Paris attacks illustrate the power of mockery

At my secondary school in Malta, I was privileged to learn the modern history of Europe at a course that used the satirical cartoons of Punch magazine. We also learned English history with reference to the pamphleteers of the Tudor era.

From Mr. Doug Saunders’ article in today’s Globe and Mail (see link below):

But, as we’ve seen over and over recently, it is mockery, far more than rhetorical or logical criticism, that reaches its target and drives its wounded victims to paroxysms of revenge.

Mockery travels faster than news or analysis. While Charlie Chaplin’s Interview-style mockery of Adolf Hitler in The Great Dictator was not considered a major part of the arsenal against the Fuhrer in that predigital era (and certainly didn’t provoke violence), the instant spread of disrespectful imagery is capable of threatening entire edifices of authority overnight.

Free speech is an essential of real freedom. Rude, disrespectful satire, traditionally in outrageous cartoon form, is a powerful, effective form of that free speech.  – – –  JE SUIS CHARLIE.

via Paris attacks illustrate the power of mockery – The Globe and Mail.

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Je suis Charlie

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Gravatars! Blavatars!

I’ve banished Miss Punkerbell.  –  Miss Mirror Tattyhead is now my WordPress blavatar as well as my Internet gravatar.

There are blavatars and gravatars. It’s a WordPress technical thing and it’s  taken half the afternoon to discover that and learn how to use and change them!

But mustn’t complain; I enjoy being a techie really. 🙂

P.S. to other WordPress users:  Gravatars are changed using the widget and blavatars are changed using Settings / General within the Classic Dashboard.

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BBC News – Toplessness – the one Victorian taboo that won’t go away

BBC News – Toplessness – the one Victorian taboo that won’t go away

My own assets in that regard are, well, unremarkable (B cup). And anyway, in Toronto, where I live, that debate was held years ago and women are free to be topless if they wish. As it happens, not many of us actually exercise that right.

However, being an older lady, I frequently discover that there is still a prejudice against legs; a prejudice expressed usually by my own female, older contemporaries.

I frequently wear short skirts; I like the look and feel. Almost certainly, though, one of my neighbours, friends or acquaintances will make some pointed remark. Or, actually, they used to do so. My uncaring cheerful, reply might now be starting to influence them.

One of them was wearing a nifty little skirt last week, albeit also with some quite severely conservative tights. Nevertheless, legs were admitted to exist  and she looked very smart and presentable and feminine.

via BBC News – Toplessness – the one Victorian taboo that won\’t go away.

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Is Quantum Entanglement Real? – NYTimes.com

Is Quantum Entanglement Real? – NYTimes.com

I feel that we are near a breakthrough; that Einstein will be shown to be relevant but no longer wholly valid. Or put the way I feel, “Entanglement Rules!”. – and thus we break the Light (Space  Time) Barrier. Exciting!

via Is Quantum Entanglement Real? – NYTimes.com.

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Justin Trudeau Frightens Me

I saw this article this morning and soon after reading it I heard Cardinal Collins of Toronto being interviewed on Newstalk 1010 radio.

I’m so glad that the cardinal is speaking out. This is what I posted to my Facebook Timeline:

“It is not right that [Roman Catholics] be excluded by any party for being faithful to their conscience, . . .” Justin Trudeau’s style is reminiscent of those in past dreadful history who have excluded Jews, Muslims, Catholics and others whose consciences are not in political favour. For as long as Trudeau or his ilk lead a political party in Canada, then I cannot choose to vote for that party no matter what and so am excluded from full and free participation in Canadian democracy. That’s a damned shame in such a beautiful country as Canada. However I have faith that Trudeau is a passing aberration. Meanwhile those of us who have learned from history to be afraid will vote other than Liberal.

A spokesperson for the Liberal Party replied in the context of “Women’s Rights”. But all people of good conscience support all people’s rights, men’s and women’s, but just as the cardinal says that political authority is not without limits then I add that human rights are not without limits.

Where the boundaries of those limits are drawn is a matter of judgement and conscience. My personal conscience, educated by my experience of the love of God, draws that line on the side of protection of the unborn.

For democracy to be safe from suppression, repression, discrimination and persecution, then decisions of conscience must not be dictated by any political party. History has repeatedly demonstrated the horrors, destruction and loss of life than can result if that freedom does not apply.

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Jury Selection in Ontario – A Defence of the Methods

This treatise is written in the context of my observations in the City of Toronto in the Province of Ontario, Canada. It might not be applicable to other jurisdictions.

ACCUSATIONS:

  1. That too many people are summonsed; that most people who go to the courthouse in response to the Summons just sit and wait for days and are then sent home as not required.
  2. That the methods used for selection are antique and inefficient and should be replaced by computer systems.
    1. Handwritten paper slips are used to organise people into jury panels.
    2. Hand-cranked, lottery drums are used to select those who are considered for sitting on a jury.

DEFENCES:

  • Situation: Suppose for the argument that 10 court cases are anticipated in a particular week and therefore:
  • Objective: 140 jurors (12 jurors and 2 alternates) needed for that week

DEFENCE OF NUMBER OF PEOPLE SUMMMONSED

Question: How many people should be summonsed to report for Jury Selection to provide 140 jurors?
My answer is 1820 people

From observation, I argue:

  • It is unacceptable for a court case to be delayed because the pools of people available have run out.
  • Because of this, it is necessary that the number of Summonses issued must presume worst-case outcomes.

In the particular instance in which I participated, 60 people were sent to court in our panel and only 8 of us were left in the courtroom by the time that the jury and alternates had been selected. Of those 38 (60-(8+14)) people whose number had been called out but who were not on the jury, only 33 had been “protested” and therefore eligible to return to the panel. The other 5 had successfully pleaded with the judge that they should be excused from jury duty. To have only 8 left in the courtroom was a close situation for a relatively ordinary case (attempted armed robbery) and so for my argument I’ll say that sufficient people should be summonsed to have panels of 65 people each.

Thus for our hypothetical situation of 10 court cases listed for the week, we need 650 people sitting, waiting in the Jury Panel Room at the courthouse.

BUT, that 650 people is the result of attrition.

After those of us who obeyed the summons to appear were organised into panels, settled down and seated in the Jury Panel Room, it was announced that those who had brought letters with them asking to be excused from jury duty should leave to another room to present their letters for consideration. Approximately 45% of the people left. None of them came back so presumably their letters were accepted. To conform to our “worst-case” argument, we need to allow for half of the people to have left.

Thus 1300 people need to arrive in the Jury Panel Room at the courthouse to provide 140 people for the 10 cases listed to be heard that week

That is a large number of people but if those attrition percentages, which must be provided for, then it is inevitable that under ordinary circumstances there is quite correctly and necessarily a large number of people who simply sit and wait and, at the end of the week, go home.

Those who do just sit and wait and go home should be proud, though, that they have still performed a good and valuable civic duty.

However, our arithmetic isn’t quite finished. The question was to determined how many should be summonsed

My paragraph above started, “. . . those of us who obeyed the summons . . .”. Obeying the summons is a legal obligation. However, according to a report on CBC News, the average number of people who simply ignore the summons is about 20% and can be as high as 40%. Causes and remedies are outside the scope of this post but it does show that, for the 140 jurors needed for hypothetical 10 court cases, it is necessary to send summonses to 1300 x 1.4 = 1820 PEOPLE. For only 140 to be jurors.

DEFENCE OF THE ANTIQUE METHODS USED

  • Handwritten paper slips are used to organise people into jury panels.
  • Hand-cranked, lottery drums are used to select those who are considered for sitting on a jury.

The “Heartbleed” vulnerability in a version of OpenSSL and Canada Revenue Agency closing its websites for several days demonstrates why the quaint manual methods used in Ontario are desirable for jury selection. It also happens that soon after the Canada Revenue Agency reopened its websites and announced the arrest of the person suspected of entering their database, there was a major electrical power failure in Toronto.

While it is can be argued that computer programs and systems can be built that do the organisations and selections, they cannot be witnessed publicly to perform their work, only the result can be perceived. They can be wrong. Testing can never be perfect and errors and omissions might have for a number of instances before a flaw was detected.

Manual systems, quaint as they might seem, can be openly witnessed and verified in situ. They are also independent of electrical power.

Therefore I believe that they should be retained. I also have a personal response to them in that when I saw them in use in the atmosphere of the courthouse and the courtroom I was reminded of the venerable traditions of justice, which I love and respect

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