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article

Osama Bin Laden Brought to Justice: An Oral History

I’ve only been to New York City once1 but this was pre 9/11 and so I was lucky enough to see the World Trade Center buildings while one still could.

New York (1997)

Because of that trip though, the attacks on September 11, 2001 resonated on a more personal level. It was a place I had been inside. I didn’t know anyone that died but I know people that do.

My brother called moments after the second plane crashed and when I found out, I instantly jumped out of bed and glued myself to CNN for the rest of the day.

This blog didn’t exist then and I always felt bad that I never wrote anything about how I felt that day nor how I felt when the successful raid on Bin Laden’s compound was announced. Perhaps someday I’ll put some thoughts down about it but for right now, I just want to recommend the fascinating retrospective put together by Politico about the time before and after the raid in Abbottabad — as told from the people who were involved. It’s a long and intensely worthwhile read.

Osama Bin Laden’s Death — a White House Oral History.

(via One Foot Tsunami)


1. Not including a quick stop at the airport on my trip to Israel.

Categories
pandemic

Do Your Own Research

By now you’ve likely heard the recommendation to do your own research about whether or not to get vaccinated for Covid-19.

This short video is full of good advice:

Here’s a brand new one about protecting yourself from vaccine shedders:

Categories
Miscellaneous

Stumbled

Stumble Upon1 is back. This time it’s called Stumbled.

(via Waxy)


1. Stumble Upon Wikipedia Entry.

Categories
pandemic work

Alberta Schools Go Online

The premiere has announced that the whole province is once again moving to online schooling for grades K-12. We got this letter from our superintendent:

In the last week the number of staff and students quarantining has increased significantly within Horizon and around the province. As of this morning, eleven (11) communities have transitioned to at-home learning due to severe staff shortages, and today at 6:00pm the Premier announced that all K-12 students will shift to at-home learning starting May 7th. They will continue with on-line learning until May 25th (after the long-weekend) Students will be in school on Wednesday May 5 and Thursday May 6. The hope is that this reset will reduce the number of cases, resolve the staff shortage, allow staff to get vaccinated, and allow students to close the school year with in-person learning.

Although I’m already teaching from home I was scheduled to be back in classes by either the 10th or 17th (depending on the kind of variant we find in our school).

Categories
pandemic

Alberta Biggest Pandemic Hotspot

We’re number one in North America. The map below shows our average number of cases per 100,000 over the last seven days to be 41.3.

The real worry is, we had 2,433 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 just yesterday. In a population of 4.4 million, that works out to about 553 cases per 100,000 people. The news can’t stop talking about India having a rate of 190 per 100,000 people so it’s insane that our infection rates are so high.

Here’s some rolling average numbers from South America right now:

As you can tell, the numbers aren’t even close and yet we still have people protesting that they don’t want to get vaccinated and who refuse to wear masks.

I’m out of school not because schools are closed but because my students have an option class with a teacher that has COVID-19 and are therefore close contacts.

I was hoping we’d be heading out of this by the end of June. Now I’m just hoping our numbers will be more reasonable by September.

Categories
religion

Membership

It was Saturday May 2nd, 1987 — 34 years ago today — when as an eight year old I joined the LDS church. Even then I remember being a skeptic but intense pressure to “make the decision” meant I didn’t have much choice. I ping ponged between not feeling worthy and insecurities about the “truthfulness” of the whole operation. The evening itself was nice and the conversation I had about it with my dad in the change room was memorable.

My memory of the night isn’t perfect but I remember a few details. Danielle MacNiven and Dan Baugh were both scheduled to be baptized that night too but I’m pretty sure Dan was a no-show — which thinking about it now, it’s bizarre that he wasn’t there. I wonder if he had cold feet? Or maybe I can’t remember the details right and it was someone else that was the no-show.

Anyway, the physical experience of the baptismal font surprised me. It was warmer than a public pool and cooler than a hot tub. I’d never worn clothes in water before so that was new and the too tight jumper they forced me to wear was not comfortable. I stressed that the water would make the white outfit transparent but I don’t remember that being an issue in reality.

In my experience, what happens in a baptism is that the dad (assuming he’s in good standing — which he was) takes you down into the lukewarm water of the baptismal font, holds their arm to the square, says a ceremonial prayer and submerges the reluctant joiner under the water. It doesn’t take very long, but then you come up out of the water to an overpowering crowd of eager lookie-loos only to be told that the dunk didn’t count because your elbow wasn’t quite below the water line and that it needs to happen one more time, for full sin washing potency. So we did it again.

Back in the change room, while we dried off, I told my dad that I was reluctant to go through with part 2, the confirmation blessing. He asked why I didn’t say something sooner. I’m not sure what I said but I remember he told me that, “now, it’s too damn late.” Geez, Dad, swearing in the church about baptism? — even then I was a judgy kid. He went on to tell me about the first time he went through the temple — an even more esoteric ceremony within the church — and how at the end of it all he had to get married to someone he DID NOT WANT TO GET MARRIED TO (His first wife). So, he could relate.

Nevertheless, as far as he was concerned my fate was sealed and we went to the primary room for more prayer, singing, and a bunch of old men putting their hands on my head while one of them gave me blessings of happiness so long as I stayed worthy — I think it was my grandpa that did the honours. Being baptized meant I got a clean slate but from this point forward anything I did wrong would be permanent points against me on judgement day — seriously, how is this healthy for an eight year old?

So that’s it. That’s what I remember about my baptism. Coincidentally, May 2nd was arbor day and on the same day, my family and I planted some trees in the coulee behind our house. I don’t have any regrets about the trees we planted that day. They are big now.

Categories
Art technology

Relm

Some friends of mine1 built a new kind of online meeting space. It’s called Relm. It’s a virtual space that brings people together in a game-like environment with live video chat. In a nutshell, it’s a playful virtual space for online events.

Relm is a community of artists, engineers, philosophers, and spiritual thinkers making a new kind of home on the internet. It’s a virtual world where you can commune with friends.

Updated video:

Just a couple of days ago they updated it to (sort of) work on iOS (iPhone, iPad). Safari is my browser of choice and while you can get basic functionality, it seems to work best in Chrome.

Try out this example world.

1. Duane Johnson is the main programmer behind Relm. There are others that I don’t really know that well. I’m closer friends with Duane’s brothers — I met Duane in person a few years ago in Utah.

Categories
video

Crazy, Amazing, Drone Footage Videos

Scott Simmie, DroneDJ:

Odds are, you’ve seen that amazing bowling alley FPV video that was released in early March. It was a phenomenal piece of piloting and timing, showing off various attributes in the life of a bowling alley in Minnesota – all in a single shot lasting 87 seconds.

I had not seen the video, and if you also haven’t then I highly recommend you check it out. Here it is:

Next up, Mall of America:

The bowling alley video was all shot in a pretty confined space, which created numerous challenges for the pilot. The new video is located in the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. It’s a massive mall, complete with an indoor amusement park. And Jay takes us through it all.

Another video, this one of the Black Lives Matter protests:

Twin Cities 2020 is a powerful piece of work, telling the stories of those cities during one of the most momentous, tumultuous years in their history.

Categories
education work

Edmonton Spelling Test on Google Forms

I’ve been using the The Edmonton Spelling List for my grade 5 class. Because we’ve switched to online learning I created a Google Form as a place for them to write their answers. It’s a nice bonus that Google Forms marks it automatically.

Not long after I instructed my students to load up the Google Form, my stomach sank. Sure, a few students loaded it with no trouble, but other students began complaining about a warning / they were unable to continue. It wasn’t clear at first what was causing the problem. Then, one after another, the students who were complaining started to drop out of the classroom meetup.

It turns out that I had put the Google Form in “Lock-down mode” because I didn’t want their browsers giving them hints on how to spell the words or tabbing over to Google to get a helpful correction on the words. Well, lock-down mode locked the students out of the tab that had the meet-up. A few of the students rebooted and rejoined the class but another more intrepid student began filling in all 50 blank questions with non-sense so that it would allow him to submit it. That’s one way to kill ten minutes of class time.

Long story short, lock-down mode would have been great for in-school learning but it didn’t work for online schooling. I ended up having them do a version not locked down and just pretended that browsers don’t underline misspelled words.

The list below has copy generating links in case other teachers want to make a copy.

Categories
Apple finance

Apple Earnings Call Q2 2021

Apple released it’s second quarter earnings today and blew out even the most exuberant expectations with revenue reaching a record $89.6 billion, up 54 percent year over year. The results were fabulous across the board.

iPhone $47,938 million (up 66%)
Mac $9,102 million (up 70%)
iPad $7,807 million (up 79%)
Wearables, Home and Accessories $7,836 million (up 25%)
Services $16,901 million (up 27%)
Total Net Sales $89,584 million (up 54%)

What a great quarter. Particularly iPad and Mac were very, very strong. Just look at Mac alone — the last three quarters have each returned record earnings. Sales looking forward are predicted to be supply constrained rather than demand constrained.

More details of their earnings can be found in Apple’s Fiscal Year 2021 Second Quarter Consolidated Financial Statement.

Check out the charts at Six Colors.