMENTARY PROJECT.

[Old Blog] Climate change, Project Watermarks, Kellie Walsh

For some reason, I have not been posting the stuff I have done over the last six months for my work. Here is one of the photos that originally appeared in Memorial University’s alumni magazine Luminus. This is Kellie Walsh, internationally recognized choir conductor during a rehearsal at the Holly Heart Theatre. One of her photos appeared on the blog previously here.

GEOG-4010
Entry 25 – March 20, 2009
Visualizing climate change

As a reporter and now working at the university, I always felt that large part of the problem that we face as a society today is that challenges currently in front of us are of such magnitude that they are difficult to bring down on a more human centric scale. Richard Dawkins calls that scale the Middle World – the one where time and space are defined in human terms not those of quantum theory or geology. The example of Danish consensus councils on technology is one way of engaging citizens in a public debate that matters in what Ulrich Beck unflinchingly calls risk society.

However, what I am also interested in is how do we communicate these issues outside of specialized institutions, either existing ones or the new ones that we are going to set up. The most intriguing attempt to show what climate change actually means is a series of photographs and public displays under Watermarks project. It’s a simple idea and it focuses on one small aspect of climate change – the rising water levels. And that’s probably where a lot of trouble comes from when we discuss complex issues such as climate change in public sphere. Inevitably, the issues are reduced to a much simpler explanation which then becomes the standard argument. Suddenly we find ourselves discussing weather the sea levels will rise 25 or 5 meters instead of the actual global impact of human activities on the planets ability to sustain life as we know it.

Croatian word of the day:promjene changes [pro mee ye ne]

CLICK HERE TO CONTRIBUTE TO ISLANDS DOCUMENTARY PROJECT.