July 20, 2005

Festival Season

Ottawa festivals scenes
Somewhere between the fall's changing leaf colours, frosty Winterlude, and the spring's Tulip Festival, every season is festival season in Ottawa. But you can't beat the summer for the number and variety of festivals. Sparks Street's annual ribfest was one of the early ones before the music circuit (Jazz, Blues, Chamber) kicked in.
Ottawa [view large]

Ottawa festivals scenes
Ottawa [view large]

Ottawa festivals scenes
Ottawa [view large]

Ottawa festivals scenes
Dragonboat Race weekend at Mooney's Bay
Ottawa [view large]

Ottawa festivals scenes
Ottawa [view large]

Ottawa festivals scenes
Ombrelle serves up sunscreen -- neat idea, borrowing from what has traditionally been the domain of coffee and other beverage makers.
Ottawa [view large]

Posted by anatole at 04:59 AM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2005

On holidays ...

... for a couple of weeks, so the posting will be light (though hopefully not non-existent) until early August.

Posted by anatole at 04:21 AM | Comments (2)

July 12, 2005

Afterglow

Early evening glow on cattails
Cattails in a pond near the Canal glow in the early evening light.
Ottawa [view large]

Red-winged blackbird
Nobody loves the cattails more than the red-winged blackbirds.
Ottawa [view large]

Early evening glow on cattails
More reeds.
Ottawa [view large]

Early evening glow on cattails
Still more ...
Ottawa [view large]

Early evening glow on cattails
That time of day.
Ottawa [view large]

Early evening glow on cattails
Ottawa [view large]

Posted by anatole at 12:01 AM | Comments (7)

July 07, 2005

7/7

(c) The GuardianIt's harder to know where to begin today. I was at a workshop all morning and arrived at my office at about 1:00 p.m. I logged in and launched Firefox to read the globeandmail.com. I've been simultaneously enjoying the respite from the Parliament bash-a-thon and silently cursing the non-stop coverage of Karla Homolka.

I wasn't expecting "Terrorists attack London." My stomach turned. A colleague walked in a moment later and asked how the workshop went. When I asked if he had seen the news (not realizing at that point any of the details or how "fresh" the news was), he replied that people seemed desensitized and were talking about it far less than 9/11.

I don't feel desensitized today, I feel shaken. Shaken, upset, horrified, appalled, disgusted, angry, sad, and, of course, helpless and vulnerable -- even after New York, Madrid, Bali, Turkey, Moscow, Beslan, Yemen, Riyadh, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel again and again, and more.

At the same time I wish I were more surprised. I've never for a moment felt reassured that increased domestic security and the offensive elements of the war on terrorism could prevent all further attacks. Moreover, I always wondered why terrorist networks didn't resort to simpler measures. Even today they (al Qaeda?!) did not, really. While 9/11 was particularly "spectacular", the well-coordinated transit attacks in Madrid and now London demonstrate a disturbingly persistent capability.

Still, these attacks are closer to the kind of small-scale terrorist attacks that are much more difficult to defend against. During the Beltway Sniper's siege on D.C./Baltimore/Virginia in late 2002, a professor of mine noted that groups like al Qaeda were learning an important lesson -- no elaborate scheme was necessary to inspire fear. For several weeks, two men had shut down schools, affected commerce and travel, and generally terrorized (despite officials' best efforts to avoid using the word "terror" at the time) several cities and states using a car and a rifle.

None of this is encouraging -- not what happened today, nor the many missteps in the war on terror, nor what is likely to come in the future. There is no obvious solution for how to thoroughly defend the kinds of societies many of us have the good fortune to live in. You can walk right up to the Opera House in Sydney and to the Parliament building here in Ottawa, halfway around the world. Our greatest weakness -- that we are vulnerable -- is also our greatest strength: that we are free in this way and in many others. On Canada Day (July 1), I took a tour of our Supreme Court, and a guard who was running bags through scanners but declined to have us turn out our pockets for cell phones and the like said jovially "We'll take our chances today." Indeed, we take our chances every day, but we must never take for granted -- rather, we must strive to protect and share -- the opportunity we have to take those chances. In a defiant statement to the attackers, London Mayor Ken Livingstone said:

"In the days that follow look at our airports, look at our sea ports and look at our railway stations and, even after your cowardly attack, you will see that people from the rest of Britain, people from around the world will arrive in London to become Londoners and to fulfil their dreams and achieve their potential.

They choose to come to London, as so many have come before because they come to be free, they come to live the life they choose, they come to be able to be themselves. They flee you because you tell them how they should live. They don't want that and nothing you do, however many of us you kill, will stop that flight to our city where freedom is strong and where people can live in harmony with one another. Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail."

How very tragic that Londoners were torn so brutally from an Olympian celebration of their city.

How very odd that just a few days ago London competed against New York, Madrid, and Moscow -- all recent victims of brutal, abhorrent attacks -- and now the cities and their nations and their leaders stand together, in empathy and resolve, and declare solidarity.

And how very, very silly that we were preoccupied with the latest English-French snub (Chirac's ridiculous comments on British, and Finnish, cuisine) while somewhere there were fanatics planning to murder innocent Londoners and their guests in their city.

As the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, said, borrowing from a message that resonated around the world on 9/11: "Today, we are all Londoners."

Posted by anatole at 11:55 PM | Comments (0)

July 04, 2005

Happy Fourth of July ... and a cosmic hole-in-one

Early in 2005, I wrote, quoting liberally from a neat article in Slate, about the clinical aerospace ju-jitsu required to get Cassini-Huygens to Saturn's moon Titan.

Today, on July 4 (happy fourth of July, U.S. readers!), NASA hit a comet with a probe. Let that sink in for a moment. The comet, Tempel 1, is about half the size of Manhattan and was travelling at 37,000 km per hour when it hit the probe, about the size of a coffee table, which had been launched from a larger vessel and maneuvered itself into position -- meaning directly into the path of the oncoming comet -- using its own jets. The probe's impact left a crater "anywhere from the size of a large house to a football stadium and between two and 14 storeys deep" (Globe and Mail). The impact probe snapped photos as late as 3 seconds before impact, and the larger launching vessel carried on shooting with a close fly-by of the impact and aftermath. The mission, launched back in January when Cassini-Huygens was approaching Titan, was named Deep Impact -- apparently only coincidentally matching the movie of the same name and subject matter.

No matter how you slice it, this was an unbelievable feat (representatives of the ESA readily admitted as such). And NASA definitely gets extra style points for nailing the impact on the July 4 holiday. Now that is integrated communications planning.

What's the upshot of all this? After a series of high-profile disasters (e.g. Challenger, Columbia) and uber-expensive failures (e.g. European Mars probe), the unbelievable, thread-the-needle dual successes of Cassini-Huygens and Deep Impact may allow space science and exploration to recapture the imaginations of generations young and old.

For more information: NASA Deep Impact site
Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD

Posted by anatole at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)

July 03, 2005

The Colour Red: Scenes from Canada Day in Ottawa

Canada Day
Flag bearing and red hat-totin'.
Ottawa [view large]

Canada Day
The incredible snowbirds.
Ottawa [view large]

Canada Day
CHEO bears love Canada Day!
Ottawa [view large]

Canada Day
Parliament Hill, between the morning and evening concerts.
Ottawa [view large]

Canada Day
You can't really wear too many Canadian flags on Canada Day.
Ottawa [view large]

Canada Day
Patriotic maternity styles, anyone?
Ottawa [view large]

Canada Day
As my sweetie said: Bagpipes, drums, and didgeridoo -- together at last.
Ottawa [view large]

Canada Day
Quintessential Canada Day scene: happy revellers, lots of flags and red-and-white, noise-makers, a bare chest, and, of course, a cell phone.
Ottawa [view large]

Canada Day
Year after year, I'm "pickin' chicken".
Ottawa [view large]

Canada Day
An early evening glow falls on the gathering crowd at Major's Hill Park.
Ottawa [view large]

Canada Day
Throngs of people crowd through a narrow strait by the Chateau Laurier.
Ottawa [view large]

Canada Day
The bigger the better.
Ottawa [view large]

Canada Day
Last act -- Kate and Anna McGarrigle -- at the Major's Hill Park main stage.
Ottawa [view large]

Canada Day
Fireworks! They were really stunning this year.
Ottawa [view large]

Canada Day
A neat visual effect from those fireworks that crackle.
Ottawa [view large]

Canada Day
Happy Canada Day!
Ottawa [view large]

I took many more photos than are shown above, and I've selected a slightly larger subset for your extended viewing pleasure. If you're interested in seeing more, click on the thumbnails below! This fuller set will be captioned soon, I promise.

Posted by anatole at 12:54 PM | Comments (4)

July 01, 2005

Happy Canada Day!

Canada Day events

Overheard on Canada Day in Ottawa:

From water sellers ...

  • "Don't die -- give water a try!"
  • "Get your bottled water here ... organic water ... no cholesterol!"

From a busker ...

  • "If you don't pay us, we'll stay here and breed with the locals ... look at me!"

On stage on Major's Hill Park ...

  • MC: "Make them dance, Tim!"
    Tim: "With an acoustic guitar ... and a harmonica. Right."
  • "If any of you are feeling high right now, you're going to love the way Bob plays the harmonica."

At the Supreme Court ...

  • Q: "Why are you wearing that string attached to your gun?"
    Mountie: "It's so that if someone tries to take my gun, they can strangle me at the same time."
  • "No, we'll take our chances today ... otherwise you'd be here all day." (a security guard explains that they're scanning purses and other bags but not asking people to turn out their pockets for wallets, cell phones, etc.)

Posted by anatole at 10:57 AM | Comments (2)