Saturday, July 13, 2013

Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award: Jack Andraka

Clearly, my days spent ditching class and playing tennis in the public park across the street from my high school were not as well spent as I've enjoyed believing.

Meet Jack Andraka: A high school sophomore won the youth achievement Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award for inventing a new method to detect a lethal cancer...

It’s first period digital arts class, and the assignment is to make Photoshop monsters. Sophomore Jack Andraka considers crossing a velociraptor with a Brazilian wandering spider, while another boy grafts butterfly wings onto a rhinoceros. Meanwhile, the teacher lectures on the deranged genius of Doctor Moreau and Frankenstein, “a man who created something he didn’t take responsibility for.” 
“You don’t have to do this, Jack!” somebody in back shouts. 
The silver glint of a retainer: Andraka grins. Since he won the $75,000 grand prize at this past spring’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, one of the few freshman ever to do so, he’s become a North County High School celebrity to rival any soccer star or homecoming queen. A series of jokes ensue about Andraka’s mad scientist doings in the school’s imaginary “dungeon” laboratory. In reality, Andraka created his potentially revolutionary pancreatic cancer detection tool at nearby Johns Hopkins University, though he does sometimes tinker in a small basement lab at the family’s house in leafy Crownsville, Maryland, where a homemade particle accelerator crowds the foosball table.... [Read the rest HERE]

Malala Yousafzai, Girl Shot by Taliban, Addresses the U.N.


Honourable UN Secretary General Mr Ban  Ki-moon, respected president of the General Assembly  Vuk Jeremic,  honourable UN envoy for global education  Mr Gordon Brown, respected elders and my dear brothers and sisters: Assalamu alaikum.

Today is it an honour for me to  be speaking again after a long time. Being here with such honourable people is a great moment in my life and it is an honour for me that today I am wearing a shawl of the late Benazir Bhutto. I don’t know where to begin my speech. I don’t know what people would be expecting me to say, but first of all thank you to God for whom we all are equal and thank you to every person who has prayed for my fast recovery and new life. I cannot believe how much love people have shown me. I have received thousands of good-wish cards and gifts from all over the world. Thank you to all of them. Thank you to the children whose innocent words encouraged me. Thank you to my elders whose prayers strengthened me. I would like to thank my nurses, doctors and the staff of the hospitals in Pakistan and the UK and the UAE government who have helped me to get better and recover my strength.

I fully support UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his Global Education First Initiative and the work of UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown and the respectful president of the UN General Assembly Vuk Jeremic. I thank them for the leadership they continue to give. They continue to inspire all of us to action. Dear brothers and sisters, do remember one thing: Malala Day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights.

There are hundreds of human rights activists and social workers who are not only speaking for their rights, but who are struggling to achieve their goal of peace, education and equality. Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions have been injured. I am just one of them. So here I stand, one girl among many. I speak not for myself, but so those without a voice can be heard. Those who have fought for their rights. Their right to live in peace. Their right to be treated with dignity. Their right to equality of opportunity. Their right to be educated.

Dear friends, on 9 October 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends, too. They thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed. And out of that silence came thousands of voices. The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions. But nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born. I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. And my dreams are the same. Dear sisters and brothers, I am not against anyone. Neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group. I am here to speak for the right of education for every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists. I do not even hate the Talib who shot me.

Even if there was a gun in my hand and he was standing in front of me, I would not shoot him. This is the compassion I have learned from Mohamed, the prophet of mercy, Jesus Christ and Lord Buddha. This the legacy of change I have inherited from Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

This is the philosophy of nonviolence that I have learned from Gandhi, Bacha Khan and Mother Teresa. And this is the forgiveness that I have learned from my father and from my mother. This is what my soul is telling me: be peaceful and love everyone.

Dear sisters and brothers, we realise the importance of light when we see darkness. We realise the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way, when we were in Swat, the north of Pakistan, we realised the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns. The wise saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” It is true. The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them. This is why they killed 14 innocent students in the recent attack in Quetta. And that is why they kill female teachers. That is why they are blasting schools every day because they were and they are afraid of change and equality that we will bring to our society. And I remember that there was a boy in our school who was asked by a journalist: “Why are the Taliban against education?”He answered very simply by pointing to his book, he said: “A Talib doesn’t know what is written inside this book.”

They think that God is a tiny, little conservative being who would point guns at people’s heads just for going to school. These terrorists are misusing the name of Islam for their own personal benefit. Pakistan is a peace-loving, democratic country. Pashtuns want education for their daughters and sons. Islam is a religion of peace, humanity and brotherhood. It is the duty and responsibility to get education for each child, that is what it says. Peace is a necessity for education. In many parts of the world, especially Pakistan and Afghanistan, terrorism, war and conflicts stop children from going to schools. We are really tired of these wars. Women and children are suffering in many ways in many parts of the world.

In India, innocent and poor children are victims of child labour. Many schools have been destroyed in Nigeria. People in Afghanistan have been affected by extremism. Young girls have to do domestic child labour and are forced to get married at an early age. Poverty, ignorance, injustice, racism and the deprivation of basic rights are the main problems, faced by both men and women.

Today, I am focusing on women’s rights and girls’ education because they are suffering the most. There was a time when women activists asked men to stand up for their rights. But this time we will do it by ourselves. I am not telling men to step away from speaking for women’s rights, but I am focusing on women to be independent and fight for themselves. So dear sisters and brothers, now it’s time to speak up. So today, we call upon the world leaders to change their strategic policies in favour of peace and prosperity. We call upon the world leaders that all of these deals must protect women and children’s rights. A deal that goes against the rights of women is unacceptable.

We call upon all governments to ensure free, compulsory education all over the world for every child. We call upon all the governments to fight against terrorism and violence. To protect children from brutality and harm. We call upon the developed nations to support the expansion of education opportunities for girls in the developing world. We call upon all communities to be tolerant, to reject prejudice based on caste, creed, sect, colour, religion or agenda to ensure freedom and equality for women so they can flourish. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back. We call upon our sisters around the world to be brave, to embrace the strength within themselves and realise their full potential.

Dear brothers and sisters, we want schools and education for every child’s bright future. We will continue our journey to our destination of peace and education. No one can stop us. We will speak up for our rights and we will bring change to our voice. We believe in the power and the strength of our words. Our words can change the whole world because we are all together, united for the cause of education. And if we want to achieve our goal, then let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.

Dear brothers and sisters, we must not forget that millions of people are suffering from poverty and injustice and ignorance. We must not forget that millions of children are out of their schools. We must not forget that our sisters and brothers are waiting for a bright, peaceful future.

So let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first. Thank you.

"If a 14-year-old girl living in Pakistan can be so bold as to stand up to a fanatical group of men that seems to hate women and despise freedom, then Americans can just as easily express their beliefs in a democracy where we have that freedom." -- from blogger Jailynn Zenger, 18 October 2012 at I~COMM STUDENT MEDIA

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Leonard Cohen "The partisan" Live on french TV 1969 - Présenté par Joe Dassin

"The Partisan"

When they poured across the border
I was cautioned to surrender,
this I could not do;
I took my gun and vanished.
I have changed my name so often,
I've lost my wife and children
but I have many friends,
and some of them are with me.

An old woman gave us shelter,
kept us hidden in the garret,
then the soldiers came;
she died without a whisper.

There were three of us this morning
I'm the only one this evening
but I must go on;
the frontiers are my prison.

Oh, the wind, the wind is blowing,
through the graves the wind is blowing,
freedom soon will come;
then we'll come from the shadows.

Les Allemands étaient chez moi, (The Germans were at my home)
ils me dirent, "Signe toi," (They said, "Sign yourself,")
mais je n'ai pas peur; (But I am not afraid)
j'ai repris mon arme. (I have retaken my weapon.)

J'ai changé cent fois de nom, (I have changed names a hundred times)
j'ai perdu femme et enfants (I have lost wife and children)
mais j'ai tant d'amis; (But I have so many friends)
j'ai la France entière. (I have all of France)

Un vieil homme dans un grenier (An old man, in an attic)
pour la nuit nous a caché, (Hid us for the night)
les Allemands l'ont pris; (The Germans captured him)
il est mort sans surprise. (He died without surprise.)

The Arms of Regina

Oh, the wind, the wind is blowing,
through the graves the wind is blowing,
freedom soon will come;
then we'll come from the shadows.

This transcription is an improvisation!
And the Holston river sparkles in the moonlight
And the Holston river [door slams] rushes to the sea.
Well the British (?) mountain towers o'r the valley
Still the arms of Regina reach for me.
Ten years ago i tried to save the president (?) [hummm humm...]
[ta da da da ta da da da da run (?????)]
[ah ?? ???? ??? ???? the arms of Regina]
And on her robe I could not tell a lie [?]
I've worked and slaved to be a rock mount [???][spanish ship?]
And the Brushy Mountain (p)imitates your eee[??]
Now I'm a going back to see Regina

and a [?????] (we need you)
[?????] ...memory
Still the Holston valley sparkles in the moonlight (sunlight)
Still the Holston river rushes to the sea
Still the Planeish(?) mountain towers o'r the valley
Still the arms of Regina reach for me.
(let's do that once again)
Still the Holston valley sparkles in the moon light
Still the Holston river rushes through the sea
Still the Plainish mountain towers o'r the valley
Still the arms of Regina reach for me
Still the arms of Regina reach for me...
(let's get out of here...)
Let's get out of this place (hum hum hum), What are we..

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Wonderful Video of Ashley's Life, and a Final Message From Her

Hi... to no readers!

I've had to turn off access to the blog due to spamming.  While I get that pornographic irritation taken care of (hmm, there has GOT to be a better way to say that!), I get to write midst the sense of being in a silent Marlinspike Hall, where every footstep begins the ring of a circling echo.  It's empty here...

Ashley Riemer was such a vibrant person, so on the cusp of her transition to independent adulthood... remember how hard and how wonderful that time was in our lives?  She deserves so much credit for -- how to say this?  For becoming a beautiful adult all while being exactly where and what she is, damn, where and what she *was*.

My temporal confusion, at least in this matter, comes from this video (and another series of her memorial service -- she donated her body to the Georgetown Med School for research, bless her!).

The videographers  added a short recordingAshley made to be her "final words," and they are moving words that left me feeling Ashley as very much "here and now."

[Points to anyone who knows what song is playing in my head!  Something about a breeze... a donegal breeze.  (Teachers always give big ass hints.)  Of course, these lyrics are the ones that come to my mind, a mind very different from Ashley's, from her parents.  Always, always being and feeling à rebours, I am.]

Ashley Riemer's Video of her life uploaded to YouTube by Tammy Dennison (at whose channel you can also see the three videos of Ashley's Memorial Service)

With your dark hair in the donegal breeze,
Bringing me softly and sweetly to the ground,
But, there's madness in the sycamore trees,
And there's no salvation to be found.

Right now the only thing that my mind ever holds,
Are long dark silences or screaming that explodes,
Burning rocking beds with visions of a land,
Long dark tunnels, questions and calm,
But, with you, you know I have no doubts,
And fear will have no sting,
With your brilliant eyes and your lost and broken wing,
My head upon your shoulder as you take me in your arms,
Continents will crumble, we will find no harm.

With your dark hair in the donegal breeze,
Bringing me softly and sweetly to the ground,
But, there's madness in the sycamore trees,
And there's no salvation to be found.

Well I'll brace myself against the dark, endeavour to go on,
No matter how long it takes, and even though I might be wrong,
And I will ask a little favour of whatever God I find,
And I will come back for you darling, when I find some peace of mind.

Well I don't know about tomorrow, it will be here and gone,
I don't know about tonight, it'll be too long,
Sometimes I think I'm dying, and I don't care how,
All I know is that I want you, and I want you here and now.

With your dark hair in the donegal breeze,
Bringing me softly and sweetly to the ground,
But, there's madness in the sycamore trees,
And there's no salvation to be found.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

the one where all the cats fart

i absolutely cannot see to write with this gas mask on, so i'll just copy an email from earlier in the day.  they say nothing is ever really removed from the internet, and for that i feel most appreciative, as this may be my last missive to the world.  sure, it starts off discussing sporting events in a carefree tone, but that's just me, being brave, and setting a strong example for the domestic staff, especially young cabana boy and la bonne et belle bianca castafiore', who refuses to wear the gas mask in preference for a thick hijab, topped by a wet bandana that has also been liberally spritzed with some sort of vanilla after-shower body spray.  fred?  fred is ASLEEP.  i kissed him softly on his broad forehead and promised to meet up in the afterlife.

andy murray beat my beloved djokovic -- the brits must be going ape shit.  

and i couldn't watch because i cannot see the freaking ball.  sniff.

on paper, this wimbledon looks to be a brave new world, all topsy-turvy.

i really do love novak... he's hilarious.  as for andy, i confess to thinking him permanently jinxed, forever a quarter finalist, or if further advanced, a practitioner of my favorite tennis art form -- the "choke."

did you watch?  and you've said nary a mot about the tour de france.  now, when i see any reference to that little bike race, i automatically yell "eff you, lance!" another weird habit to extinguish.

you'd love this.  you'd love to photograph this!  about two days ago, being as perceptive and sensitive as i am, i noted that both dobby and buddy were farting in my direction with great abandon.  i chose to ignore it -- gag, cough, gag -- and was glad that marmy currently doesn't hang with me.

yesterday morning, the two farters worked in fine-tuned tandem fashion to wake me the hell up.  thinking they were hungry, i rolled toward the kitchen.  marmy joined us.  the three of them normally assume a rotating shark pattern rotation as i fill their food bowls but yesterday, they all went and milled anxiously around the top of the wheelchair ramp, occasionally drifting about halfway down, then hustling back.  clearly perturbed by something in the back -- a sudden washer/dryer paranoia, a lion crouching under hank's work bench?

i ain't afeared of no machinery and the lion reference was pure hyperbole, so i headed back there, noting that the three cats were making the sign of the cross and remaining kitchen-bound.

two giant freaking pit bulls sitting on our screened-in back porch.  you know, the screened-in back porch that used to have a DOOR leading to the backyard?  both had their noses pressed against the glass of the back door to the house, not realizing, I guess, that they could probably break that one down, too.

so, both belong to our mower-obsessed neighbor, richard.  he keeps four pit bulls in separate runs in his pristine backyard, carefully maintained (dogs, runs, and yard).  very detail oriented, it would kill richard to know he had two escapees.  he and his family don't socialize with the dogs -- no play,  no walks, they are there for protection of property purposes alone.  this has bothered us enormously -- but he has provided them with pals, obedience training {rolling of the eyes}, and high end shelter.

well, he has one escapee who is just so darned charismatic and cute that he talked his compatriot into the adventure.  we call this young mr. smooth "scooby-doo" because he does a great impression.  when he barks at us, we feel like we're in a comic strip, and he nearly wags himself to death.  his older friend, however, appears to be feeling poorly, and hank (my eyes) tells me he has flies congregating on a spot on his back -- not a good sign.  he's also itchy -- scratching a lot, and looking punk and miserable.

the two centers of the feline universe are their habitual feeding location (kitchen) and the litter box alley (in the back, with the washer and dryer and fred's tools, etc. -- you know, the area that oversees the back porch, now pit bull territory.

hence all the farting, funny knock-kneed walking about, dilated pupils, and insistence that i get the hell up and DO SOMETHING.  

fred was not feeling great and after going to bed with the sunrise, got up around 3 pm.  while waiting for his input, i at least managed to move one of the litter boxes out of the direct line of sight of the terrifying behemoths and that solved the immediate problem.  in fact, once "relieved," buddy the outrageously large maine coon, went and pressed his nose to the glass on the back door, going eyeball to eyeball with the two huge dogs.  that's buddy for ya!  however, when scooby-doo greeted him with a resounding "uh-woof?" -- buddy flew to the kitchen to give report to the feline cohort huddled beside the refrigerator.

they are still there.  the dogs, i mean.  (richard and family are apparently out of town for the holiday weekend)  i caved and put some water out but they must be going back and forth as they showed no interest, just acknowledging my intrusion onto their doorless screened-in back porch with some soft "uh-woof?"s.  (punctuation rules requested)

will keep you posted.  fred is still sleeping.  am i being punked.  is this groundhog day, the movie, part 46?

i caught sight of a glint in my beloved's eye last night.  he wants 'em.  

he ain't gonna have 'em.  
1.  they "belong" to richard.
2.  constipation sufficient to raise the terror alert status would rapidly ensue, and i would die, not from crps or a bone infection, but from cat fart poisoning.

hope you are well.  i loves ya!  see ya in heaven if ya make the list!