Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition

June 28, 2009

Saw this headline on the BBC News website:

US pastor opens church to guns

Now, I’m not anti-gun, per se, since I have in the past participated in the shooting sports (using small calibre target pistols owned by the club I was a member of; I don’t own any kind of firearms myself), but as far as I’m concerned, handguns belong only on shooting ranges (or safely transported in a locked case back to where they are kept in locked storage when not at the range).  In a public space like a church, though?  Nope, they don’t belong there — unloaded or not.

The BBC News article says:

“Pastor Ken Pagano told parishioners to bring their unloaded guns to New Bethel Church in Louisville for a service celebrating the right to bear arms.”

Apparently he did this in “an effort to promote safe gun ownership.”  The article goes on to quote a parishioner, Doreen Rogers, as saying to the Louisville Courier-Journal:

“For some reason, most people think that carrying guns is sinful. It’s not. I think my life is worth protecting.”

From that, I would conclude that Doreen’s gun was very likely not unloaded…

Fortunately, there seem to be more sensible folk in the area, as the BBC News article goes on to note:

A coalition of religious groups and campaigners held a rival gun-free event at the same time on the other side of Louisville.

“The idea of wearing guns to churches or any sacred space I think many people find deeply troubling,” organiser Terry Taylor told AP.



Headlines that make you go Strewth!

June 25, 2009

An interesting tidbit on the BBC News website from Down Under:

Stoned wallabies make crop circles

And I will let the article stand, er, walk unsteadily, that is, on its own with no further comment.

The Epic Awesomeness of Podcasters Across Borders 2009 – Part 2

June 24, 2009

For the explanation of the title of this post, go back to “Epic Awesomeness of PAB09 – Part 1“.  And to find out more about Podcasters Across Borders in general, go to the PAB website.

Epic Awesomeness #2

Two of the most awesome things about PAB, in any of the years that K and I have attended (2007, 2008 and now 2009 — we fall short of being “PAB Lifers” by just missing out on the inaugural PAB in 2006 because we found out about it too late 😦 ), have been the organizers of PAB — Bob Goyetche and Mark Blevis.

Bob and Mark do an amazing job of putting together a conference for the podcasting/social media community that just keeps on getting better every year — and if you don’t believe me, ask almost anyone who’s been to PAB.

OK, there may be the odd person or two who went away less than satisfied by the experience, but I doubt that I would need more than the fingers on one hand to count all of them, from all the PABs that have taken place.

I think I can call them pillars of the podcasting/social media community without much fear of contradiction — they collaborate regularly on the most excellent Canadian Podcast Buffet show, they are involved in organizing local meetups and Podcamps in Ottawa and Montréal, and they’re always willing to help out others with advice.

Organizing PAB is a tremendous effort, with myriad details to attend to as well as difficult choices to make in selecting who will present each year.  And they do all this while keeping the cost to attendees amazingly low and without taking any profit from the event — the registration fee is an absolute bargain for what you get: a day and a half crammed full of presentations (actually two full days if you can make it there for Friday afternoon, when there’s generally a workshop/technical session — this year it was presented by Paul Lyzun on video techniques with consumer camcorders; we didn’t arrive in time to catch the whole session, but what we did see was quite interesting), a buffet lunch on Saturday, a boat cruise and the opportunity to connect face-to-face with other members of the community.

And of course, it would be remiss of me to not also thank Mark’s wife Andrea (with whom he does the Just One More Book!! podcast) and Bob’s wife Cat (with whom he does The CatFish Show podcast) who not only lend moral support to them but also put in a lot of behind the scenes efforts to make PAB happen.

Let me just close by saying how glad I am to count them among my friends…  here are pictures of them I took at PAB09:

The Epic Awesomeness of Podcasters Across Borders 2009 – Part 1

June 23, 2009

Got back from Podcasters Across Borders 2009 (hereinafter PAB09) Sunday evening and wanted to go over some of the weekend while it was still fresh in my mind.  This was going to be one long post, but given the speed with which I compose entries, I realized it was going to need to be a multi-post affair.

And the post’s title?  It refers to the closing presentation by Tod Maffin, which was called “Twenty Sixteen Moments of Epic Awesomeness” (in a sequence of events involving mosquitoes, changing hotels, internet connection at said new hotel going down 5 minutes after arriving, Tod had to cut it down from 20 to 16…) and “Epic Awesomeness” seemed appropriate to apply to PAB09 since it was definitely filled with many moments of Epic Awesomeness (now, K tells me “awesome” is used far too often on the web these days and that I should avoid using it, but I don’t want to set a dangerous precedent by doing what she tells me 😉 )

Epic Awesomeness #1

Friday night: keynote speaker Jowi Taylor addressed the PAB09 attendees, telling us about the Six String Nation project he founded.

PAB09 Voyageur closeup

PAB09 Voyageur closeup

The concept is wonderfully simple: create a uniquely Canadian guitar, made from materials with some cultural or historical significance, from all across our nation.  Then tour the guitar across Canada, telling the story of the making of the guitar itself, and the stories that go with the individual pieces that went into it.  Let people hold it, play it, have their picture taken with it — all for free — so that they will all get to know their country a little better and take some pride in its history, our achievements and our multi-cultural roots.

PAB09 Voyageur held by Rob & K

PAB09 Voyageur held by Rob & K

I can’t do the story of Voyageur, as the guitar has been named, or the Six String Nation project, justice — Jowi has released a book on it and I encourage you to support the project by buying it if you can, or if you can’t afford it, go get it from your library (submit a request for them to purchase copies if they haven’t already done so).

I can tell you that there were a whole lot of moist eyes and lump filled throats by the end of his presentation.  Here’s a few reasons why:

  • While Jowi did receive initial funding for the project from Mike Lazaridis of Research In Motion (RIM, the maker of the Blackberry™), Westerkirk Capital and The National Capital Commission, and has some tour specific and on-going sponsors (see the list on the Six String Nation website), but he’s also run up a substantial personal debt to keep the project going and to continue touring Voyageur across the country.  He’s been given the run-around by various government agencies who manage to pass the buck everywhere but where it would do some good — funding the project.
  • He recently asked a Toronto promoter to back the summer tour with $23,000 in funding and was told, because there is no charge for people who come to see Voyageur and get their photo taken, that he “had no business model” and that he should go pitch the project in the US, then come back to Canada when he’d been successful there.  The Canadians in the room were unsurprised but still dismayed at the promoter’s attitude; I’m not sure what the attendees from the US and elsewhere thought but it was probably a bit incomprehensible to them that we seem to place so little value on our heritage, our history and our culture.
  • Jowi told the story of the legendary Golden Spruce, a unique “albino” spruce tree on Haida Gwaii (a.k.a. the Queen Charlotte Islands) that was sacred to the Haida native people.  A paper products company with logging rights in the area had agreed to not cut down the Golden Spruce and to preserve a certain buffer zone of the forest surrounding it; they were still clear-cutting the forest outside that area on Haida Gwaii.  He went on to tell us about how one of the company’s employees, who worked in isolation out in the field marking which trees would be cut, became unhinged and decided that the company was hypocritical in leaving the area around the Golden Spruce protected while clear-cutting everywhere else.  He went told us how the man went out in the middle of the night with a chainsaw and cut the Golden Spruce down.  You could have heard a spruce needle drop in the room — everyone was in shock, reeling at the incomprehensibility of such an act.  The Haida decided that the Golden Spruce would be left where it had fallen, and never be cut up but left to return to the land.  After many meetings with the chief, Jowi was able to convince them to allow a small piece of the Golden Spruce to be harvested and used in the construction of the guitar — the wood from it forms the soundboard, the front face of the body.

There were lots more anecdotes, more than I can recall in detail, but after the presentation there was a “Q & A” session — a lot of the questions were about why the Canadian government wasn’t prepared to provide funding to sustain the project and allow Voyageur to be seen by Canadians all over the country.  And finally, Mark Blaseckie stood up and asked the question that was probably on the minds and in the hearts of most of the people in that room — he just asked “How can we help?”.

So all of us there agreed to use our social media connections to spread the word about the story of the Six String Nation project and the need for financial support to keep the project alive and Voyageur on the road — not in some museum, behind glass.  This is a piece of our history, our culture that exists to be held by everyday Canadians across our land and played by those who can.

There’s a PayPal donation button on the Six String Nation website that you can use to contribute — we certainly will be.

So, that’s Part 1 of The Epic Awesomeness of PAB09.  I will try to get some more of these out quickly while events are still fresh in my mind.