29 November 2005

No Web 2.0 for learners

On limiting learning opportunities:
In Australia Leigh Blackall mentioned how the use of firewalls and network security in educational organisations prevents learners from taking part in the global architectures of participation. See also his Flickr collection.
James Farmer also mentions that 'edublogs are being blocked' and that it is happening 'all over the place.'
Stephen Downes from Canada suggests why this could be so.
D'Arcy Norman finds censorship evil:

"In the absolute best case scenario, this is simply a side effect of a lazy, outdated, authoritarian system trying to maintain the status quo. Instead of trying to educate people about information literacy, they decide it's easier to just block access to information Just In Case™."

"But, in a worst case scenario, open communication is essentially being outlawed in favour of a government-mandated censorship and filtering system. That has no place in modern society, especially in institutions of learning."
In the US David Weinberger points out an article how schools there crack down on learning bloggers.

Vauhini Vara writes that The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a Bloggers' FAQ on Student Blogging which addresses legal issues (in the U.S.) arising from student blogging.

A Manifesto has been started by Leigh re '
effective change in Australian education' and 'affairs in Australia with regard to ICTs in education.'

Will these learners be able to acquire the digital network literacy and blog along in future workplaces?

28 November 2005

Resources boom, jet skies, bikes & animals

Bingo the Arctic is melting! The resources rush is in full swing and the spoils are already being divided. Read the extensive and interesting article in Common Dreams.

Some action re bicycle lockers and cages at public transport nodes is happening. More news from the Australian Bicycle Council website.

Jet ski kill. What is Manly doing to enforce jet ski safety regulations?

The charges against John Coady of Addison Rd., Manly of cementing out the burrow of the protected little penguin were dismissed by the court.(Manly Daily)

Hunks of meat push: "It's a hard sell, eating the national emblem (kangaroo) ... so using a euphemism will help."

How could sharks dissapear out of an aquarium? Watch for yourself.

25 November 2005

Populating the coasts

All of the coast - one mega-town: A trip along the coast after years revealed the continuous coastal megacity from Cairns to Eden. The ever-sameness stretching, clinging to the ocean and smashing huge arteries though forests. In the absence of images, here is a great panorama (to scroll through) and some excellent images of suburbian sprawl in California. Future visions of building mega-temples & golf courses are also being realised in a National Park on the east coast of Spain. The Greenpeace pdf is in Spanish but the images are self-explanatory.
(Image:'Costa Iberica' by MVRDV)

24 November 2005

How to play MNLY-ball

The aim of MNLY-ball is to keep the ball in the air. There is no opponent to beat. It is cooperative and experience-oriented. No sponsors with bulldozers are needed to flatten the beach and no buildings or structures on the beach. MNLY-ball can be played on any type of sand surfaces. It has a minimal footprint.

  • Use a partly inflated ball so it is soft and can't hurt anyone. It is easy to catch.
  • Throw the ball to your partner in a way that is easy to catch. Aim for the hands.
  • Make it interesting by throwing high and then low.
  • Feel your concentration growing. It is not easy to make it easy.
  • Choose the right ambience. Experience the lorikeets or the sound of the surf consciously while playing.
  • MNLY-ball enhances your consciousness - keep your eye on the ball and your ears on the ambient soundscape.
Unlike beach volleyball, MNLY-ball is not commercial and all participants are winners because of the experience, not the outcome. Unlike rugby, you can play MNLY-ball in crowded places without being able to hurt anyone.
Promote cooperative sport for a cooperative life.

23 November 2005

Tasmania - Australia

News from the frontier:
Tasmania is losing its forests. "8,000 hectares of Tasmanian native forest were lost last year." "…The low rate of prosecutions and the imposition of very small fines for offenders who breach forest practices standards...is distressing"." Only 1 per cent of the complaints investigated resulted in legal action."(ABC News Online)
Check out the deforestation map for Australia and read more at Global Forest Watch.

On the roads in between "…there is one dead animal every three kilometres." (ABC NewsOnline)
4WDs are flattening the coastline. (ABC News Online)

The unique Tasmanian Devil is suffering from fatal facial cancer. The pesticides (Phosdrin: organophosphate) used by Tasmanian 'agriculture' (your food!) is causing this disease. (ABC News Online)

All that is being done in this microcosm happens on a larger scale in the macrocosm.

22 November 2005

Motorised transport and its regulation

On unsustainable modes of 'transport':

Roll-over 4WDs kill: one gets awarded $ 83 million,the other gets a two-year suspended jail sentence.

The US army is using Humvees to recruit youth for the war effort:
"The Pentagon spends $2.7 billion for recruiting young teenagers and adults for war.."

At the end of the motoring era the 'most powerful car on the road' (250 mph) has no space for luggage.
Good transport design/actions:
The concept of 'Passive Driving' is elaborated by Monbiot. A must read!

European "second generation" traffic calming:" "...It's about dismantling barriers: between the road and the sidewalk, between cars, pedestrians and cyclists and, most controversially, between moving vehicles and children at play." (Kottke)

Paris is closing roads to cars and building extra wide lanes for buses and bicycles." (EcoCity Cleveland)

20 November 2005

National Parks going to the dogs.

A walk in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park:

Road kill: The road into the Lambert Peninsula had a dead Euro, Lizard and Possum along the curb. The meaning of the unique roo-bar was apparent. Once fee collection knocks off, the road becomes a racing track in earnest.

Dogs in NP
Then there are the dogs, with or without owner/s. Hunting native wildlife and polluting the habitat. NP are aware, but their action is confined to only 'urge' local residents. Personally I find it unpleasant having to confront /follow up dog-owners in NPs.
Their line of 'arguments' always follow the same pattern:
"He's no dog/ he's a dingo"
"I live here/this is my place"
"I am a rate payer/Are you?"
'my back-yard' annexation
Then there are the physical threats. Bringing it to the notice of NPs seems a waste of live-time and ineffective.

Horses in NP: As if slaughtered wildlife by cars and dogs is not enough, horse owners demand to trample all over the delicate soil of the NP.

"Harvesting": Families with arms full of flannel flowers.

Annexation, privatisation & commercialisation: The mental and political annexation of habitat set aside for the conservation of Australian flora and fauna pushes to "properly handle" public assets, e.g. privatise and commercialise them.

Still, the Hyacinth Orchids (Dipodium Punctatum) looked stunning...

(Image: Petroglyph by the Eora people depicting an Euro?)

Kite surfing

Kitesurfing is inreasingly popular on Manly beach. This sport looks impressive when practised by a skilled surfer but it is frightening to be sharing the beach with a beginner.
There have been fatalities while kitesurfing and it is recognised as a dangerous sport. Although it is recommended that it be learnt at a school, this is not required by law.
It is recommended not to kitesurf in crowded places so it is surprising that Sydney's most popular beach allows it at all.
The safety guidelines ("The Art of Staying Alive") for kitesurfing are compared with driving a car. They include:

  • wear a helmet
  • Go slow and be careful in a crowded place (near shore, people and hard objects, etc.)
  • Never launch, ride or jump upwind of people
  • Never let yourself or others even have a chance of getting tangled up with the flying lines (e.g. do not fly your kite over other people)
  • Do not kitesurf in very strong wind if you are a beginner
In Manly these rules are not applied or enforced.
It may be necessary to wait for more fatal accidents here before any regulation is introduced.

05 November 2005


Leaving Manly for some time.
Check out Social Bookmarks Australia

02 November 2005

Butterflies swarm over Manly

A lot of Caper White Butterflies (Belenois java) swarms are about. Large numbers migrate and rest in Manly's green space. The black and white butterflies seem to flap in an eratic way and it seems unlikely that they travel interstate. But once a 'partner' is spotted, the flight-path becomes straight-lined and determined.

Humans perceive them as a danger: they 'can clog car radiators, causing overheating.' (Austr. Museum) or are a threat to all the industrial petrol 'gardens'.(Manly Daily)

As most of their food & host-plants have been eradicated, they have a long and hungry journey ahead of them. To conserve their habitat or produce a butterfly-friendly garden, this site offers a lot inspiration.

4WD Health Warnings

In England it has been proposed that 4-wheel drive vehicles be required to have a health warning on the side: "This Vehicle Damages The Environment" (The Independent).
This could be extended to warn of the danger to the lives of toddlers, pedestrians and cyclists. It may also be necessary to run survival reading classes for toddlers as soon as they can toddle.
More on death machines

01 November 2005

'Amazon' down under

'Virgin' country illegally cleared, penalty slashed.(ABC News Online)

Stop killing Lorikeets

Rainbow Lorikeets are brightly coloured parrots that travel in flocks emitting piercing calls in mid-air. Travelling from one pollen source (native trees & shrubs) to another in swift motions. Because of their beauty people are seeking to get close to this protected species. As mentioned before here and here, this form of luring them with inappropriate sugar-based substances cripples them, breeds diseases and shortens their life-span.

Large numbers die from poor hygiene + artificial diets:

necrotizing enteritis
(Artificial unsanitary conditions of containers where many birds aggregate, like in a poultry factory, food and faecies of many are mixed, immunity is lowered)

Psittacine beak and feather disease is an AIDS-like condition, beaks and feathers are deformed, a long agony to death.
If you would like to admire these fantastic birds, leave them some habitat,
or even better make some:
Plant flowering banksias, bottlebrushes, grevillias etc. in your garden or on your balcony.
STOP killing these birds!!

Unfortunately the responsible authorities are not able to effectively protect the native flora and fauna. Mere recommendations and appeals from tooth-less tigers and ignorant 'kindness' could see this species disappear.