Posts tagged with "lerv"
But here, they are because I finished books number 8 and 9.
Working more than eight hours in a day is hard. I get compensated today with a comfortable bed, a good meal, nice wine.
Today I know two women were buried. One, I never knew. The friend of a friend, she was known in some way to many. A life extinguished prematurely, a person who is clearly missed. I see my friends' pain, and understand a little of what I have been like in the past, when I could not share something that hurt so.
The other was a friend. I have lost friends before, but I have never been able to imagine this. She was murdered, apparently by the man who was supposed to have been her lover, the one person who, of his own free choice, was meant to protect her from harm.
I can't understand. I can believe that she is gone in my head, but in my heart she is still somewhere there, complaining about work, looking forward to a holiday, wanting to do something and instead putting it off for some obligation, writing quietly, thinking about tomorrow or last week.
I can't find it in me to forgive and forget. I simply do not care what happens to him. I don't want him to die, or be killed, because that cannot bring her back, cannot take away the pain of the people who love her. I think I hope he lives a long time, and knows what he has done. Maybe he will realise, maybe he will one day understand and learn something. What other good can come of such a tragedy, such a waste of a life, the loss of a friend, a sister, a daughter, a loving person loved, with hopes and dreams and ideas and life?
As long as one person remembers her smile, the way she opened the door or shrugged her shoulders or disappeared into her thoughts, she is still with us. Her body lies with her grandmother in a place I may never go, but her memory is free to visit.
Words can only reflect the emptiness inside. We can do no more than go on loving, caring for ourselves, our lives, and the people around, those who have graced our lives with a moment, with years of their life.
And if anyone has any say in it, I would like to have a week of good news please.
It looks good for a politician to say "I'm taking concrete action to look after the children of [insert your home here]". Who in their right mind doesn't support the idea of protecting children from evil? But does this law really healp, or is it just like trying to lock them in Rapunzel's tower?
Children are inquisitive. They are, at their best, naturally inclined to learn about what it is to be an adult - those mythical figures who earn their own money, don't have an enforced bedtime, don't have to ask if they can go to a friend's house, and apparently have the kind of wisdom that makes "because I said so" a rational argument.
At some point they discover that among the things adults do which are forbidden to children is the one that caused them to exist in the first place. In our marketing-driven culture, it's hard not to learn that people do this because they enjoy it, and fortunately many discover it as an expression of love, a gift that people can offer again and again, and moreover one that comes from themselves, not from a shop.
Children are often sociable, friendly, and we try to teach them that giving is a positive thing. Shops, offices, homes, are filled with artwork that is not very good, but proudly displayed because it is a gift from a child.
As individuals we try to protect those we love from harm, and that naturally includes our children. We try to teach them to avoid the dangers in the world, from being hit by a car while crossing the road to being struck down by nasty diseases caused by smoking. Parents make an effort to know what their children are doing, to ensure that they are safe.
As a society we try to extend that protection to all the members of society. To do so, we make some very arbitrary decisions. We set age limits on all kinds of things, from leaving school to seeing violent films. We try to give people enough education to enable them to survive as independent adults and discourage them from surviving by stealing, from coping with difficulties by taking drugs we consider harmful.
None of these mechanisms are perfect, but that in itself does not mean they are unimportant. What we do try to ensure is that there is a reasonable balance between the freedom to live an independent and fulfilling life, making a sufficient contribution to the society so it can continue to function, and providing effective protection for society at the cost of restricting the lives of individuals - or in some societies by taking the lives of individuals.
From Algeria to Afghanistan to America, from Norway to Nuie to New Zealand, people have different ideas of the best way to do this, and governments have more or less success in reflecting those desires in the structures that they create. The key is to ensure that whatever we do is an effective part of maintaining that balance.
To return to this law then. Is it going to achieve its stated goal, or is there a better way? Does it respect the need for freedom and help ensure people can achieve their goals in life (and our goals for them)? Does it recognise the realities of the world or is it based on assumptions whose unrealistic nature dooms it to failure? In short, does it meet that test of effectively maintaining the balance?
The American Library Association did not think so. In their submission (PDF 34kb) they pointed out that social networking provides an enormous value to education, and that the proposal paints a distorted view of the internet. I am certain that among the 65,000 members of the assocation not all of them are the wonderful people we would like our librarians to be, but equally sure that the overwhelming majority of them are in fact people who understand a lot about children.
I think they are correct. Not all parents are wonderful. Not all children will avoid being killed by cars. Not everyone will avoid smoking, or any of the thousands of other dangers in life. But this law will not stop inquisitive children from meeting inventive predators, nor even (in my opinion) significantly hinder the process. It will not teach children how to protect themselves from falling into such situations. It will reduce their ability to learn, by reducing many children's opportunities for educational social interaction. This is a net loss for socety, and a serious one.
There are nasty things, nasty people, nasty situations on the internet, just as there are in the physical world. There are more powerful ways of creating barriers, of making it clear to people that they are going to a dangerous place, and making it difficult to get in. They are not perfect. But they are, I believe, more effective than simplistic legislation.
One of the simplest and best-known today is "tagging". We can tell our children not to go to this or that dangerous place, but by the time they learn to read we can teach them that a variety of signs mean a place is dangerous and should be avoided. In the long run this is far more helpful. (Funnily enough, it is something that has long been advocated and adopted by large sections of the adult entertainment industry and by many schools and libraries).
Paedophilia is widely agreed to be evil and bad for children (although it wasn't always so), and the sexual predator in the park looking for little children is a familiar figure in the shared nightmares of our society. I grew up being warned about "danger stranger" and that the toilets at the park were a place where some men looked for children to do things that we probably wouldn't want to do. (I never saw any of these people, but their graffiti messaging system was familiar from similar examples in universities and libraries I had been to).
I had a very good teacher in primary school who was a known paedophile. I don't recall the details, but I knew at the time that no chldren were to be left alone with him. What I didn't realise until very much later is that another (not very good) teacher of mine was also a paedophile. I only discovered this because someone else's child discovered, too late, the very very hard way.
We cannot protect ourselves from all risks, and we cannot protect others from all danger. As adults, we freely and consciously engage in risk-taking behaviour, and children also do this. We can try to provide some basic protections, like ensuring that people are not driving cars in suburban streets so fast that it is impossible to stop if a child runs onto the road, or providing a raft of sanctions and proactively attempting to protect our children from sexual predators (or any other kind of sexual activity). But unless we equip them to make sensible decisions, by understanding the nature of the world, we are doing them a disservice and leaving them more vulnerable than ever to those who have found a way around our simple-minded approach.
I'm not a US citizen, I do not live there. It is not my place to decide, for them, how their society should run its own affairs. But I do hope that this law doesn't make it through the political process to become the law of their land, because I think it will harm the American people, and by further isolating them from the rest of the world will eventually have a negative global impact.
So if I do see a film, it is on TV or DVD at someone else's house (this year thaat includes most of "Bend it like Beckham" and "Leningrad Cowboys go America", both films I have seen before), or on an aeroplane.
As I write this, I am sitting on an aeroplane. Copenhagen - Tokyo - San Francisco is, I think, the longest trip I have ever made without crossing hemispheres. (It would have been from Oslo first, but I missed a connection in Copenhagen, and did stop for a day there).
The first film I watched on the plane was "Walk the Line". It deals with the somewhat delicate subject of Johnny Cash breaking up with his first wife, as he falls in love with, chases for years, and eventually marries June Carter.
It seems likely that they loved each other long and deeply - they were married for 35 years, until they died a couple of years ago. They had both been married before, but they were an inspiration to each other, as lovers are.
But it seems a little odd. Once upon a time, movies were about people falling in love, overcoming obstacles, getting married, and being happy ever after. And indeed, that's the main story here. The obstacles are mostly drugs being bad (mkay), but quitting drugs is a trial that can bring people out stronger, happier, and more stable.
But in this film, we first have what might be considered the unedifying spectacle of a marriage breaking up. We know this happens. We know it happens often, and that while people sometimes find love that lasts a lifetime of happiness, what they sometimes find is less enduring, or they don't get the chance to find out.
Breaking up, as people who have done it know, generally sucks. Often for a long time. If you are dumped, you're miserable. If you are the one who walks, you know the pain you have caused, the promises you have broken, you wonder if you did the right thing and you know that at least partially you didn't, however much the balance is that you did. If your relationship slowly fades until you decide by mutual consent, you have to live with it and watch it, think of what you didn't do.
Falling in love is a joy. Being in love is a gift, an effort willingly made, and repaid rapidly and repeatedly. It's also a risky journey, embarked upon with everything to lose. And everything to win. And you never know where it's going to end up, until you have finished the journey.
I watched a second film. Spending my entire weekend travelling, there isn't a lot else to do.
Good night, good luck
Widgets and things
Twitter, blogs, comments...
Twitter is quick, but not always great. I always wanted a blog made up of comments - and this link category is a step in making one :)
WYSIWYG Editors and HTML
Response to well-written blog explaining why "WYSIWYG Editors hate HTML5". I agree there are problems, I think there are solutions available.
WYSIWYG Editors and HTML, pt 2
Further exploration of how things really are and what can usefully be done.
JAWS got it wrong. Just handing over the keyboard is stupid - even if the role itself is not.
Entrevista con Jan Standal
Respuestas a los comentarios sobre una entrevista de Jan Standal (de Opera).
Opera Brasil na Noruega
Fotos que quero (e não)
(Muchos comentarios, un articulo)
Una conversación sobre la Web Móvil
Improving accessibility - what do we need?
It's not about one magic solution - this is a complex problem and lots of things need to be done.
Unite geolocation app
Cool ways to manage your own location data
Código abierto y Opera
Porque ser abierto no es la diferencía entre exito y la muerte.
HTML - a new standard
CSSquirrel suggests that listening to more people would make HTML better. I agree, but there are people who already influence HTML and should think about how they can do it better.
Walking in an exoskeleton, and why it isn't necessary
There is a big difference between (disabled) people achieving something, and expecting that everyone should do things "like us".