If I were born in the 21st century, I am certain that I would have avoided purchasing most of the 4 000 physical/ paper books that are found in our library. Most, but not all, because I appreciate many books precisely because of their images. While there are technical problems using an e-book readers to view high-definition images, these are ideal tools for reading novels and more general works.
Our physical books are organized using a decimal classification system, first developed by Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626), but expanded upon by Melvil Dewey (1851 – 1931). Some aspects of this topic have been discussed in an earlier weblog post. The issues discussed there will not be repeated, but augmented.
While our starting point for a classification system is Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC). DDC was first published in 1876. The latest printed version, 23, was published in 2011. The online version, WebDewey, is continuously updated. Unfortunately, the DDC system is problematic, much like the personality of Melvil Dewey. This system was originally positively received, and initially almost universally used, especially if the universe is restricted to American public libraries. Its focus is on a masculine, Christian, European-American homophobic world. We have introduced modifications.
First, we use a revised schedule for DDC 200 (Religion), developed by Paul Gerard, which gives a more equal weight to all religions, and provides adequate space for a full treatment of the Bahá’í Faith. This is referred to as the Phoenix schedule, and has been implemented many places, including Cliff Cottage.
Second, our geographical world view is non-standard, with a focus on at least three different geographical areas: Greater Vancouver in Canada, Trøndelag in Norway, and the Bay Area in California. Thus I have developed my own classification system, Geoscheme. The current version, E2, dates from 2016-05-07, and can be accessed below.
While Dewey’s promotion of the metric system can be applauded, other areas of focus were less positively received and less successful, such as his promotion of a spelling reform, resulting in a permanent first name change from Melville, and a temporary last name change to Dui.
At the 2019 American Library Association annual conference, council document #50 presents a resolution on renaming the Melvil Dewey medal to remove Melvil Dewey’s association with the award. It was passed unanimously. Among the reasons cited are: “ … that he did not permit Jewish people, African Americans, or other minorities admittance to the resort owned by Dewey and his wife; … he was censured by the New York State Board of Regents for his refusal to admit Jews to his resort, whereupon he resigned as New York State Librarian; … Dewey made numerous inappropriate physical advances toward women he worked with and wielded professional power over; … during the 1906 ALA [= American Library Association] conference there was a movement to censure Dewey after four women came forward to accuse him of sexual impropriety, and he was ostracized from the organization for decades”.
Other Document Classification Systems
Perhaps the main challenge with library classification systems is their arrangement as hierarchical tree structures. As time progresses, the world of Melvil Dewey becomes less relevant. New categories become increasingly needed as old ones fade into the background. Increasingly, there is co-operation across fields, so that books (and other objects) need to display multiple classifications.
In Europe, the Universal Decimal Classification system dominates public libraries. It was developed by Paul Otlet (1868 – 1944) and Henri La Fontaine (1854 – 1943). They initially created the Répertoire Bibliographique Universel (RBU), starting in 1895. They then wrote to Dewey and received permission to translate his DDC into French. However, instead of translating, they made some radical innovations, such as adapting its enumerative classification approach in which all the subjects are listed and coded, into one that allows synthesis, essentially, the use of compound numbers to represent interrelated subjects. In addition, potential relations between subjects were identified, and symbols assigned to represent them. The result of this work, Manuel du Répertoire bibliographique universel, appeared in 1905. An outline of the UDC is available here.
So far, the important work of Charles Amee Cutter (1837 – 1903) has been ignored, in these weblog posts. Yet, his Cutter Expansive Classification system is important. It uses seven separate schedules, each designed for libraries of different sizes. The first schedule is the most basic. After this, each schedule expands from the previous one. Cutter provided instructions on how a library might expand from one schedule to the next, as it grows.
The Library of Congress Classification (LCC), was developed by Norwegian born librarian J. C. M. Hanson (1864 – 1943) from Cutter’s system, starting in 1897. It replaced the fixed location system developed by Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1846). The major flaw with LCC is its absence of a sound theoretical basis. Classification decisions were driven by practical needs, rather than epistemology: It is focused on books found in one library’s collection, and does not attempt to classify human knowledge of the world.
Our digital documents, including text, image and audio files are stored on a server, where several copies are kept in case of disk failure, along with other copies on external hard drives. These can be transferred to other devices as required, including e-book readers. These documents do not do not have the same need of a classification system, because they can be searched for in different ways. It takes only a few seconds to transfer these documents to other devices, such as laptops, stationary machines or e-book readers.
The Five Laws of Library Science
This weblog post is being published on the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan, (1892-08-12 – 1972-09-27). He was an Indian librarian and mathematician who developed Five Laws of Library Science (1931), and the Colon Classification System (1933).
The five laws are:
Books are for use: This focuses attention on access-related issues, such as library location, loan policies, hours and days of operation, the quality of staffing and even more mundane matters, such as library furniture and temperature control.
Every reader his or her book: libraries serve a wide variety of patrons, they have to acquire literature to fit a wide variety of needs. Everyone is different and each person has different tastes regarding the books they choose.
Every book its reader: All books have a place in a library, even if only a small demographic chooses to read them.
Save the time of the reader: All patrons should be able to easily locate the materials they desire quickly and efficiently.
A library is a growing organism: a library is a dynamic institution. Books, methods and the physical space needs to be updated over time.
There have been numerous updates and modifications of these laws over time. In 2004, librarian Alireza Noruzi emphasized the web. In 2008, librarian Carol Simpson referred to media, more generally. In 2015, B. Shadrach referred to knowledge. In 2016, Achala Munigal focused on social media.
Colon Classification System
A faceted classification uses semantic categories, either general or subject-specific, that are combined to create the full classification entry.
In the Colon Classification system, originally presented in 1933, a book is assigned a set of values from each independent facet, using punctuation marks (most notably colons) and symbols between the facets to connect them.
The system is organized into 42 classes. In the 6th edition (2006), some examples are: Class D = Engineering, J = Agriculture, N = Fine Arts, U = Geography and X = Economics. Each class is has its own specific characteristics, facets. There are five fundamental categories that can be used to express the facets of a subject:
Personality is the most specific or focal subject.
Matter is the substance, properties or materials of the subject.
Energy includes the processes, operations and activities.
Space relates to the geographic location of the subject.
Time refers to the dates or seasons of the subject.
As e-reading increases, and works rely more on digital storage, than physical storage, it becomes easier to use tags, rather than numbers, to classify books. With tags, one is no longer confined to the singularity of one classification system. Tags can be a mishmash of Dewey, Cutter, LCC, Colon or other features. There is no need to physically locate a book in order to read it. At Cliff Cottage, relatively fewer books are located on physical shelves in our library, while an increased number of books are found on virtual shelves on our server. There is no limit on the number of household residents, who can access the same book simultaneously!
A book can be found, and loaded onto an e-reader almost instantaneously. The current difficulty with such a system, is being in agreement as to which tags are to be used.
Note: This weblog post has been in development for over two years. One text (A) mostly about Ranganathan, was originally written 2020-07-08; a second (B), about library classification systems more generally, on 2020-11-19; a third (C) mainly about classification as it applies to physical inventories, like screws, buttons, flour and yarn, was started on 2021-12-23. These were amalgamated on 2022-02-25 and further modified on 2022-08-31 . This text didn’t work properly. On 2022-09-20, these were separated into two separate documents, essentially (A & B) and (C). The text as it appears here consists of the first two texts.
bell hooks (no capitals, please) was born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, on 1952-09-25, or 70 years before the publication of this weblog post. Her pen name is taken from her maternal great-grandmother who, according to Heather Williams “was known for her snappy and bold tongue, which [bell hooks/ Gloria Jean Watkins] greatly admired”. Williams further informs us that the name was put in lowercase letters “to distinguish [herself from] her great-grandmother.” It also signified that it was more important to focus on her works, not her personality, expressed as the “substance of books, not who I am.”
Perhaps the most import insight bell hooks brings is that communication and literacy, defined as the ability to read, write and think critically, are necessary for the feminist movement because without them people may not recognize gender inequalities.
If there is a single work that would help people understand bell hooks, it is Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism (1981). The title is not original. It was used by Sojouner Truth (1797 – 1883), as the publication title of an untitled speech given at a Woman’s convention in 1851 at Akron, Ohio. The fact that there is 130 years between these publications suggests that the status of Black women has not improved noticeably in that time.
Racism and sexism have doubly impacted the lives of Black women, so that they have the lowest status and worst conditions of any group in American society. Southern segregationists promoted a stereotype of Black female promiscuity and immorality. According to hooks, white female reformers were more concerned with white morality than the living conditions of Black Americans.
White society stereotyped white women as pure/ goddess/ virginal, in contrast to the stereotypical Black women depicted as seductive whores. This, in turn, justified the rape of Black women by white men. hooks views Black nationalism as patriarchal and misogynist.
The then-current feminist movement (from the 1970s), is seen as a (largely) white middle and upper class movement, unsympathetic to the needs of poor/ non-white women. This feminism actually reinforces existing patterns of sexism/ racism/ classism.
There are two other problematic starts, and legacies affecting Black women. The Nation of Islam dates from 1930. The Nation was started by Wallace Fard Muhammad (c. 1877 – c. 1934) in Detroit. After Muhammad’s disappearance, leadership was taken over by Elijah Muhammad (1897 – 1975), who expanded it to include schools/ banks/ restaurants/ stores/ truck and air based transportation systems/ publishing in 46 American cities. It also owned about 80 square kilometers of farmland in 1970. While all of these may be viewed positively, it was also a patriarchal organization that promoted gendered roles, and denied women leadership opportunities.
The Black Panther Party was started in the mid 1960s, by Huey P. Newton’s (1942 – 1989) and Bobby Seales (1936- ). They initially developed a 10-point manifesto. The Black Panther Party founded over 60 community support programs (renamed survival programs in 1971) including food banks, medical clinics, sickle cell anemia tests, prison busing for families of inmates, legal advice seminars, clothing banks, housing cooperatives, and their own ambulance service. The most famous of these programs was the Free Breakfast for Children program which fed thousands of impoverished children daily during the early 1970s. Newton also co-founded the Black Panther newspaper service, which became one of America’s most widely distributed African-American newspapers.
To begin with, not all was well with the Black Panther Party. It too advocated violence, black masculinity and traditional gender roles. Thus, it was not a vehicle for improving the status of Black women. It was patriarchal and misogynist. However, things started to improve, especially from 1968, when women constituted two-thirds of the party.
In Black Looks: Race and Representation (1992) hook takes an article by Audre Lorde’s (1934 – 1992) about black womanhood as a structure, then discusses how black women are imprisoned in a stereotype of violence, that continues on through the generations. She believes that the narrative can be changed, but that it is hard. Black women are encouraged to discuss Black literature. Yet, this does not come with any guarantees of self-actualization. In particular, she refers to Celie, a character in Alice Walker’s (1944 – ) The Color Purple (1982), where she escapes an abusive situation, only to return to a similar situation at the end of the novel. What these fiction writers are doing, is breaking “new ground in that it clearly names the ways structures of domination, racism, sexism, and class exploitation, oppress and make it practically impossible for black women to survive if they do not engage in meaningful resistance on some level.” (p. 50) Angela Davis (1944 – ) and Shirley Chisholm (1924 – 2005) are presented as examples of Black women breaking the trend and resisting the cycles. Women of color need to engage in feminism and in the “decolonizing of our minds” in order to center “social change that will address the diversity of our experiences and our needs.” (p. 60)
Not being Black, female or queer pas gay, it is not my place to pass judgement on the previous two works. At some level there is an intellectual understanding, but no lived experience. This is not the case with the third, and last, book that I would like to discuss: belonging: a culture of place (2009). hooks begins chapter 2, Kentucky is My Fate, with: “If one has chosen to live mindfully, then choosing a place to die is as vital as choosing where and how to live. Choosing to return to the land and landscape of my childhood, the world of my Kentucky upbringing, I am comforted by the knowledge that I could die here.” This was her fate, in 2021.
She regards her upbringing in rural Kentucky, as an exposure to anarchy, where people are enabled to live a relatively free life, despite racial separatism, white exploitation and black oppression. She contrasts this with more general urban experiences, where rules were made, imposed and enforced by unknown others, where “black folks were forced to live within boundaries in the city, ones that were not formally demarcated, but boundaries marked by white supremacist violence against black people if lines were crossed. Our segregated black neighborhoods were sectioned off, made separate. At times they abutted the homes of poor and destitute white folks. Neither of these groups lived near the real white power and privilege governing all our lives.”
In her last chapter, 10: Earthbound: On Solid Ground, hooks discusses the concept of interbeing, “That sense of interbeing was once intimately understood by black folks in the agrarian South. Nowadays it is only those who maintain our bonds to the land, to nature, who keep our vows of living in harmony with the environment, who draw spiritual strength from nature. Reveling in nature’s bounty and beauty has been one of the ways enlightened poor people in small towns all around our nations stay in touch with their essential goodness even as forces of evil, in the form of corrupt capitalism and hedonistic consumerism, work daily to strip them of their ties with nature…. To look upon a tree, or a hilly waterfall, that has stood the test of time can renew the spirit. To watch plants rise from the earth with no special tending reawakens our sense of awe and wonder.”
While I am happy that bell hooks was able to return to Kentucky, it is not always possible for people to return to their own place. For most of my adult life, my home town, New Westminster, on the banks of Sto:lo, the Fraser River, has been economically inaccessible. Thus, I have had to create my own substitute, Cliff Cottage, at Vangshylla, in rural Inderøy, Trøndelag, Norway. This has not happened without my own internal protests! Despite these, it is a place that is suitable for my anarchist self. Rural landscapes make better use of their internal resources, and are closer to sustainable. Prices for housing are lower, so people can work less. The benefits of an rural lifestyle are real.
Urban landscapes, unfortunately, have become dependent on the massive import of external resources, for their survival. They are no longer sustainable. People living there, feel a need to work excessively just to pay for the basics of housing. The benefits of an urban lifestyle are largely a mirage. At one point I read that in 2020 New Westminster experienced the worst air quality in the world due to the combined effects of the 2020 Western American wildfires and a fire at the old pier at the quay.
This week, I was sent two listings for houses for sale in Kerrisdale, a residential area in Vancouver, British Columbia, where Trish, my wife, grew up. The prices for these modest houses on smallish lots were between two and three million dollars, Canadian. I would discourage everyone, from supporting this form of übercapitalism. Buying such a house is not in the spirit of bell hooks. It is hard to be an anarchist, making monthly mortgage payments! It is hard to be an anarchist, wasting income on unnecessary expenditures.
After more than 1.4 billion seconds/ 23 million minutes/ 380 000 hours/ 16 000 days/ 2 300 weeks/ 530 months/ 44 years of marriage, couples may find that those microseconds of conversational lulls, become more frequent. Trish and I have decided to do something about it. We are now reading the same books found in the A Very Short Introduction series, published by Oxford University Press.
Wikipedia describes the books in the series as: concise introductions to particular subjects, intended for a general audience but written by experts. Most are under 200 pages long. While authors may present personal viewpoints, the books are meant to be “balanced and complete” as well as thought provoking.
The series began in 1995, and over 700 titles have been published. Many works, including the first book published in the series # 001, Classics, by Mary Beard (1955 – ) and John Henderson (1948 – ), have not been revised. In contrast #086 Globalization, by Manfred Steger (1961 – ), is now in its 5th edition.
These are ebooks read on a Kobo reader. The first book we read together was #215 Deserts, by Nick Middleton (1960 – ). It was published in 2009, but showed no evidence of being exceptionally out of date. Currently, we are reading #444 Mountains by Martin F. Price (1957 – ), published in 2015 and #175 Documentary film by Patricia Aufderheide published in 2008. That is, Trish has finished reading Mountains, while Brock has just started it; Brock has finished reading Documumentary film, while Trish has just started it.
We use the list of titles found in the Wikipedia article, to find titles of mutual interest.
We do not finish all books started. The first failed reading was #248 Keynes, by Robert Skidelsky (1939 – ). It was about British economist John Maynard Keynes (1883–1946), but failed to hold our attention.
A Short Introduction to Everything, published in 2003, has a cover indicating that it is free. This does not appear to be the case. At Amazon, an ebook version is unavailable. A paperback version costs US$ 30.10 or more new/ US$ 3.65 or more used. In both cases, delivery charges also apply. Harish P, writing about the book on Goodreads, gives the book two stars and comments: ‘Everything’ is misleading. I was thinking that the book could be something like ‘A Short History About Everything’ by Bill Bryson. That’s not the case to be. ‘Everything’ here refers to the titles in the Very short Introduction series. The book is intended as a primer/curtain-raiser of the titles that constitute the series. The book is divided into 7 themes aka chapter, each concerning a certain aspect of life or Universe, at large. The titles relevant to the theme are featured with some interesting summary. Only complaint-why am I charged for the book, when it is a little more than a marketing material of Oxford University Press. Luckily, I borrowed it from a friend.
Today, it is 350 years since Isaac Newton (1643 – 1727) sent the world’s first journal article to Henry Oldenbourg (1615-1677), secretary of the Royal Society of London, on 1672-02-06. It was about telescopes, and optics more generally. While authorship is important, Oldenbourg is historically important for introducing the concept of peer review to scientific writing.
Newton writes, “To perform my late promise to you, I shall without further ceremony acquaint you, that in the beginning of the Year 1666 (at which time I applyed my self to the grinding of Optick glasses of other figures than Spherical,) I procured me a Triangular glass-Prisme, to try therewith the celebrated Phaenomena of Colours. And in order thereto having darkened my chamber, and made a small hole in my window-shuts [shutters], to let in a convenient quantity of the Suns light, I placed my Prisme at his entrance, that it might be thereby refracted to the opposite wall. It was at first a very pleasing divertisement [diversion], to view the vivid and intense colours produced thereby; but after a while applying my self to consider them more circumspectly, I became surprised to see them in an oblong form; which, according to the received laws of Refraction, I expected should have been circular. They were terminated at the sides with streight [straight] lines, but at the ends, the decay of light was so gradual, that it was difficult to determine justly, what was their figure; yet they seemed semicircular.”
Of course, if one looks hard enough one can always find predecessors to almost everything. Thus, most historians working in the area add the adjective, modern, to the noun, review. In this way they can forget about the more original contribution made by Adab aț-Ṭabīb, = Morals of the physician, where modern readers could use practical ethics to replace morals, in the title. It was a historical Arabic book written by Al-Ruhawi, a 9th-century (probably) Nestorian physician who regarded physicians as guardians of souls and bodies. The twenty chapters of the work encompassed various medical topics, influenced by the works of Hippocrates and Galen.
This weblog post is to commemorate my 400th weblog post. It follows a previous commemoration, posted on .
When a new weblog post is published, 42 notifications are sent out (including one to myself). Of these, 18 are to women, and 24 to men. 26 go to people living in Norway (including 11 in Inderøy), 9 to people in Canada, and 7 to people in USA. Slightly more than half of the people, 22, are retired. I am biologically related to 8 people, and married to yet another. Of my adoptive family, all have declined an invitation to receive notifications. I have known one person for about 68 years, and another for less than a year. I have a relationship with each and every one. On average, 33 people read each post. I do not know who these people are, and I have no intention of finding out.
When I approached retirement, and started writing this weblog more seriously, in 2016, I stated that if readership exceeded 100 people, it was an indication that I was doing something wrong. This is still my belief. However, I have no objections to increasing readership to about that level, on the condition that I know the people or are related to them, or are recommended by people in these two groups.
Spam is not a major problem, but sometimes people I don’t know want to add inappropriate content. The post that has attracted the most spam is one about a Kaiyun Pickman, a Chinese pickup. This week, for example, someone wanted to add an advertisement there for an online casino. Even though I don’t know Paul MF Broadway, I allowed his comment because it was relevant. Relevance is the only criteria for having a comment accepted.
Veritas vos liberabit = The truth will set you free, is the motto of Johns Hopkins University. It is appealing, especially at a time when many politicians don’t seem capable of differentiating truth from lies. It is also Biblical, appearing in John 8:32. Yet, in 2017 W. Bradford Littlejohn described it as both the peril and promise of Christian liberty. Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported over 270 million cases, and over 5 million deaths, in the world, as publication of this weblog post approached. Currently, the omicron variant is dominating the press, if not the pandemic.
I am not impressed with former Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg who, in a press conference 2021-09-24, announced that people in Norway could return to their normal way of life. This was a lie, but I am uncertain if Solberg is too dense to understand this elementary fact, or if she was wishing ill will on the people of Norway because of her election defeat. There could even be other reasons. In any case, the result was that many people behaved as if life had returned to normal. Shaking hands and not maintaining an adequate social distance are examples of clear violations of acceptable pandemic behaviour. Now, the intensive care wards of hospitals in Norway are filled beyond their capacity with Corona-19 cases. In addition, since everyone knows that government budgets are written in stone, Norwegian hospitals will have to cut back on their services in 2022, because of cost overruns this year. Nurses and other hospital staff are also suffering burnout. Workers, who have the opportunity, are once again required to work from home. Masks are required in stores. Most public activities have been cancelled.
There is increased need for cooperation in many fields related to epidemiology, including the production and distribution of vaccines. Disease seems an inappropriate place for free enterprise/ capitalism, especially during a pandemic where none can be free of Covid-19, until everyone in the world able to be vaccinated is vaccinated. It may be possible to build a bubble, but even New Zealand has experienced that these can pop easily.
Jennifer B. Nuzzo, in a TED talk, compared Covid-19 with the 1904 Baltimore fire caused by a cigarette that destroyed 1 500 buildings/ 2 500 businesses/ 80 blocks. Despite aid from firefighters in neighbouring cities, they couldn’t hook up their hoses because in 1904 there were over 600 variations of hose couplings. This failure resulted in major changes: Data was used to make buildings safer and to improve fire responses; ordinances were passed that ultimately became building codes resulting in fire resistant buildings; fire alarms were installed that could detect and pinpoint fires in buildings; fire drills became standard practice; national standards for firefighting equipment were developed so fire crews had interoperable equipment. In the same way, lessons from Covid-19 will change the world forever. There will be no return to the previous normal.
The world is facing a human created climate crisis. On 2021-08-09, The sixth Comprehensive Assessment of Climate Science, a 3949 page report, was published. This report raises important questions, some of which are left to the interested reader to answer. Is libertarian capitalism better at solving social problems than, for example, democratic socialism? Why/ why not? What should be done to improve the situation for the majority of people given that there is increasing inequality in the world? What are the benefits of redistributing wealth and income from the many poor into the tax havens of a wealthy small minority? Are the large number of jobs created meaningful for the people employed? Why/ why not?
Americans spend about 17 % of their GDP on health care, in contrast to 10 % in Europe. That is more than 50 % difference. In USA it is the specifics of health insurance that determine benefits, in Europe there are strict rules that apply to everyone. Which system is better? Why? Is the increased cost of health care in USA beneficial or detrimental?
Should health care be provided as a government service, or should it be open to competition? Why? Private donors collectively make large donations to medical research. Why are the medical charities unable to patent treatments since they are financing so much of the research? Why are drug companies able to patent treatments, and profit from this situation? If this just? What alternatives are available to ensure that everyone receives the health care they need? What should be done to change the current situation?
Bayer owned Monsanto produces seeds that are genetically engineered to grow glyphosate tolerant plants, commonly referred to as Roundup Ready crops. While most plants die when exposed to glyphosate, genetically modified plants experience no ill effects. The genes contained in these seeds are patented and a source of income for Monsanto/ Bayer. Should these genetically modified plants be permitted? Why/ why not? There are a number of conflicting claims related to toxicity and carcinogenicity, especially, that give rise to doubt about the suitability of glyphosates and patented seeds. Monsanto has been found guilty of false advertising, and there are claims that some test results have been falsified.
While I am reluctant to encourage Roundup Ready crops, there are some genetically modified crops that I do support, with golden rice being the best example. Wikipedia tells us, golden rice is a variety of rice (Oryza sativa) produced through genetic engineering to biosynthesize beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, in the edible parts of rice. It is intended to produce a fortified food to be grown and consumed in areas with a shortage of dietary vitamin A, a deficiency which each year is estimated to kill 670 000 children under the age of 5 and cause an additional 500 000 cases of irreversible childhood blindness. Rice is a staple food crop for over half of the world’s population, making up 30–72% of the energy intake for people in Asian countries, making it an excellent crop for targeting vitamin deficiencies.
Of course, some crops (and probably some weeds) take it upon themselves to become Roundup Ready, through genetic modification. The challenge with both of these genetically modified products is that they both involve ethical decisions. Should genetically modified products be available? If yes, then in what form? Why? Why not?
This section on the State of the World was initially written 2020-01-26 at 20:45. It was modified for publication, starting on 2021-08-10 at 10:00.
The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference = 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Glasgow, Scotland, between 2021-10-31 and 2021-11-12. It is also the third meeting of the parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA3). In 1804, it was estimated that the world population finally reached 1 billion people. It reached 2 billion in 1927, and 3 billion in 1960. On 2012-03-12, the world population reached 7 billion. By 2021-10-17, 7.9 billion milestone was reached, heading to 8 billion in 2023. This growth is unsustainable.
In particular, I am concerned that the wealthier nations have reneged on their promise to provide $100 billion, that they promised during the Copenhagen climate change conference in 2009, to help developing nations strengthen their resilience to climate change. Thus, I am in full agreement with Tasneem Essop (? – ), a South African who is the executive director of Climate Action Network, that the third proposed final text is a clear betrayal of the world by rich nations.
I am also in agreement with Saleemul Huq (1952 – ), a Bangladeshi, who is director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development, and a senior associate of the International Institute for Environment & Development, that the world is facing two climate change problems: the old one of preventing catastrophic impacts for everyone if we go above 1.5 C and a new one of dealing with the loss and damage already happening due to increase of 1.1 C!
On Saturday, 2021-11-13, Extinction Rebellion protesters, with a piper leading a procession through the gravestones of Glasgow’s Necropolis, then lay in front of tombs declaring Cop26 and all the summits prior to it as a failure. Karen, from the Isle of Barra, said: “We are here grieving for a planet that has been sacrificed by the failure and stupidity of Cop26. The bare minimum needed from Cop26 were commitments to leaving oil in the ground and an immediate halt to fossil fuel funding. Anything less than that is idiocy. We know exactly what we need to do and we’re not doing it.”
Living in the past
Stellantis is a multinational automotive manufacturing corporation formed in 2021 merging Italian-American Fiat Chrysler with French PSA Group. The company is headquartered in Amsterdam. Currently, it is the sixth-largest automaker worldwide. Despite this, CEO Carlos Tavares is unhappy. He doesn’t like making electric vehicles, and claims that these have been imposed on his company, and are unprofitable.
This is the challenge of being a laggard, hoping electrification won’t happen. Now that it is inevitable, he complains that automotive industry electrification brings 50 percent additional costs against a conventional ICE vehicle. He states that these additional costs cannot be passed onto the final consumer, because most of the middle class will not unable to pay that price.
My reply to Stellantis, is to encourage them to shut down their entire automotive manufacturing activities. Let the Chinese, Vietnamese and other manufacturers take over. Despite the rhetoric, Stellantis has said that it is investing €30 billion through 2025 to build new EV platforms to support a series of new electric vehicles across its brands.
Profitability is not an industry problem. Other automakers have been able to make reliable and profitable electric vehicles. There are cost issues because of inflation and global supply chain problems. However, there are also benefits. Battery costs are now (2021) $132/ kWh. In 2016, five years ago, they cost $350/ kWh.
The Vinfast VFe35 is a 5 seater, all wheel drive SUV made in Vietnam. It provides a 300 kW motor with 640 Nm of torque, and a 90 kWh battery, for a WLTP range of 500 km. It is 4 750 mm long, with a 2 950 mm wheelbase. In comparison, a standard Tesla Model Y offers a 150 kW motor with 350 Nm of torque, and a 50 kWh battery, for a WLTP range of 390 km. It has the same length (4 750 mm) but has a slightly longer wheelbase at 2 981 mm. Both vehicles are being provided with over-the-air updates.
Living in the Present
Ecuador has enshrined the rights of nature in its rewritten 2008 constitution. The Guardian newspaper reports that the Ecuador constitutional court decided 2021-12-01 that mining permits issued in Los Cedros, a protected area in north-west Ecuador, would harm the biodiversity of the forest, which is home to spectacled bears, endangered frogs, dozens of rare orchid species and the brown-headed spider monkey, one of the world’s rarest primates. Enami EP, Ecuador’s national mining company, held rights for mining concessions that had been granted in two-thirds of the reserve. The decision means that mining concessions, environmental and water permits in the forest must be cancelled, not just for Enami, but throughout Ecuador.
Some regard the Rights of Nature as important as Thomas Paine’s (1737 NS – 1809) Rights of Man (1791/ 1792), a key text in the American Revolution that defends the French Revolution (1789 – 1799) against Edmund Burke’s (1729 NS – 1797) attack in Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790). One of Paine’s main arguments was that human rights originate in nature, and cannot be granted politically, because that would implies that they are revocable, in essence, that they are only privileges.
Rights of Man proposed many practical reforms. It was directed mainly at the British government at the time, but has application today: a written constitution composed by a national assembly; the elimination of aristocratic titles, because democracy is incompatible with primogeniture; a national budget without allotted military and war expenses; lower taxes and subsidised education for the poor; and, progressive income tax to prevent a re-emergence of a hereditary aristocracy.
Mica Peck (? – ), an ecologist and senior lecturer in biology at the University of Sussex, apparently of Finnish ancestry, but born in Ecuador, comments: “It is important for the world to reflect on the limits of nature and to seriously question the effectiveness of current conservation policies and actions. Policy frameworks that place humans in context as a part of nature, integrated into a system that balances intrinsic rights between legitimate subjects of the law, rather than placing humans as above, or apart from, nature, will be a necessary part of addressing the serious environmental issues that our planet is facing. This ruling is as important to nature as Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man were to our own species.”
My hope is that other countries will enact similar ecological provisions in their own constitutions.
With my eyes slowly failing, I intend to concentrate more on audio than video, but using computers as visual assistive/ enlargement devices where necessary. Building construction is another of my interests, but will stop when our residence since 1989-03-01 becomes suitable for a couple of old people to live in. Hopefully, by the time I am dead and gone, one or more of my children will decide that they too want to live in a house suitable for old people, but will fix it up to suit their own particular needs. My only request is that they spare the lives of some of my favourite trees.
Recently, I came across advice on how to prioritize activities. The first step was to make a ranked list of the top 25 categories of activities one would like to engage in. The second step was to note activities six to twenty five, and to develop a strategy to avoid them. That is because these activities are so seductive, that they will take time away from the top five activities.
Compiling this list has taken some months already, but I have managed to put two items on it: writing and electronics. Then I took exception to the second item. Electronics is probably the wrong term to use, it is too narrow. Mechatronics covers it better.
Somehow two Wyze smartwatches, have materialized in our house. These are a 44 model, for Trish, and a 47 model, for myself. These arrived without incurring any costs. This miracle occurred through the natural process of producing and raising a child, who ended up paying for these two watches and giving them to us. Thank you, Shelagh.
I am not exactly sure that they are going to work, as desired. Neither of us have worn watches for at least twenty years. However, we both come equipped with unused watch pockets on our respective jeans and chinos. Thus, the intention was to fill these pockets with a watch, that could be taken out to undertake common tasks, as needed. The first task is that a digital watch can always show the exact time, to within a few milliseconds. I especially wanted to have the time displayed with large digits, in a bright colour that contrasts with a dark background. This eliminates the need to have clocks located in rooms. The watch can also act as a timer that follows the person who needs it, rather than being located at the device (such as a stove top) being timed.
Despite their relatively small size, a HHD is sometimes too large to be carried about continuously. Personally, I am forever taking my HHD out of my pocket, and laying it on a desk or workbench. A smartwatch is considerably smaller, and can stay on a wrist or in a watch pocket. Thus, it can be much more effective at helping people remember events by sending notifications (accompanied by vibrations in advance of an activity) that are actually received by the user.
Some digital watch apps can be very useful. NightWare is a digital therapeutic device that currently fitted to an Apple Watch to interrupt post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related nightmares, by measuring heart rates and body movements. Other people may have other sleep disturbances that could benefit from similar interruptions to their sleep. This would require that the watch be worn!
Personal Data Assistant
In the 1990s, I considered buying a Psion 3 personal digital assistant (PDA). Charles Stross (1964 – ) regards the Psion 3 as an unsurpassed PDA because of its long battery life (20 to 35 hours) with 2 AA batteries, its stable and versatile software and its durable hardware. Others describe over twenty years of daily use with models such as the Psion 3mx. While Psion is English, the company had a major Canadian presence, with offices/ operations in Mississauga, Ontario. It was often compared with an American made Palm.
One of the mechatronics projects I am considering working on is a revitalized Psion, which would not be a recreation of a 1999 Psion 5mx Pro, but an extension of it, based on a Raspberry Pi Compute Module (CM), or other microprocessor, and using other 21st century components/ processes. What I miss on a HHD/ smartphone is a keyboard. I also prefer working in a landscape (in contrast to portrait) format. Thus, an updated Psion would have its case and keyboard recreated with a 3D printer. Originally, the EPOC/ Symbian operating system (OS) was used with applications for word processing, spreadsheets, databases, email, contact and diary management. The Open Psion Language (OPL) was available for software development. OpenPsion, formerly PsiLinux, is an open source project that attempts to provide a more modern OS for the Psion. The ultimate success of the project would to have the device actually function as a HHD, with phone capabilities.
As before, I continue to encourage people to write weblogs, rather than to use exploitive social media. In 2018, I quoted Bill Blunden in a weblog post about the challenges of social media, titled Social Media Revisited. The Guardian recently published an article that explains how social media, and Facebook in particular, is exploiting people. Restrict social media to friends and family, and perhaps a few others you don’t know that well, to keep it honest. Write about the topics that interest you that others might be interested in.
Jacinda Santora, 2021-08-27, made a list of 103 social media sites. Here, people may find one or more that suit their personalities. While some sites are huge, others like Goodreads or Pinterest are just large. Some people prefer one or more of the Reddit flavours, because of their own special interests. Some days, I even visit Ello.
The two social media platforms I do encourage are Diaspora and Mastodon. Only the former is on Santora’s list. Diaspora is a nonprofit, user-owned, distributed social media platform with independent nodes/ pods interoperating as a network. Mastodon is a self-hosted social networking service, with microblogging features, similar to Twitter. I have (largely unused) accounts at both. For further details, Wikipedia has articles on Diaspora and Mastodon.
Former president, Donald Trump, seems to be a fan of Mastodon. To avoid a lawsuit, his social media site, truth.social is acknowledging that the computer code powering the platform comes from Mastodon. He writes: “Our goal is to support the open source community no matter what your political beliefs are. That’s why the first place we go to find amazing software is the community and not ‘Big Tech’”. The Open Source section appeared 2021-11-12, two weeks after Mastodon threatened to sue Trump’s platform for violating its open-source license, that allows anyone to use it freely, but on the condition that the code and any ensuing modifications be made publicly available, allowing the entire Mastodon community to benefit.
I am disinclined to use a hand-held device (HHD) = smart phone (most often), for notes. It is not merely that I prefer a keyboard to a touchscreen, it is their lack of a suitable (read: fast) drawing tool that is most irritating. In addition, I find the lack of a visible file system annoying. During my working life, I used to carry a planner with me, with a page for each working day, plus a page for the weekend, so that each week occupied three sheets. While both calendar and note apps are found on my HHD, I seldom used either. There is too little to do that requires me to make a note of times and dates, so they either don’t get written down, or – if they do – the calendar isn’t consulted when needed. This means that I sometimes forget about (zoom) meetings that I want to attend. Around the house and when visiting building supply shops I carry a yellow A5 hardcover project book with 240 grid/ squared pages, with 4mm squares, that I do use. Here, I write notes with a V-ball pen with blue liquid ink, emerging from a 0.5 mm tip. The use of a pen is deliberate, so that any changes will be clearly visible.
Earlier this year, lacking pen and/ or notebook, I started taking notes on my hand-held device (HHD), using an app labelled Notes. Some days later, I was using Nextcloud, a server-client program on my desktop machine, and came across these same notes. They had been automatically copied from the HHD to the server, and were available to all of my other devices. Because of its built in privacy and security features, these were not available to anyone else using Nextcloud, although they could be sent to others using Warpinator (for other users of the server) or Signal (to a somewhat wider audience). Then again, they could be added to an email to allow contact with anyone.
In this very undramatic fashion, I had accidentally found a solution that had troubled me for years. My advice here is simple. People should acquire a server, even if it is just a minimal solution involving an inexpensive, single board computer such as a Raspberry Pi, and some form of storage. Then they should install Nextcloud, or some other server-client software, to run that server, as well as on all of their other devices.
For those wanting a more detailed history of my route to this discovery, this weblog post will end with its story. It is not for everyone, especially those with demanding children or other time constraints.
My outpouring of words in this weblog probably reflects an inability to keep a diary or a calendar, plus a dopamine addiction. On 2019-09-29 I decided to do something about this and started an experiment. It started because I wished that I had some form of a register so that I could look up what I had done with some missing bookcase hardware. Yes, I am aware that wiser people tape or in other ways affix hardware to the uprights, or at least shelving, so that the screws and other bits don’t wander off to party at more exciting locations in the universe. This attachment didn’t happen.
My significant other keeps many diaries, with names like garden, knitting, sewing and general. I’m not sure that such an arrangement would help me. While I’ve never actually read these books, I’ve had parts of them read to me – and they seems to deal mainly with weather and gardening events, perhaps even a record of visits or meals, for all I know. What I can’t imagine is any reference to screws, let alone one that details where a particular set of screws were stored.
The problem with diaries is their chronological nature. They are traditionally written in books made of paper. This might be useful for tracking some events, but not for most things. What the world needs is a digital diary, with what used to be called hyperlinks.
Unknown to me, but not unexpectedly, Digital Diary turns out to be a commercial Microsoft product, when I searched using these terms. I changed my search terms, adding open source, which brought me to SourceForge, which listed 26 open source search results. Twenty-five programs listed that they had between 0 and 3 downloads this week, with many of these programs claiming they were last updated in 2013.
Lifeograph was the exception with 53 downloads this week. It was recently updated (2019-09-18) and claimed: to be a private digital diary, for taking personal notes on life; to have all essential functionality expected in a diary program and strives to have a clean and streamlined user interface.
A more general search resulted in finding RedNotebook, described on SourceForge as open source time tracking software. It had 121 downloads that week, and was updated 2019-04-07. Features include: Text formating with bold, italic or underlining; tag and search entries; Insert images, files and links to websites; Links and email addresses are recognized automatically; Spell checking; Search-as-you-type; Automatic saving; Backup to zip archive;Word clouds with most common words and tags; Templates; Export to plain text, HTML or Latex; Content is future-proof: data is stored in plain text files; Translated into more than 30 languages.
The challenge with both of these products was their inability to update content on multiple machines automatically. As a user of three different machines, I was left with three incompatible versions of notes, unless I used excessive efforts to merge them.
Fast forward to 2019-10-25 and I downloaded and installed a third program, Simplenote, from Automatikk, the company that makes WordPress. Its main advantage, is that it allows one to have the same content on different machines. That is fine, but I am reluctant to let Automatikk store my data on its cloud. Since this was a test, I installed it on my VivoMini desktop machine, my VivoBook laptop both running Linux Mint, and my Xiamio Pocophone F1 hand-held device (HHD) running Android.
On 2020-11-23, more than a year later, I ended my experiment with Lifeograph, RedNotebook and Simplenote, and wrote this summary, timestamped at 18:47. There wasn’t much data collected, but my intuition allowed me to declare Simplenote as the winner. Yet still, I was unhappy, and the winning program was never used.
Somewhere, sometime I read that pandemics release creative energy. After two years of Covid-19, I am not sure. However, it sounds good. One form of creativity is inventing new words, or using old words to denote new things. Recently, it has been claimed that there has been an explosion in new word invention and usage.
The words listed here relate to my personal (re)discovery of them. Other people may have completely different perceptions of what is a new word, or a new usage of an old word.
January – Yoke
In Tesla news, for only $140 000 (Lets just call it NOK 1 500 000) one can get an updated version of Tesla Model S (as in S3XY) Plaid. The basic design of the Model S has been unchanged since 2012, although it has been updated before. Most of the discussion about this current update has been about the steering wheel, although not everyone wants to use that term. Tesla uses the term yoke. There are no stalks, either, meaning the turn signals, lights and other typical features are now controlled by touch buttons on the yoke.
February – Side-hustle
Yes, it is normally written as a phrase, but I’ve added a hyphen to transform side-hustle into a word. Elaine Pofeldt, writing in CNBC, has provided The ultimate side hustle guide for 2021. Citing a State of Independence report from BMO Partners, she claims that, “56% of Americans said they’d be more secure working for themselves than in a traditional job in 2020, up from 32% in 2011.”
A side hustle or side job or side gig is a job that a person takes in addition to their primary job in order to supplement their income. In my youth this was often referred to as moonlighting. This contrasts with a person’s day job. Some dictionaries give a much more sinister definition of moonlighting going back to 19th-century Ireland, where people murdered or maimed cattle, during the night, to protest against the oppressive land-tenure system.
March – Fungible
Mike Winkelmann (1981 – ) is responsible for bringing everyone’s attention to fungible vs non-fungible tokens, often just abbreviated without explanation as NFT. If it were not for his alter-ego, Beeple, and the sale of Everydays: the First 5000 Days, a collage of images that sold for $69.34 million on 2021-03-11, no-one would have heard these terms. A non-fungible cryptographic token represents something unique. In this case, it is 5 000 digital images, making it the third most expensive artwork by a living artist. This contrasts with fungible tokens, used with cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, that are mutually interchangeable.
April – Voltswagen
It may have started off as a bad April Fool’s Joke, but Voltswagen is an impressive name. If Volkswagen hasn’t secured it, then I would consider it for a future project, ahead of the more Italian-English VoltaVan, an Italian-Norwegian VoltaVogn, or an all Italian VoltaVagona.
May – Adulting
Some claim that Kelly Williams Brown (1984 – ) invented the present participle, adulting, in 2015. It is a neologism that refers to behaving in an adult manner, or making someone behave like an adult, or even transforming someone into an adult. Unfortunately, for Brown, @unholytwerp tweeted the following on 2008-10-02: Grew up in a town of 2k and adulted 10 years NYC. Same values: Keeping the job. Feeding the family. Educating the kids. Buying the stuff. This abecedarian = word collector, only discovered it 2021-05-06.
June – Fast Food
This phrase refers to food that is permitted to be eaten by a person who is observing a religious fast. While I have on occasion used this term while observing a fast, in the years before I turned 70, it now appears to be part of the Oxford English Dictionary.
It has nothing to do with burgers or other sorts of food from an A & W root beer stand, or its later iterations, derived from the one that Roy W. Allen opened 102 years ago, on 1919-06-20, in Lodi, California.
July – Locovore
Other people may have come across this word in 2005, but for some people, such as myself, it is new. It refers to a person who eats foods grown locally whenever possible. At locovore.co, it seems possible to buy quail eggs from Quail Haven Urban Farm in Fort Worth, Texas. That would make a change from walking up the road to a neighbouring farm to buy chicken eggs. It appears possible to buy local foods from all over the world!
August – Flexcation
A holiday during which parents spend some of the time working from home and children are homeschooled, allowing the family to go away for a longer period than usual and at a time of year when they would not normally be able to go on holiday.
With the pandemic continuing, flexcations to distant parts of the world are not always permitted. Indeed, for the residents of Cliff Cottage, the travelogue, typically a video in segments lasting up to an hour, has become a substitute, but without excessive heat, humidity or hoards of mosquitoes. See this article about travelogues.
September – Petroholic Rehab
I am only 11 years and 2 weeks late in discovering Petroholic Rehab. It was used at the Oil Fair held in Stavanger, Norway. Marius Holm, deputy chairman of the Norwegian environmental organization, Bellona, presented this program to wean petroholics, on 2010-08-21.
For over 0 years, [corrected from the original 40 years] Norway has chosen to make themselves dependent on oil. Little Norway accounts for almost three percent of the world’s CO2 emissions, through its oil and gas exports. Norway’s dependence on oil money not only provides large CO2 emissions, but also destroys a greater restructuring for more renewable energy and energy efficiency. Norwegian politicians should realize that they must reduce the oil business, shield vulnerable areas along the coast, and cut oil industry subsidies. They should, but they don’t.
There has to be a transition to renewables. There are 12 steps to weaning:
We admit that we have a problem, that. we have let ourselves become addicted to petroleum.
We admit that our constant petroleum abuse has led to a heavy hangover.
We admit that our petroholism has negative consequences for our loved ones and for the surroundings. Consequences such as poverty, destruction and despair.
We admit that our successful, oil-based economy cannot last, and understand that we must invest both labour and capital in renewable energy sources such as algae, biomass, sun, wind, geothermal energy, tidal power and wave power.
We admit that the idea of a life without petroleum scares us. Nevertheless, we realize that there is no future in a petroleum-based life.
We realize that our future has to be green.
We admit that we have wasted large amounts of valuable energy. By using energy more effectively, we reduce the burden on the environment, the economy, and the resource base.
We choose to protect the Lofoten and the Arctic areas and to manage the fisheries in a sustainable manner.
We commit ourselves to green solutions such as electric cars.
We choose to fly through the landscape of wind-powered high-speed trains instead of taking planes. [This may have to be modified to take electric aircraft into consideration]
We realize that CO2 capture and storage are required for the remaining fossil emissions and also for the future production of carbon negative energy.
When we finally woke up, we commit ourselves to bringing this message to other petroholics, and to deal with these principles in everything we do.
October – Nanolearning
Learning that involves reading/ hearing/ watching very small pieces of information. Typically provided on the internet. It takes a minute, perhaps two, sometimes less. The key is to deliver content engagingly. It solves minute, but specific problems, using few a minimal of sentences/ soundbites/ video sequences.
November – Tshinanu
With COP26 being held in Glasgow, living-language-land offers a platform to minority and endangered language-holders to share a word and story that reflects a relationship to land and nature. They have shared 26 words to give a global audience fresh inspiration for tackling our environmental crisis. Their website explains each of these words in depth.
Of these, I have chosen Tshinanu from Nehluen, the common language used throughout the Innu communities in Quebec. According to the website, the Innu alphabet has 11 consonants and 7 vowels. It is complex, but pictorial. Words animate a thought, linking a precise action with the environment. There is one vocabulary for village life, and another for the bush. These nuances are linked with the corresponding environment, which itself is indissociable from thought, and therefore the verbal expression. The vocabulary changes with the landscape from south to north, as well as from east to west. Words enable people to understand the relationships between flora, fauna and people, who must adapt to the environment. Tshinanu – the inclusive form of we – invites sharing, community life, as there are no fences in the word tshinanu. It is a collective ‘we’, an open hand extended to others, inviting them to be a part of the circle. It also correspondingly tells a story, the story of the community of life of the person who speaks or writes. This word brings into relation the land, the animals, the plants and the peoples in the same pronoun.
December – Jazz hands
Many organizations have replaced applause with jazz hands, in an attempt to make events more accessible for people with disabilities. Unfortunately, the term might also be confused with a dance performance where the performer’s hands position the palms toward the audience with fingers splayed. This position is also referred to as webbing. It is commonly associated with especially exuberant types of performance such as musicals and cheerleading.
As an applause substitute for clapping, both arms are outstretched upwards, with fingers wiggling. This is sometimes referred to as spirit fingers or jazz fingers. Loud noises, including clapping, and especially whistling and other noises expressing appreciation, can create issues for people with anxiety, autism, deafness or other sensory issues.
Sign languages are languages with their own grammar, syntax and idioms. For many, they are languages of necessity and of access. The wave applause used at many sporting events, is another example of sign language making a positive contribution to a wider group of users.
Word of the Year – Parkour
Parkour is a training/ exercise discipline where traceurs move from one place to another in a complex environment, without assistive equipment and in the fastest and most efficient way possible. This includes the best of climbing, crawling, jumping, martial arts, obstacle courses, rolling, running, swinging and vaulting. These terms should be understandable for most readers. Yet, the tenth term, plyometrics, may require people to use Wikipedia (or other sources) to discover yet another new word.
Parkour is usually an urban activity that can be practiced alone or with others. Traceurs see their environment as a challenge, to be navigated by “movement around, across, through, over and under its features.” David Belle (1973-04-29 – ), a French actor, film choreographer and stunt coordinator, is credited with starting it in France in 1988, based on the training/ teaching of his father Raymond Belle ( 1939-10-03 – 1999-12-01).
As is often the case, parkour had a predecessor, méthode naturelle, developed by Georges Hébert, (1875-04-27 – 1957-08-02) who promoted athletic skill based on the models of indigenous tribes he had met in Africa. He noted: “their bodies were splendid, flexible, nimble, skillful, enduring and resistant but yet they had no other tutor in gymnastics but their lives in nature.” His natural method involved ten fundamental activities: walking, running, jumping, quadrupedal movement, climbing, balancing, throwing, lifting, self-defence and swimming, that helped develop three main forces: energetic (willpower, courage, coolness, and firmness), moral (benevolence, assistance, honour, and honesty), and physical (muscles and breath).
My first appreciation of parkour came in the Luc Besson (1959-03-19 – ) film Taxi 2 (1998). However, I was unaware of it by that name.
Yes, this writer may be inconsistent, even sloppy, in word usage, but in general he finds the following words annoying enough to discourage their use, in theory if not in practice.
Artist as in a vocalist or other musician who is performing live or in a recording. Please use either musician or, preferably, a more specific terms (such as guitarist, vocalist) to describe them. In the same way, one should use specific terms in other arts to describe practitioners. A person can be engaged as a painter, a print maker, a sculptor, a writer or even a poet, plus many others. If all else fails, then use performer, explaining why a more precise word is unavailable.
Expat as in an emigrant from/ immigrant to somewhere else. The correct term for an ex patriot is emigrant/ immigrant. I am one myself. I am not an expat.
The Importance of Words
This year’s Human Rights Day was celebrated on 2021-12-10, the day before the publication of this weblog post. It is celebrated annually on this date and honours the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation, on 1948-12-10, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the first global enunciation of human rights and one of the first important achievements of the new United Nations.
On this same day, journalists Maria Ressa (1963-10-02 – ) and Dmitry Muratov (1961-10-30 – ) received the Nobel peace prize. Ressa was almost blocked from attending because of travel restrictions related to legal cases filed against her in the Philippines. She is the CEO and co-founder of Rappler, an online news platform noted for exposing power abuses/ authoritarianism under Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte (1945-03-28 – ).
Muratov is editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta, a prominent defenders of free speech in Russia, or in the words of Berit Reiss-Andersen (1954-07-11 – ), chair of the Norwegian Nobel committee; “Novaya Gazeta is the most independent newspaper in Russia today, with a fundamentally critical attitude towards power.” The above link is to the Russian edition. The English version, appears to be through Facebook, a company and website that I am avoiding. Information about it appears in Wikipedia.
Reiss-Andersen also said that Ressa and Muratov were “participants in a war where the written word is their weapon, where truth is their goal and every exposure of misuse of power is a victory”.
Meanwhile, in Britain, on the same day, the High Court overturned a judgment from earlier in 2021 that prevented Julian Assange (1971-07-03 – ) from being extradited to the US, to face charges related to WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of thousands of documents, including diplomatic cables, about the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, in 2010 and 2011. This new ruling was condemned by advocates of press freedom.
Today, The Guardian newspaper is 200 years old, having established itself as The Manchester Guardian on 1821-05-05 by cotton merchant John Edward Taylor (1791 -1844) with backing from the Little Circle, a group of non-conformist businessmen. They launched their paper after the police closure of the more radical Manchester Observer, a paper that had championed the cause of the Peterloo Massacre on 1819-08-16 when cavalry charged into a crowd of 60 000 – 80 000 who had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation, killing 18 and injuring 400 – 700.
John Edward Taylor was editor of the newspaper from its founding, until his death in 1844. His younger son, also John Edward Taylor, jr. (1830–1905) became a co-owner in 1852 and sole owner in 1856. He was editor of the paper from 1861 to 1872.
Charles Prestwick Scott (1846 – 1932) was editor of The Manchester Guardian from 1872 until 1929 and its owner from 1907 until his death. He was also a Liberal Member of Parliament. Not everything about Scott is admirable, yet he was a man of his time. He was hostile to militant suffragettes and Irish rebels, but supporting of Zionists.
John Scott followed C. P. as editor and owner. In 1936, he established a trust following the deaths, in quick succession, of his father and brother, He wished to prevent future death duties forcing the closure or sale of the newspapers, and to protect the liberal editorial line of The Manchester Guardian from interference by future proprietors. This trust was dissolved and reformed in 1948. Five months after the signing of the new trust deed, John Scott died.
Its name was changed to The Guardian on 1959-08-24.
In 2008 the trust was wound up and its assets transferred to a new limited company, The Scott Trust Limited, to strengthen the protection it offers to The Guardian and because like all non-charitable trusts, and unlike limited companies, the Scott Trust has a finite lifespan. The core purpose of the Trust was enshrined in the constitution of the Limited company and cannot be altered or amended. The new company is barred from paying dividends, and its constitution has been carefully drafted to ensure that no individual can ever personally benefit from the arrangements.
In 2014, The Guardian launched a membership program to reduce financial losses without introducing a paywall, thus maintaining open access to the website. Website readers can pay a monthly subscription, with three tiers available. There are currently more than one million subscriptions or donations.
For the bicentenary edition, 2021-05-05, The Guardian provided an annotated version of its first edition. “Ads on the front page, news on the back, and a frankly unbelievable story about a ghost” are unearthed. One hundred years before, editor C. P. Scott published an essay in The Manchester Guardian on the centenary of the paper’s first issue, 1921-05-05. It is replicated here:
“A hundred years is a long time; it is a long time even in the life of a newspaper, and to look back on it is to take in not only a vast development in the thing itself, but a great slice in the life of the nation, in the progress and adjustment of the world.
In the general development the newspaper, as an institution, has played its part, and no small part, and the particular newspaper with which I personally am concerned has also played its part, it is to be hoped, not without some usefulness. I have had my share in it for a little more than fifty years; I have been its responsible editor for only a few months short of its last half-century; I remember vividly its fiftieth birthday; I now have the happiness to share in the celebration of its hundredth. I can therefore speak of it with a certain intimacy of acquaintance. I have myself been part of it and entered into its inner courts. That is perhaps a reason why, on this occasion, I should write in my own name, as in some sort a spectator, rather than in the name of the paper as a member of its working staff.
In all living things there must be a certain unity, a principle of vitality and growth. It is so with a newspaper, and the more complete and clear this unity the more vigorous and fruitful the growth. I ask myself what the paper stood for when first I knew it, what it has stood for since and stands for now. A newspaper has two sides to it. It is a business, like any other, and has to pay in the material sense in order to live. But it is much more than a business; it is an institution; it reflects and it influences the life of a whole community; it may affect even wider destinies. It is, in its way, an instrument of government. It plays on the minds and consciences of men. It may educate, stimulate, assist, or it may do the opposite. It has, therefore, a moral as well as a material existence, and its character and influence are in the main determined by the balance of these two forces. It may make profit or power its first object, or it may conceive itself as fulfilling a higher and more exacting function.
I think I may honestly say that, from the day of its foundation, there has not been much doubt as to which way the balance tipped as far as regards the conduct of the paper whose fine tradition I inherited and which I have had the honour to serve through all my working life. Had it not been so, personally, I could not have served it. Character is a subtle affair, and has many shades and sides to it. It is not a thing to be much talked about, but rather to be felt. It is the slow deposit of past actions and ideals. It is for each man his most precious possession, and so it is for that latest growth of time the newspaper. Fundamentally it implies honesty, cleanness, courage, fairness, a sense of duty to the reader and the community. A newspaper is of necessity something of a monopoly, and its first duty is to shun the temptations of monopoly. Its primary office is the gathering of news. At the peril of its soul it must see that the supply is not tainted. Neither in what it gives, nor in what it does not give, nor in the mode of presentation must the unclouded face of truth suffer wrong. Comment is free, but facts are sacred. “Propaganda,” so called, by this means is hateful. The voice of opponents no less than that of friends has a right to be heard. Comment also is justly subject to a self-imposed restraint. It is well to be frank; it is even better to be fair. This is an ideal. Achievement in such matters is hardly given to man. We can but try, ask pardon for shortcomings, and there leave the matter.
But, granted a sufficiency of grace, to what further conquests may we look, what purpose serve, what task envisage? It is a large question, and cannot be fully answered. We are faced with a new and enormous power and a growing one. Whither is the young giant tending? What gifts does he bring? How will he exercise his privilege and powers? What influence will he exercise on the minds of men and on our public life? It cannot be pretended that an assured and entirely satisfactory answer can be given to such questions. Experience is in some respects disquieting. The development has not been all in the direction which we should most desire.
One of the virtues, perhaps almost the chief virtue, of a newspaper is its independence. Whatever its position or character, at least it should have a soul of its own. But the tendency of newspapers, as of other businesses, in these days is towards amalgamation. In proportion, as the function of a newspaper has developed and its organisation expanded, so have its costs increased. The smaller newspapers have had a hard struggle; many of them have disappeared. In their place we have great organisations controlling a whole series of publications of various kinds and even of differing or opposing politics. The process may be inevitable, but clearly there are drawbacks. As organisation grows personality may tend to disappear. It is much to control one newspaper well; it is perhaps beyond the reach of any man, or any body of men, to control half a dozen with equal success. It is possible to exaggerate the danger, for the public is not undiscerning. It recognises the authentic voices of conscience and conviction when it finds them, and it has a shrewd intuition of what to accept and what to discount.
This is a matter which in the end must settle itself, and those who cherish the older ideal of a newspaper need not be dismayed. They have only to make their papers good enough in order to win, as well as to merit, success, and the resources of a newspaper are not wholly measured in pounds, shillings, and pence. Of course the thing can only be done by competence all round, and by that spirit of co-operation right through the working staff which only a common ideal can inspire.
There are people who think you can run a newspaper about as easily as you can poke a fire, and that knowledge, training, and aptitude are superfluous endowments. There have even been experiments on this assumption, and they have not met with success. There must be competence, to start with, on the business side, just as there must be in any large undertaking, but it is a mistake to suppose that the business side of a paper should dominate, as sometimes happens, not without distressing consequences.
A newspaper, to be of value, should be a unity, and every part of it should equally understand and respond to the purposes and ideals which animate it. Between its two sides there should be a happy marriage, and editor and business manager should march hand in hand, the first, be it well understood, just an inch or two in advance. Of the staff much the same thing may be said. They should be a friendly company. They need not, of course, agree on every point, but they should share in the general purpose and inheritance. A paper is built up upon their common and successive labours, and their work should never be task work, never merely dictated. They should be like a racing boat’s crew, pulling well together, each man doing his best because he likes it, and with a common and glorious goal.
That is the path of self-respect and pleasure; it is also the path of success. And what a work it is! How multiform, how responsive to every need and every incident of life! What illimitable possibilities of achievement and of excellence! People talk of “journalese” as though a journalist were of necessity a pretentious and sloppy writer; he may be, on the contrary, and very often is, one of the best in the world. At least he should not be content to be much less. And then the developments. Every year, almost every day, may see growth and fresh accomplishments, and with a paper that is really alive, it not only may, but does. Let anyone take a file of this paper, or for that matter any one of half a dozen other papers, and compare its whole make-up and leading features today with what they were five years ago, ten years ago, twenty years ago, and he will realise how large has been the growth, how considerable the achievement. And this is what makes the work of a newspaper worthy and interesting. It has so many sides, it touches life at so many points, at every one there is such possibility on improvement and excellence. To the man, whatever his place on the paper, whether on the editorial or business, or even what may be regarded as the mechanical side — this also vitally important in its place — nothing should satisfy short of the best, and the best must always seem a little ahead of the actual. It is here that ability counts and that character counts, and it is on these that a newspaper, like every great undertaking, if it is to be worthy of its power and duty, must rely.”
Black Lives Matter, and it is increasingly important for everyone to understand that eliminating racism in all of its manifestations is a goal that has to be started immediately. This includes eliminating offensive terms from technical vocabulary.
There is no need to add colour to a term describing a series of names or other items to be excluded (blocklist) or included (allowlist). This applies to processes as well (block or allow).
Many technological companies are doing something about it. This includes changing the commonly used master/ slave duality with main/ default/ primary/ root for the former and secondary/ auxilliary/ derived/ dependent for the latter.
While the focus in this weblog post is on racism, it does not mean that sexism and other abominations can be forgotten. These too should be included in a general clean-up of technical vocabulary.
Two of the terms I have difficulty with regarding components are male/ female. I have never understood why they are used, when a more neutral input/ output expression is available.
It would be appreciated if readers could add comments to this blog to indicate additional terms that should be changed (with or without suggested substitutes). These could be technical or more general terms.
Why do I subject myself, and readers, to this massive outpouring of words, that a weblog represents? There are two reasons. The first is my addiction to writing, combined with an inability to keep a diary. When I try to write a diary, which used to happen about once a decade, it is more a reflection on the day’s events, than a chronicle of them. My determination as a diarist lasts about a week. There are a thousand excuses for any failure to write, not finding the diary being paramount.
The second reason involves brain stimulation. Novelty releases dopamine in the brain. which, in turn, stimulates the amygdala, the site of emotion, and creates a pleasurable feeling that is associated with the new activity. Fun encourages more fun, which is what writing a weblog post should be about.
A weblog suits my personality: my mind prefers to focus on topics, rather than on events, or on people; a keyboard is faster than a pen. Yet, despite its slowness, I still use pen and paper to write other texts, for handwriting is an skill that should be retained and sometimes promoted. My one vanity is a pride in my handwriting, which – when I take the time – is small and legible and produced using liquid blue ink. I have tried black, red and even green, but prefer blue.
Changes are easier to make with word processors, than they are with pen on paper. While it may not be any easier to start writing a blog than to begin an entry in a diary, but it is easier to continue again at a later date, and to make corrections. Innumerable drafts can be kept, that can be published in any order, or even discarded. Not even my hairdresser knows how many drafts I have stored away, awaiting further inspiration. As I write this sentence, there are 330 posts in total, 293 published, 6 scheduled, 31 in draft form, and one in the bin. That is the number on my private website, not on the Keywords website or inside my computers or on external drives.
As I write these lines my mind returns to the early 1980s, and to the technology available at the time. A computer terminal can show what was right, and what was wrong with an era that introduced the masses to computing.
The Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) VT 100 terminal was a companion for three years. Designed for computer programming, rather than word processing, with 80 columns and 24 lines of white text against a black background. The monitor/ screen was fixed in position, too low and unsuitably angled. The keyboard was far too high, and certainly not ergonomic. The user was expected to adapt to the machine.
The Norsk Data (ND) system, with its ND-Notis word processor was a vast improvement. The Tandberg TDV-2200 terminal was the most ergonomic terminal in the world at the time, its brown and beige monitor/ screen featured green text on a black background, and was fully adjustable in every direction. Its beige, brown and orange keyboard, was a delight to use. I used such a system, in two different environments, for four years. Even the colour scheme was explained in ergonomic terms, with claims that the colours chosen were more restive than any other colour combinations available. The machine was expected to adapt to the user.
It is easy for old men to focus on the past, but that is not what I want to do here. I want to encourage people of multiple ages and genders and ethnicities and interests to reflect on their lives, and on society, and then to express themselves. How will people in a future age know what it was like to live at this time, if you don’t tell them? How will people in distant lands, know what you experienced, are experiencing? Help them to understand, and you might also begin to understand yourself, and your place in the world.
A weblog does not have to be written words. It can be words or music as sound waves, or assorted movements as video. At the moment, it is more problematic to diffuse smells and tastes, but a time may come when this is possible. Poetry, drama, comedy, performance are all valid forms of expression. It could be images: photographs as works of art or mirrors of contemporary life; drawings, paintings, collage; sculpture that is knitted, cast in bronze or chiselled away from stone; culinary masterpieces. Craftsmanship is of particular importance to me, and I admire all forms of it: woodworking, metalworking, moulding in plastic, papier-mâché, sewing.
As is my habit, I encourage people to write weblogs, rather than to use social media. Restrict it to your best friends and closest family, and perhaps a couple of people you don’t know that well, to keep it honest. Write about the topics that interest you. Perhaps you know something about tractors, or dogs or playing congas.
With 7.7 billion people, the world is being consumed, so there is less nature for other species to inhabit, and ourselves to enjoy. We – in the west – will have to learn to consume less, so that others may fulfil their lives. Hopefully, this will also mean that we will work less, and spend our free time in pursuits that benefit others as well as ourselves. Even billionaires would benefit, if there was increased equality. Perhaps you could find, then document, ways of doing things better, that use less energy or water or materials. Perhaps you could invent, then document, new ways of having fun: A new game, dance, sport or toy.
It is now New Year’s Eve 2019, and this timeline is being published to indicate my personal focus for the coming year, 2020. It also looks back at the previous three years (2017 – 2019), and a few sentences looking forward to each of the three years (2021 – 2023).
What characterizes all of these years is an acute realization that we are living during a climate crisis, and that this requires not only a change of attitude, but a change of behaviour. Humans, collectively, have to spend and consume not just less, but also better. My concern is that consuming disproportionately helps the elites to amass even more excessive wealth, which they will invest/ spend without considering the health of the planet, or its citizens. Better means prioritizing spending locally and intelligently on products that reduce, or at a minimum – contribute less to increased, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Two recent insights that leads to a change of priorities. First, I discovered that ordinary Americans feel they have to take up debt in order to build up a credit rating. I thought it was enough to have money salted away in a bank account. While I realized that many of the working poor had to borrow in order to acquire necessities, I was not aware that debt had become so institutionalized. Second, I did not realize that many Americans lacked the capability to make their own food. This might be due to a lack of kitchen facilities, or cooking competencies, or both. Many are then forced to use fast-food facilities (no, these are not restaurants) to provide them with food that is unhealthy, and further deteriorates the quality of their lives.
I am currently reflecting how these insights will motivate me to help change these ways of thinking. There may be a need to borrow money for a place to live, but people should not have to borrow to educate or transport themselves. Highter-education has to become free, and – in my opinion – is always best undertaken along with (at least) part-time work. If public transport isn’t usefully available, then ride-sharing may be a solution.
There is the matter of nourishment. Hopefully, everyone will have the opportunity to grow more healthy food, learning to avoid excessive amounts of sugar and other forms of empty calories. They will, of course, have to learn how to transform these into interesting meals.
I have always been an advocate of free entertainment. Holly- and Bollywood aren’t necessary, when the average smartphone (for lack of a better word) has the capability to record video and audio in much better quality than Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Akira Kurosawa or Ingmar Bergman could ever dream of. Local productions have their own value, yet can be distributed far and wide, so that they become exotic productions in other parts of the world. A discussion of technique and talent will be left to another day. Similar comments can be made about theatrical performances, music, games and sports, and fictional writing.
Yes, this section was originally titled 2020 vision, until I decided to replace vision with sound and then nothing. It is more accurate without anything, because I have not decided on any major focus, apart from the ongoing rehabilitation of Cliff Cottage. This involves practical carpentry to renovate (or as we say here) re-educate the house to make it smarter, with a focus on microprocessors, sensors, actuators and the home assistant operating system. While some practical work will be undertaken during first three and last three months of the year, April to September, inclusive is when outdoor work has to be done.
An aside: In much of Europe including Norway and many other places, people no longer use the American (20′) or metric (6 m) to express perfect vision, which is actually only mediocre vision. Instead, they content themselves with a ratio: 20/20 = 6/6 = 1.00, frequently referred to as a decimal measure of visual acuity. While I didn’t do so now, sometimes I indulge myself, making wordplay out of interesting phrases. At the beginning of 2019-02, after writing Keywords 06 Choice, I could not resist temptation and wrote Keywords 007 Bond, featuring a concept by Mark Granovetter, instead of another by John Patrick Leary. Subsequently, the first six keywords were renumbered using 3 digits.
In a world filled with fake news, and with extremism emerging on all sides, it is important to provide a pathway through a maze of hopelessness, for myself and for others. Fiction is an important tool. First, it is a clear admission, that what is being written is, in some way, fake. This means that any insights, posing as hidden truths, cannot be rejected simply on the basis of their non-alignment with established facts. Second, fiction can be honed to meet specific and potentially evolving needs – social, political, technological, physical. Third, in a busy world, fiction can be presented in ways that captivate people. There are fewer opportunities for people to read fiction, or even to view it on screen. Eyes are too busy navigating hazards. This means that one of the most important mechanisms for the transmission of fictional works is through the ears, via audio – podcasts or audio books.
This change of focus means that the Keywords project will have its outward manifestation paused. Here, too, there will be an emphasis on the aural (hearing) and the oral (speaking). There will be no new keywords presented in a blog. Instead, the existing materials will be adapted as podcasts, as well as being published collectively and visually in a book format (.pdf/ .epub), augmented with a few important, but missing keywords.
I have already begun producing weblog posts about (computing) devices. The first one, about Windows 7, is scheduled for 2020-01-07, one week before non-business customers loose support from Microsoft. Other posts will discuss some of the components that should (or should not be) prioritized by people living during a climate crisis. This will take up most of the time between January and March.
After the building season comes to an end, many of the currently unpublished drafts at brock.mclellan.no involving workshop activities, will be published. These will be edited into a workshop manual aimed at beginning workshop activists of all genders. Projects will be related to making products that will reduce one’s carbon footprint, and give a better quality of life to poor(ish) people.
I am a project oriented person. However, one of my personality traits is an inability to focus on a project for more than one year. During 2017, my one request was not to make any long-term commitments. I wanted to experience retirement before making decisions about the future.
After a month of apartment living on Madiera, and despite my promise to wait, one decision made was to avoid moving to an apartment, for as long as possible. I wanted to have the opportunity to enjoy a workshop, Unit One, located at Ginnunga Gap, approximately 20 meters from Cliff Cottage, and to produce wooden and other items of interest. I have previously written about Unit One’s mission statement and core values.
Towards the end of 2017, I was asked to participate in a techno workshop project in Inderøy. Its funding mandate, necessitated that it be completed by the end of 2018. This suited my personality perfectly, and I accepted. Unfortunately, the project went overtime, which did not suit my personality, and encroached on projects that I had already committed to in 2019.
In terms of housing goals, only the under-insulated weather wall of the house facing Trondheim’s Fjord, was replaced to allow 250 mm (10″) of insulation.
In 2017-10, I decided to organize a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Birth of the Bab, one of two manifestations/ prophets of the Baha’i Faith. One of the ways in which this was done was to host an event, held 2019-10-29.
The techno workshop opened officially on 2019-05-24, over five months late! Unfortunately, this delay had its consequences. To ensure that 2020 goals are met, I resigned any future commitment with the techno workshop, and became inactive with other organizations, including the local Friends of the Earth group. It has been difficult for me to learn how to say no, but quite necessary.
It is hoped that progress in making the house at Vangshylla suitable for old people, will be completed by 2023-12-31. 2021 Communications. This will emphasize the use of audio-visual technology as a means of communication. 2022 CNC. With most of the construction work completed, the workshop can be transformed into a CNC machining centre, hopefully with an increased emphasis on environmentally-friendly synthetics, some metals and sustainable wood. 2023 Electronics. My first exposure to electronics came in about 1963, sixty years previously, when I started building a Heathkit radio. It is now time to work in this area again. This will not be a nostalgic recreation of obsolete products, but an attempt to explore the future.