Pareidolia


Nothing in life escapes official designation, everything has a name, there’s a name for everything. Take Pareidolia, who knew it defined the rabbit your minds’ eye sees in the oil slick on the garage floor? Be it ink blot, cloud formation, piece of driftwood or crisp edge of a grilled cheese sandwich – familiar objects or patterns in completely unrelated objects or patterns are pareidolia.

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https://www.inverse.com/article/49527-what-is-pareidolia

A face in black and white on a rocky background.

Here’s the so-called “face on Mars” as originally captured in a 1976 image from the Viking 1 orbiter. Click here to see how subsequent spacecraft revealed the “face” to be simply a play of light and shadows.

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Examples of Pareidolia – Bing images

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Famous Examples of Pareidolia – Bing images

Spiders Rule


Forget cute baby kittens, look beyond conventional fluffiness and embrace the Peacock Spider. Look at this guy, he’s delightful. Yes, that’s a spider! A jumping spider native to Australia. Jumpers have excellent vision and stalk rather than trap prey in webs.

Cute soft-furred spider with vivid blue, red and yellow pattern on abdomen.

Delightful knows no bounds. Watch his courtship dance –

Considerably less fluffy, but equally remarkable are Diving Bell Spiders. In ponds across Europe and Asia, these wily arachnids spend their entire life underwater. They breathe air trapped in bubbles that are held in place by webs. Divers leave their bubble to hunt prey, surfacing only to gather fresh oxygen for their bubble.

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Flying spiders? Who knew threads of wind swept silk propelled spiders hundreds of miles? Known as parachuting or ballooning, countless small spiders raise their abdomen and cast silk to the wind. A phenonium which explains sudden appearance of spiders on ships at sea.

Long-legged spider, with back end pointing up.

Small spider raising its abdomen to balloon away. Image via Sarefo.

Seriously


Trump nation fosters acute disdain for Canadian perspectives. Blinders sewn of propagandist misinformation demand immediate dismissal of even the most respectful engagement, based solely on the fact it’s offered by an insignificant Canadian. Apparently I’m a “Libtard” fool living in a Fascist nation. Whoa. All I said was Canadians don’t take issue with mail-in ballots. Sheesh, settle down.

According to Pew Research Center, a survey of 13 democratic countries including France, Japan, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands and Sweden reported U.S. approval ratings between 57-72% when Trump took office in 2016. Today favorable U.S. approval has fallen to 34%. Global consensus by 84% of respondents cited terrible response to COVID-19 by the United States as reason for failure to impress. More telling was confidence in Trump, a paltry 16% gave him approval. Less than that of Russia’s Putin ( 19% ) or China’s Xi Jinping ( 23% ). Compare that to Obama who left office in 2016 with approval ratings between 68 and 93 percent among surveyed democratic nations.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/trump-has-pummeled-the-us-into-deep-global-unpopularity/2020/09/18/2e7c3782-f90b-11ea-89e3-4b9efa36dc64_story.html

Trump nation doesn’t care about global opinion, as far as they’re concerned external trepidation is born of left wing indoctrination. Thumping patriot chests, they scoff at unsophisticated interlopers daring to challenge their lofty hubris. Good luck Trumpsters, mock this Canadian and the rest of the world with wild abandon. When the dust settles you can clean up the mess, no skin off my Liberal nose.

I leave you with Seriously, a video from the Lincoln Project. Former Republications united to oust Donald Trump –

Adrien Mauduit, Sept. 2020 Geomagnetic Storm Timelapse


From Senja, Norway Adrien Mauduit of Night Lights Films captured ethereal timelapse of geomagnetic storms between September 25 – 28, 2020.

As I write Earth orbit passes through a stream of gaseous plasma erupting from a “hole” in the Sun. Solar wind rages at 610 km per second. Predicted to spew well into tomorrow, fair skies could see auroras as far south as Montana and Michigan.

Treat yourself to mesmerizing respite courtesy Adrien Mauduit. Five minutes of bliss guaranteed to soften furrowed brows, smooth jagged nerves and gawk at majesty of the cosmos.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCC0CLzCpM6nuLSAi1JNBjkA

Shame On Oscar


Earlier this week reigning bobbleheads at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (aka, the Oscars), puffed out ever so pleased with themselves chests to announce new inclusion and diversity guidelines. Ostensibly the first stage of a five year plan to promote diversity on and off the screen. Translation – Oscar consideration will be reserved for productions where people of colour, women, persons with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community are included in minimum percentage quotas. From actors, marketing, pre and post production, catering and internships to location scouts, camera operators, lighting techs and extra wranglers, every aspect of production just became a box to tick.

Initial coverage centred on warm fuzzy kudos for Academy acknowledgement of trending social issues. Were we supposed to gush praise for enlightenment of an old guard white establishment? Sleep tight knowing another behemoth influencer feigned understanding or compassion for systemic injustice? What a farce!

Lets talk fine print before weighing in on the absurdity of hollow, insulting percentage quotas. New rules don’t apply to films vying for 2021 Oscar nods. Not until Oscar 2024 will films have to meet quotas in two of four standards. The four standards cover “diversity representation among actors and subject matter; behind-the-camera staff, such as cinematographers and costume designers; paid apprenticeships and training opportunities; and marketing and publicity.” Take your pick, no pressure. Pad the crew with a sprinkling of trans black lesbians, contract first aid to a immigrant Iranian doctor formerly flipping burgers to support his family because his degree isn’t recognized in America, hire amputee survivors of Rwanda genocide to sew costumes, recruit unpaid interns at predominantly black colleges, take a page from Netflix and script obligatory same sex intimacy in every production. Mission accomplished, standards fulfilled, business as usual.

What’s wrong with these people? Do they actually think spotlight posturing makes a difference? Believe marginalized people seek validation based on arbitrary quotas? It’s SO PAINFUL! News flash -we’re all the same. Black skin the same as freckled white, same sex union no different than traditional marriage, nation of birth, faith or lack thereof – all irrelevant. Diversity quotas prevail for purposes of corporate optics. Look at us, click, like, follow and share our trending abundance of social awareness. Shame on Oscar.

https://nationalpost.com/entertainment/oscars-academy-sets-out-new-diversity-standards-for-best-picture-contenders

Worst Year of Your Life? Really?


A recent poll conducted by Leger Marketing in partnership with the Association for Canadian Studies asked – “Up until now, is 2020 the worst year you have ever lived?” 50% of Canadians, 58% of Americans answered yes, 2020 is the worst year of my life. Canadians and Americans, 41 and 46 percent respectively cited death of a loved one as reason. (Not specific to COVID-19), followed by stress, anxiety and future uncertainty at 41% for both countries.

Sure, it’s been tough. Took some time to adjust, adapt and digest, but worst year of my life? Not even close.

Pessimism flourished along geographic and demographic lines. 62% of respondents living in southern U.S. states declared 2020 worst year of their life. In Canada 56% of those aged 18-54 declared 2020 the worst, compared to 47% over 55.

https://nationalpost.com/news/half-of-canadians-say-2020-has-been-the-worst-year-of-their-lives-with-younger-people-more-pessimistic-poll

In my mind, 2020 as worst year of life represents collective misappropriation of frustration. Worst year of life internalizes external circumstance, it creates dismay rather than sparking unity. Worst year of life is a personal declaration, it’s lonely and depressing. Granted, I speak from a Canadian perspective. ( 121,00 cases, 9,004 deaths compared to 5.15 million cases, 164,000 deaths in America ). That said, cause and effect can be debilitating, or it can facilitate a fundamental shift in perspective – reevaluation of priorities leading to social awareness, empathy, government foibles and personal responsibility. Is that so bad?

COVID-19 is a cautionary tale, how humanity responds defines our future. Unexpected, devastating, inconvenient, sobering, contentious, political, alarming, needlessly fatal – yes. Worst year of our lives? Only if its lesson eludes you.

You Want A Confederate Monument?


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Yesterday Trump tweeted – “I will veto the Defense Authorization Bill if the Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren (of all people) Amendment, which will lead to renaming (plus other bad things) of Fort Bragg, Fort Robert E Lee and many other military bases from which we won Two World Wars is in the Bill!”. Pocahontas of all people, other bad things? WTF! Appalling disregard for minorities, historical ignorance, calculated right wing campaign fodder – you decide, I’m speechless.

Last Sunday, editorial opinion by Caroline Randall Williams appeared in the New York Times. Amid Trumpish support for white nationalism, Trump outrage over NYC Mayor de Blasio planning to paint Black Lives Matter on 5th Avenue in front of Trump Tower (Trump tweeted – “de Blasio is going to paint a big, expensive, Black Lives Matter sign on Fifth Avenue, denigrating the luxury Avenue” ) and widespread initiatives to remove Confederate symbolism – Caroline Randall Williams penned perspective every American should read and take to heart. Quoted in part below, full article link after that.

“I have rape-colored skin. My light-brown-blackness is a living testament to the rules, the practices, the causes of the Old South.

If there are those who want to remember the legacy of the Confederacy, if they want monuments, well, then, my body is a monument. My skin is a monument.

Dead Confederates are honored all over this country — with cartoonish private statues, solemn public monuments and even in the names of United States Army bases. It fortifies and heartens me to witness the protests against this practice and the growing clamor from serious, nonpartisan public servants to redress it. But there are still those — like President Trump and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell — who cannot understand the difference between rewriting and reframing the past. I say it is not a matter of “airbrushing” history, but of adding a new perspective.

I am a black, Southern woman, and of my immediate white male ancestors, all of them were rapists. My very existence is a relic of slavery and Jim Crow.

According to the rule of hypodescent (the social and legal practice of assigning a genetically mixed-race person to the race with less social power) I am the daughter of two black people, the granddaughter of four black people, the great-granddaughter of eight black people. Go back one more generation and it gets less straightforward, and more sinister. As far as family history has always told, and as modern DNA testing has allowed me to confirm, I am the descendant of black women who were domestic servants and white men who raped their help.

It is an extraordinary truth of my life that I am biologically more than half white, and yet I have no white people in my genealogy in living memory. No. Voluntary. Whiteness. I am more than half white, and none of it was consensual. White Southern men — my ancestors — took what they wanted from women they did not love, over whom they had extraordinary power, and then failed to claim their children.

What is a monument but a standing memory? An artifact to make tangible the truth of the past. My body and blood are a tangible truth of the South and its past. The black people I come from were owned by the white people I come from. The white people I come from fought and died for their Lost Cause. And I ask you now, who dares to tell me to celebrate them? Who dares to ask me to accept their mounted pedestals?

You cannot dismiss me as someone who doesn’t understand. You cannot say it wasn’t my family members who fought and died. My blackness does not put me on the other side of anything. It puts me squarely at the heart of the debate. I don’t just come from the South. I come from Confederates. I’ve got rebel-gray blue blood coursing my veins. My great-grandfather Will was raised with the knowledge that Edmund Pettus was his father. Pettus, the storied Confederate general, the grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, the man for whom Selma’s Bloody Sunday Bridge is named. So I am not an outsider who makes these demands. I am a great-great-granddaughter.” – Caroline Randall Williams

Confederate Monuments – Another Perspective

Beryl Dickinson-Dash


In 1949 Beryl Dickinson-Dash was a third year arts major attending McGill University in Montreal. At the time, only 150 of 8,500 McGill students were black. Most blacks were international students, Beryl Dickinson-Dash belonged to a handful of Canadian born black students, notedly a black Canadian woman who knew of no other black female Canadian students.

Beryl with her mother Maisy

Winter Carnival was a big deal at McGill, a mid-winter festival presided over by Carnival queen and four princesses. Keen beauties required 25 signatures from male students to secure nomination. Without her knowledge, the roommate of Beryl’s boyfriend (whom she later married) submitted a photo she’d given her boyfriend on his birthday along with 25 signatures from black male students. Beryl was shocked to find herself one of 26 official candidates.

Next came the ceremonial tea, an afternoon of polite white glove decorum and radio interviews. 26 were cut to 15, 15 became 5 finalists after a second round of interviews and struts. Beryl made the final cut. Each candidate was assigned a campaign manager.

Campaigns reached fever pitch, Beryl’s boyfriend, his brother, roommate and black students rallied behind her. Telegrams were sent to McGill posing as endorsement from prominent companies and organizations. Posters of Beryl appeared in every classroom. Voting booths with scrutineers proved seriousness of a fair vote. Results were leaked several days before official crowning. Beryl won by a landside, so much so final numbers wouldn’t be released as doing so might “injure the other girls”. Just past midnight, March 5, 1949 on her 21st birthday, Beryl Dickinson-Dash was crowned McGill Carnival Queen at the Montreal Forum in front of 8,000 spectators.

A newspaper clipping from March 5, 1949, announcing the pageant victory. (Submitted by Bradley Rapier)

Beryl doesn’t know why a predominantly white student body elected her Carnival queen. “Perhaps they were tired of how things were” she said. Regardless, she became a media sensation, front page news in papers and magazines. South of the border, Color magazine sponsored Dickinson-Dash (now Beryl Rapier) for a two week trip to West Virginia – her first negro college. A painting of Beryl standing in front of West Virginia state capital building by artist William Edouard Scott titled Spirit of Democracy was presented to McGill as a token of appreciation from people of America. I remind you – it was 1949!

Color magazine sponsored a two-week trip to West Virginia for Rapier. A press clipping from that trip features photographs of her at West Virginia State College. (Submitted by Bradley Rapier)

Sadly, few people in Canada know the story of Beryl Dickinson-Dash. But for stumbling upon her story last week courtesy CBC Radio Doc Project, I’d remain oblivious to a remarkable moment in Canadian history. More photos and history at the link below –

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/docproject/how-montrealer-beryl-dickinson-dash-made-history-as-mcgill-s-first-black-queen-of-carnival-1.5605944