Thursday, December 11, 2008
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights may not be set to open until 2012, but it launched its first virtual exhibition yesterday. To mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Dec. 10, 1948, the museum premiered an exhibit at the University of Winnipeg that explores the life of John Peters Humphrey, right, the Canadian legal scholar and principal author of the Declaration. The document arose from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled. The exhibit, which used digitized artifacts from Library Archives Canada and McGill University Archives, can be viewed online at www.humanrightsmuseum.ca.
It was exactly 150 years ago today — on Dec. 11, 1858 — that the British Colonist, the precursor of the newspaper you are now reading, made its debut.
The four-page edition, all 200 copies of it, was produced in a shack on Wharf Street under the guidance of founder Amor De Cosmos, who went on to become B.C.’s second premier.
Fast forward to 10 a.m. today, when the newspaper marks its anniversary with the launch of a website that will give the public free access to a searchable database that contains the first 50 years of Colonist newspapers.
The British Colonist Digitization Project is a joint effort by the Times Colonist, the University of Victoria, and a consortium of British Columbia libraries. The website — www.britishcolonist.ca — covers the period from Dec. 11, 1858, to June 30, 1910, and offers 100,544 pages.
Because the newspaper provides one of the best available records of B.C. during that time, “it’s going to be great for historians, genealogists or anyone who wants to know about the history of the province,” said Times Colonist editor in chief Lucinda Chodan.
She said the site is “a gift to the community that has helped us thrive,” and offers free access to material that has previously been available only on microfilm at libraries.
The two-year effort brought together the Times Colonist, the University of Victoria, the University of British Columbia’s Ike Barber Learning Centre, the Electronic Library Network of B.C., the B.C. Public Library Services Branch and the Greater Victoria Public Library.
UVic’s Chris Petter, who helped manage the website project, said some of the site’s content predates Canada’s nationhood (1867) and B.C.’s entry into Confederation (1871). The Colonist also covered the first decades of proceedings in the B.C. legislature — the only such documentation in existence.
“It was a recognition by the library community that this was not just a newspaper that was important, but the newspaper that was the most important for the province,” said Petter, the head of special collections at UVic’s McPherson Library.
He said the website is equipped for users to search chronologically or by key word, and that it will provide “a rich, full look at our history.”
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
2008 December 9
NEW WESTMINSTER – A new handbook about the rights of youth will help young people involved in B.C.’s child welfare system become stronger self-advocates and successfully transition into adulthood, Children and Family Development Minister Tom Christensen announced today.
The minister joined representatives of the Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks to celebrate the launch of the Your Life – Your Rights handbook. The handbook, produced by the federation with the support of a $70,000 ministry investment, helps meet government’s responsibility to ensure young people are educated about their rights.
“Your Life – Your Rights is part of government’s commitment to support youth in making successful transitions from care to independence when they turn 19,” said Christensen. “Educating youth about their rights and how they can effectively exercise them is empowering and can clearly lead to better lives.”
Research demonstrates that when children and youth understand their rights they show increased self-esteem; they are less likely to come to harm; more likely to seek help; more socially responsible and respectful of the rights of others; and are more likely to participate in a meaningful way in decisions affecting their lives.
“Young people involved in the child welfare system have a right to know about their rights in a way they can understand them,” said Jocelyn Helland, federation executive director. “It was important to us to involve young people in the creation of this great resource so it is written in a way that works for them. We are very proud of it.”
The Your Life – Your Rights handbook explains the rights of youth when they are accessing government services. These rights are recognized under B.C.’s Child, Family and Community Service Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Respecting the Rights of the Child is a core principle of the ministry.
“Every youth in care needs a copy of this book,” said Amanda, a member of the Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks, who can’t be identified because she’s a youth receiving services. “When I was in care, I didn’t realize what my rights were. When I found out, I was surprised at what was available to me and I was much better able to advocate for myself.”
The new handbook will be distributed to youth in care between the ages of 12 and 19, and complements a range of programs in place to help youth in care on the road to independence, such as the recently launched Agreements with Young Adults program, the Youth Education Assistance Fund, Youth Agreements and the Kinnections mentorship program.
To view the handbook online, please visit www.fbcyicn.ca, and to learn more about services for youth in B.C., please visit www.strongsafesupported.com/EN/for_youth/.
VANCOUVER – The 2009 shortlist for Canada’s largest literary non-fiction award, the British Columbia National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, was announced today by Premier Gordon Campbell and BC Achievement Foundation chair Keith Mitchell.
The four finalists contending for the $40,000 prize are:
* Daphne Bramham for “The Secret Lives of Saints: Child Brides and Lost Boys in Canada’s Polygamous Mormon Sect” (Random House Canada)
* Mary Henley Rubio for “Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings” (Doubleday Canada)
* Christopher Shulgan for “The Soviet Ambassador: The Making of the Radical Behind Perestroika” (McClelland & Stewart)
* Russell Wangersky for “Burning Down the House: Fighting Fires and Losing Myself” (Thomas Allen Publishers)
“Now in its fifth year, the B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction continues to celebrate the best non-fiction writing from across Canada and spotlights this important literary genre and its significance to all Canadians,” said Premier Campbell. “I want to congratulate all the finalists on their remarkable achievements.”
The shortlist was selected from a field of 163 nominated titles. Eligible books were authored by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and were published between November 1, 2007 and October 31, 2008.
“Our thanks to the jury who had the challenging but richly engaging task of selecting the shortlisted titles,” said Mitchell. “The BC Achievement Foundation extends its appreciation to award jurors John Cruickshank, recently appointed publisher of the Toronto Star; Stevie Cameron, one of Canada’s foremost investigative journalists, authors and commentators; and Andreas Schroeder, author, TV and Radio host and academic.
With a prize of $40,000 and national scope, the B.C. Award is the richest non-fiction book prize in Canada and the non-fiction counterpart to the Giller Prize for fiction and the Griffin Poetry Prize.
The winner of the B.C. National Award for Non-Fiction will be announced February 2, 2009 at a presentation ceremony in Vancouver.
The finalists are described in the following citations from the jury:
The Secret Lives of Saints: Child Brides and Lost Boys in Canada’s Polygamous Mormon Sect (Daphne Bramham)
‘In this uncompromising investigation into the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints community in Bountiful, B.C., the author argues that a clique of powerful men has allegedly used the Charter’s protection of religious freedom to justify a litany of human rights abuses. Bramham’s rigorously researched exposé reminds us that trafficking in women, the brainwashing of entire communities, and the over-reachings of religious despots aren’t restricted to television movies or countries half a world away.’
Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings (Mary Henley Rubio)
Although Mary Henley Rubio has spent most of her academic career studying the life and work of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The Gift of Wings is no dry scholarly tome, nor, despite being an authorized biography, is it a flattering portrait of one of Canada’s most successful authors. What we have here is a beautifully written yet unflinching account of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s complicated life as a driven, celebrity writer – but also as the dutiful wife of a chronically depressed clergyman and as the caring mother of two sons, one a doctor and the other an incorrigible ne’er-do-well. Often unhappy, terrified the world would find out about her troubles, Montgomery destroyed private papers in an effort to control her own story. Rubio has uncovered the truth of it and in doing so has only made us admire her subject more.
Soviet Ambassador: The Making of the Radical Behind Perestroika (Christopher Shulgan)
Now called “the godfather of glasnost,” former Communist hardliner Aleksandr Yakolev is hardly a household name in this country despite being the Soviet Union’s ambassador in Canada for ten years during the 1970s and early 1980s. But it was here in Canada, as Christopher Shulgan tells us in his immensely readable story, that Yakolev became a close friend of Pierre Trudeau and began to understand Western democracies. And it was Trudeau who first welcomed Mikhail Gorbachev to this country where Yakolev and Gorbachev developed their own strong friendship. Their ideas and commitment would change Russia forever. The power of this lively biography lies in the evolution of Yakolev’s thinking and the account of the reforms he helped to bring about to improve his own country.
Burning Down the House: Fighting Fires and Losing Myself (Russell Wangersky)
An astonishingly insightful and harrowing depiction of modern-day fire-fighting – in which fighting actual fires isn’t the half of it. This account of Russell Wangersky’s eight years as a volunteer firefighter responding to emergency calls ranging from car accidents to medical crises to house fires depicts his resulting post-traumatic disintegration with the slow inevitability of a toxic chemical reaction. His account’s greatest strength and primary impact comes not from the predictable drama of the events themselves, but from his tendency to do his job without wearing protective mental gear. The result is an account so relentlessly lucid and visceral that the reader emerges from the experience almost as exhausted and traumatized as the writer himself.
The B.C. Award is an annual national prize established by the British Columbia Achievement Foundation, an independent foundation endowed by the Province of British Columbia in 2003 to celebrate, provincially and nationally, excellence in the arts, humanities, enterprise and community service.
For more information on the award and this year’s finalists – including media copies of book covers and author photos – please visit www.bcachievement.com or contact the foundation at 604 261-9777 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Vancouver Sun: 2008 December 8
TORONTO — Google Inc. says ensuring that new media content in Canada remains unregulated is essential to keeping the Internet “awesome.”
The online search giant’s enthusiastic opinion is part of one of almost 100 submissions to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission about upcoming hearings on whether Canadian new media, basically any content carried over the Internet, should be regulated in Canada.
I n October, the CRTC announced it would solicit comments from the public towards a hearing scheduled for February into the impact new media has had on the Canadian broadcasting system and whether steps should be taken to regulate it. Final submissions to the federal regulator were due Friday.
The hearings will take into account the rapid changes since the CRTC issued an exemption order for new media broadcasting undertakings in 1999 and whether those policies need to be revised.
“The commission should resist the temptation to try to fix what is not broken,” Google said. “ Without regulation the Canadian broadcasting policy objectives have been, and will continue to be, implemented on the Internet. The New Media Exemption is the best regulatory approach to keeping the Internet awesome.”
Google said it had decided to contribute to the policy debate because it provides free access and several platforms for accessing Canadian content on the Internet, including YouTube and its localized search service.
The company joins a large chorus of other industry heavyweights, including ACTRA, the Canadian Recording Industry Association, CTVglobemedia Inc. and even the National Hockey League in determining the role new media now plays in the broadcasting world.
The majority of submissions appear to back Google’s stance on a non-regulated environment. But some are less sanguine. A potential tax suggested in preliminary discussions with the federal regulator of between some 2.5 per cent to five per cent of gross revenues to be levied on Internet service providers that would go to broadcasters was met with widespread opposition by industry players.
“We believe that adopting the proposed ISP tax would be contrary to the best interests of Canada,” a consortium of ISP companies including BCE Inc., Rogers Communications Inc., SaskTel and Telus Corp said in a submission.
“It would harm Canada’s Internet industry while failing to effectively promote the success of Canadian new media content.”
However, media consultant Alan Sawyer argued the CRTC should find a way to update the funding models between new media and televised content to ensure all Canadian content can be broadcast fairly while addressing an ever-changing audience.
“We need to recognize that going forward it is vital to fund content across all platforms and not limit our funding to programming that is at least in part carried by licensed broadcasters over licensed distribution mechanisms,” Sawyer said in his submission.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
When friends push friends onto Gmail, it usually involves talking up the seemingly limitless storage space, the fast-moving interface, or its inter-connectedness with other Google applications, like Calendar. Those features are all fine and good, but Gmail does a lot of helpful things that some users never get to dig into. From one short web address, you can video chat Skype-style with contacts, ensure you didn't leave yourself logged in elsewhere, help mom gradually migrate from her old dial-up-era email address, and pluck a single message out of tens of thousands. Let's dig in and take a look at Gmail's less-touted features for power users....
In Chapter 7 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Hermione is presented with a copy of a book called The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which Professor Dumbledore left her in his will. (Yes, he's dead. Sorry. Spoiler alert.) Because Hermione, like Harry, grew up in a Muggle family, she's never heard of the Tales, which are decribed as Aesop-like children's stories to be read to little wizarding kids. "Oh come on!" Ron says — he can't quite believe it. "All the old kids' stories are supposed to be Beedle's, aren't they? 'The Fountain of Fair Fortune'...'The Wizard and the Hopping Pot'...'Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump'."...
Friday, December 5, 2008
By Michael Stillman
The recent legal settlement between Google and book authors and publishers revealed a statistic that Google had previously kept close to its vest - just how many books have they scanned? According to a posting on the Google Blog, that number now exceeds seven million. That is a higher number than most who follow these things had estimated. Google further noted, "...and we're just getting started. We believe that ultimately we'll provide access to many times that number." While by far the largest, Google is not the only entity scanning and turning books into online searchable and accessible texts. There's the Open Content Alliance, the now discontinued Microsoft digitization project which scanned some 800,000 books, the recently announced PALINET program, and others. Whatever one thinks of the concept of online books, we are seeing some seismic shifts in the book trade beginning to stir....