A moving tribute

It's apparent that newspapers as a medium of printed information are undergoing a dramatic transformation. At the end of February, I mused about the state of the business (see "Are newspapers facing extinction?").  Now, I'm getting nostalgic.

As a teenager, I used to enjoy reading newspapers from all over the world. Some of my fondest memories revolve around leisurely mornings with a pile of newspapers and a coffee.

Our world has changed. We now have so much free information at our fingertips that the concept of newspapers on printed sheets of paper seems a little anachronistic.

Recently, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, to remain in business, decided to shut down its print edition after 146 years on the streets. The paper now is available only online, and the transition isn't easy: many people are mourning the inked version.

As a former resident of the Seattle area, I followed the story with some interest.  On the final day of the paper, the staff at the Post-Intelligencer put together a visual essay that is really worth watching.  It gives you a sense of how journalists feel connected to their city and to their readers.  Journalism is as much a passion and a craft as it is a profession.  See Farewell to the P-I.  
It's interesting right to the end and provides a living document of the connection between a newspaper and a community.

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Teddy Roosevelt still inspires

If you're ever feeling down, you should read some of the speeches and phrases of Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States and one of the most energetic figures in history.

Here's a quotation I ran across the other day, courtesy of my friends at 602 Communications. It's from a speech he gave in Paris in 1910 at the Sorbonne University. I find it stirring and inspirational. I hope you do, too:

"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better . The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

Photos are courtesy of the United States Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons
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McGill women's hockey team wins Canadian university title for the second year in a row

My wife and I returned the other day from Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where we watched the McGill Martlets capture the Canadian university women's hockey title for a second straight year.  The Montreal team capped off a perfect 36-0 season with a 3-1 win over second-seeded Wilfrid Laurier University.

This team, coached by Peter Smith, has been a joy to watch, successfully defending the Canadian university crown the group secured last year in Ottawa.

I'm a proud parent of one of the players: our daughter Lisa has been with the team for three great seasons. 

Here she is on the left of the photo, with Charline LaBonte', the McGill goaltender and national team member, who is on her way to Finland to play at the world hockey championships, starting April 4th.  Another team member, Catherine Ward, is also competing for Team Canada at the tournament.

For more on the university finals, see this article.

In the U.S., pocket technology is messing with court procedures

Mobile phones and personal digital assistants like Blackberries and iPhones are creating big problems in American courts, the New York Times reports.

It appears some jurors can't resist going on-line to do research in the middle of trials. This is exasperating judges, lawyers and defendants.

The paper says mistrials have been declared in some high-profile cases because jurors have violated instructions from judges. 

Pocket technology appears to be undermining the judicial process, a process that was developed over hundreds of years and that functions on the basis of clear rules of evidence.

You can read all the details in the New York Times' article: "As Jurors Turn to Web, Mistrials Are Popping Up."

A sign of the times

I hope you like this little cartoon.
Today marks the beginning of an occasional collaboration that we will sign "Arpi." Little vignettes like this are a fun way to practice drawing skills.
The Window of Opportunity sketch was also an Arpi exercise.
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Mind-blowing research on the frontiers of physics

Increasingly, scientists seem to be arriving at the conclusion that our world is an illusion. By this I mean that our three-dimensional view of the world is only the way we perceive the world, not the way the world really is.

It's all quite mind-boggling. This week, I read an article in Scientific American magazine that traces the work that's been done by physicists in this area since the 1920s and 1930s. The article ("Was Einstein Wrong?: A Quantum Threat to Special Relativity") appears in the March issue.

What it comes down to is this: our concept of space and time is just one fraction of reality. When we see a glass on a table, it's an illusion to think that the molecules of the glass exist only in a chain that links them to each other in the physical space we see before us. The very same particles may in fact exist in several vastly distant places at the same time. And we don't mean atoms like sodium found in a glass of water and in the ocean. What's meant here is the very same particle. The very same particle in the glass can take on many forms at the same time .

Science in the quantum world shows us that we see only what we see, not what is. Everything, the glass, you and me, simply may be manifestations of a ripple in a universal energy field.

These conclusions are not just thought experiments, but mathematical equations.

The new way that scientists are looking at our reality postulates, for example, that it may be possible to travel at speeds faster than the speed of light. This was unthinkable in the traditional world of physics. In quantum physics it means we could, in fact, receive a message before it was sent. In other words, time travel could be a reality not just a theory.

Our minds are slowly coming to terms with the concept that all existence is multi-dimensional and vastly more complex and fascinating than we ever imagined.

While Einstein once expressed his doubts about the uncertainty principles of quantum mechanics by saying, "God does not play dice," he privately worried quite a lot about the threat posed by the illusive nature of energy (both particle-like and wave-like at the same time). This duality concerned him because it calls into question our entire view of the measurable universe and the laws of physics as we know them. This duality cannot be dismissed.

Einstein may have been wrong not to embrace quantum mechanics publicly. And he may have been right about his worries and doubts, something the article's authors say is more proof of Einstein's genius.

For those of us whose minds are busy with the everyday issues of life on planet earth, these concepts have the potential to enrich our perspectives in amazing ways.

For related posts, see Intriguing possibilities in the convergence between science and spirituality and Are parallel universes real?

Thanks to Manu Mohan for the image above.
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Two popular characters

This is my tribute to artist Hugo Pratt: an interpretation of his most enduring character, Corto Maltese, a somewhat mysterious and laconic sailor with a penchant for helping the underdog. I saw this portrait somewhere on-line and felt compelled to draw this version of it.

For more on Corto Maltese, see this Wikipedia article or read my earlier post on February 9th.

And here is my version of another famous comic book character, Archie Andrews. From his first appearance in 1941, Archie has enjoyed remarkable longevity, demonstrating an enduring appeal that has attracted many generations of teenagers and pre-teens. Credit goes to a group of very talented artists and managers at Archie Comics. Together, they've found a way to keep the characters and the settings in the cartoon series looking modern and hip without diminishing the original uniqueness of the Archie gang and the story lines that link them together. You can get to know all of the characters at the Archie Comics site here.

When I drew this, I suddenly realized that he reminds me of my son and his friends. Archie is perpetually 17. As a reader in childhood, I always imagined him older. Now, as a father, I see the artists have pretty much got the image right. My son and his friends are 18 and the similarities are strong.

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Just some of the words and expressions we owe to Shakespeare

The other day, standing in the basement, I was leafing through one of the books we gave our children when they were still in elementary school. It happened to be a short illustrated biography of William Shakespeare. In a section at the back, I was astounded to learn how many of today's words and expressions were invented by the famous Elizabethan playwright, and how many are still in use today.

One expression that immediately jumped off the page is quite familiar to us and is applicable to the current global economic situation. That expression? "Sea change." We've heard it used in speeches and in the news to describe a profound transformation. The phrase is first spoken by Ariel in The Tempest:

"Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange."

Scholars believe about 1,700 words and expressions were invented by our friend, William. I find the list fascinating. Here's a sample:

every inch a king
too much of a good thing
bated breath
for goodness' sake
good riddance
to thine own self be true
in my mind's eye
in my heart of hearts
eaten me out of house and home
fair play

The list goes on and on.

Shakespeare also invented words to imitate the sounds of actions. And here are three examples that are in current use:


Almost four hundred years have passed since Shakespeare's death, and yet these phrases make him sound so modern! It must be one of the reasons behind his enduring appeal.

"Here we sit,
and let the sounds of music
creep in our ears."
(The Merchant of Venice, V. 1)

For more information about the words and expressions invented by the Bard, take a look at this page at "No Sweat Shakespeare."

Original source of information for this post was William Shakespeare and the Globe, written and illustrated by Aliki Brandenberg, 1999, New York, Harper Collins and Scholastic Books.

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