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It wasn’t a drill

I didn’t think too much about it when I saw the fire boat off Sugar Beach this morning.

Even when I saw all of the other activity, I figured it was a drill. Sadly, no. A man around 30 years old drowned, apparently after  drinking on the beach, then jumping in for a skinny dip. The body was recovered very quickly, but too late. [CBC News story]

Doxed by skids

The guy who found the kill switch to disable WannaCry ransomware has been identified and described by tabloids. They nosed around his internet trail and served up irrelevant details about his age and liking for pizza.

Finding out and publishing everything you can about your target subject is called doxing (derived from documenting … publishing your docs).

The WannaCry hero would have preferred privacy. He tweeted that he might have expected to be doxed by skids (script kiddies … unskilled, immature hackers), not journalists.

As if tabloids were journalism.

Urban Dictionary delivers several other definitions for skids, all aimed at youth (kids) and all negative. You don’t want to be called a skid.

A Mother’s Day post

My mother, Helen Andersen, died in 1995 but she’s still my mother. She made this painting of an elder First Nations woman wearing a labret (lip plug) and a nose ring. I have it in my studio.

There is much stir in the news about cultural appropriation and I think Helen has something to say about it. She knew how to work with Indigenous People as subjects, without copying anyone else’s style. When she included Haida motifs, she did so to show us the subject she was dealing with and she never imitated slavishly.

For example, above you see two pieces about a mother parting with her daughter, who is being sent away to residential school … a subject Helen rendered repeatedly. In the background, we see appropriate use of cultural motifs, as Helen shows what the little girl is leaving behind … not only the comfort of her mother’s love, but her land and her whole culture.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with “appropriating” cultural motifs in this way, as First Nations artists would be the first to understand. It is objectionable to make fake copies and pass them off as equivalents to original works. Think black plastic totem poles, made in Japan, for sale to tourists at the Vancouver airport.

This is a very brief comment on a very large, complex issue, but hey, it’s Mother’s Day. I’ll probably return to the topic, later.

 

Iconic everything

Here’s a resource I want to share and keep handy for my own use. The Noun Project offers about a million icons made by members of the global community. Free to download, raster or vector, with Creative Commons licensing.

Naturally, I searched for Toronto. Not bad! I’m only showing you some of them. Can you recognize our iconic buildings? I think the Robarts Library might be the toughest one. Or maybe St. Lawrence Market.

How high is a hoodoo?

I could just send you to this interesting story about a 110 million year old dinosaur find, with evidence of skin and soft tissue preserved … but that story led me to remember Alberta’s badland hoodoos.

In the 1970s, before computer graphics, ad agency people were always on the prowl for novel, spectacular product settings. National Geographic pictures of the Drumheller hoodoo formations made art directors salivate.

What if we stuck cars and trucks on top of those? Headlines about timeless beauty, endurance, majesty. Double-page mag ads. Billboards, catalog covers. Yummy.

A few layouts later, a crew of producers, photographers, directors and assistants had client approval to head West.

A week later, they were back in the office … budget blown, empty-handed. Nobody had thought to ask how big those natural wonders were.

Not quite the towering monuments everyone depicts with their photographs. Even if they were as huge as they look in pictures, they are made of crumbly sandstone that would never support a car.

Persistent pursuit

My sister Joni managed to find an image of the Gord Smith sculpture mentioned below … the one that stood in front of the Canada Pavilion at Expo ’67.

Left: Joni’s find. Background is Expo ’67’s “The People Tree” Right: Upper, a study for the piece. Below. Attempt to unclutter the background.

It’s funny how we worry that our digital culture will vanish as formats disappear and pixels go poof. We can’t even preserve a 110 foot wide, steel sculpture for 50 years. Gord Smith’s Canada Screen vanished in much less than that. Installed in 1967, it was gone by 1972.

Here’s the site where Joni tracked down the photo. I wonder if Gord Smith has a better one.

[Update] Yes, Gord’s site DOES have better pictures of the Canada Screen and he says thanks, Joni, for finding the other one.

Fifty years after Canada’s 100th birthday

I was searching for images of the Gord Smith sculpture that once stood in front of the Canadian Pavilion at Expo ’67. It was 110 feet wide and 12 feet tall! The gumment (wrongfully) scrapped it after the site was dismantled.

No luck finding the sculpture picture, but two gems did appear. First, this painful puff piece for Expo ’67, when the word eskimo was still in use and we celebrated “the conquest of our natural environment” and “the victory of Man over Nature”.

19 minutes   Some skipping along through is recommended.


The other gem is Chief Dan George’s Lament for Confederation, as relevant today as it was half a century ago.

Here’s a still from it, with a quote …

The video runs about 6 minutes.