News and politics

‘Speak ZA’ – Bloggers for a Free Press

Freedom of Speech - ANCYL I often prefer to steer away from political and religious debate, especially on my blog. However, today I am making an exception.

I have been made aware of a movement that is taking place. My fellow South African bloggers are taking a stand against the ANC Youth League and the current ruling party for attempting to strangle our right to freedom of speech.

A free press can be good or bad, but, most certainly, without freedom a press will never be anything but bad.
                                                                 ~ Albert Camus

As a result, South African bloggers have been called by Sipho Hlongwane to join in the protest against the jackboot tactics the ANC Youth League are employing to try and destroy the freedom of the press.

If you support this movement you are urged to spread the word by using the “#SpeakZA” hash tag via social media and by spreading the following statement on your blog:

Heroes and Villains: Escaping Reality

Super Hero - Superman WW2 Have you ever wondered what life would have been like if Superheroes and Villains actually existed? For the most part, all we can do is ponder the infinite possibilities, often courtesy of video games, books, television, movies and, most importantly, our very own imagination.

Agan Harahap, a photographer and illustrator from Jakarta, Indonesia, has taken the concept of Superheroes and brought them into a pseudo-reality. By incorporating infamous characters into iconic World War II photographs, Harahap  has managed to blur the lines between fiction and truth. In so doing, he has managed to merge the fantastically impossible with our past physical existence, in order to create  a Superhero adorned alternate reality.

Harahap’s latest collection, aptly titled ‘Super Hero’, consists of memorable political and wartime scenes from the mid-20th century, but with one difference: the inclusion of notable Superheroes (or Villains?). This extraordinary combination is a true juxtaposition in effect.

With respect to the current global economic crisis, Harahap’s work could not come at a more fortuitous time. Coincidentally, the advent of the Superhero, according to Douglas Hyde (2009), was largely spurred on by the Great Depression and the start of World War II. As a result, comic books and superheroes were said to offer an ‘escapist form of entertainment’, where people could “go into a fantasy world where all the ills of the world were righted by these larger-than-life heroes” (Erin Clancy, 2009).

Subsequently, audiences at large are once again returning to the warm embrace of costumed Superheroes, with movies based on comic books generally becoming box office leaders. This trend, the resurgence of the popularity of Superheroes, may be a reflection of the current global economic crises. Clancy would agree citing “the comic book superhero came out of a context in which the political, social and economic realties were a little tough and we can certainly relate to those realities now in our own day” (2009).

Superheroes are back people and they are stronger than ever!

Until the next time “Milieunairs”!

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Earth Day – Our World, Our Future!

Today is Earth Day, 22 April 2009, the global event which celebrates our beautiful world by acknowledging the fact that we need to keep our planet healthy for now and, more importantly, for future generations. It is a day in which “People from across the world come together to reduce waste, recycle, plant trees, and promote awareness about the environment and what we can do for it” (Ben Parr, 2009). Coincidentally, Earth Day 2009 falls on the same day as the 2009 South African “free and fair” democratic elections.

As a matter of fact, everyday is Earth Day. Why should only one day a year be dedicated to the protection of the only known planet capable of supporting life? Our planet. Without the Earth we would simply cease to exist. As a result it is incredibly important that we, the human race, take steps to protect our world, the only habitable world in our solar system capable of supporting organic carbon based life forms.

 

To find out more about Earth Day I Googled the cause as well as our planet. To my surprise, and in true Google fashion, I noticed that Google had created a new ‘doodle’ specifically for Earth Day. I think it is brilliant and just one of the many reasons why Google is still so cool. I had to screen capture it for you all, just in case someone missed it. Anyway, I eventually came across this very cool website with immensely interesting facts about our planet. Some of the information was so interesting that I could not resist reproducing it here on my blog, all for you of course.

 
Interesting facts about our planet, Earth (Universe Today, 2009):
  • Earth is almost a perfect sphere
    The Earth’s shape could be described as an oblate spheroid. It’s kind of like a sphere, but the Earth’s rotation causes the equator to bulge out . What this means is that the measurement from pole to pole is about 43 km less than the diameter of Earth across the equator.
  • 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water
    When astronauts first went into the space, they looked back at the Earth with human eyes for the first time, and called our home the Blue Planet. And it’s no surprise. 70% of our planet is covered with oceans. The remaining 30% is the solid ground, rising above sea level.
  • The Earth’s atmosphere extends out to 10,000 km
    The atmosphere is thickest within the first 50 km or so, but it actually reaches out to about 10,000 km above the surface of the planet. This outermost layer of the atmosphere is called the exosphere, and starts about 500 km above the surface of the Earth. As we said, it goes all the way up to 10,000 km above the surface. At this point, free-moving particles can actually escape the pull of Earth’s gravity, and be blown away by
    the Sun’s solar wind. But this high atmosphere is extremely thin. The bulk of the Earth’s atmosphere is down near the Earth itself. In fact, 75% of the Earth’s atmosphere is contained within the first 11 km above the planet’s surface.
  • Earth has 1 moon and 2 co-orbital satellites
    As you’re probably aware, Earth has 1 moon (
    The Moon). But did you know there are 2 additional asteroids locked into a co-orbital orbits with Earth? They’re called 3753 Cruithne and 2002 AA29. We won’t go into too much detail about the Moon, I’m sure you’ve heard all about it. 3753 Cruithne is 5 km across, and sometimes called Earth’s second moon. It doesn’t actually orbit the Earth, but has a synchronized orbit with our home planet. It has an orbit that makes it look like it’s following the Earth in orbit, but it’s actually following its own, distinct path around the Sun. 2002 AA29 is only 60 meters across, and makes a horseshoe orbit around the Earth that brings it close to the planet every 95 years. In about 600 years, it will appear to circle Earth in a quasi-satellite orbit. Scientists have suggested that it might make a good target for a space exploration mission.

Who knew about the two ‘co-orbital’ satellites? I sure did not know. The Earth is amazing hey? Disney seems to think so too. Walt Disney studios have produced, via ‘Disneynature’ (I wonder when they created this subsidiary?), a movie called Earth, which is supposed to have been released today. Apparently the movie follows three different animal families (polar bears, elephants, and whales) on their journeys across the planet and is supposed to serve as a reminder of how precious life on Earth is.

I also came across this rather concise and informative video, which explains what Earth Day is about. I embedded the video with a green border just for Earth Day! You know you love it! Besides, I am cool that way *geeky snigger*.

 

Learn About Earth Day

 

There are many ways to help our Earth, least of all trying to reduce your carbon footprint – checkout Louisa’s post on Earth Day, she uploaded a rather funny comic strip about carbon foot prints. Needless to say I am already reducing my carbon foot print, albeit temporarily. How? Well, you all know I broke my arm ‘right’? Well, because of that I will not be driving for the next eight weeks. I will also be eating less, since I cannot exercise, and thus I will be expelling less gas… well, that is debatable *smirks dryly*.

Until the next time “Milieunairs”!