Anton Aylward

What’s Wrong with the Internet?

I hate and despise articles like this for a variety of reasons.
First and foremost, I hate people making money out of fear-mongering, be it racist in nature (“the immigrants are crowding us out!”), religious in nature (“the heretics, schismatics, infidels, pagans, Christians, Jews, Islams or whatever are crowing us out!”) our some variation on economics (“the ignorant masses are crowing us out!”) or any such variation and permutation thereof. It doesn’t matter if is about starting a Church, Political Party or Society of believers and gathering money or political power, getting elected so that you can pass legislation and give preferential jobs the cronies or, once again, variations and permutations thereof.

The second is related to the first. It is, depending on how you look at it, either simple ignorance or wilful ignorance. Selection of facts.
We see this with the “Family Value” crowd quoting the Bible but ignoring the passages about slaves, concubinism and Lot’s prostitution of his daughters and later incest with them (Genesis 19:1–11 and Genesis 19:30–38). No, they rely on 1 Corinthians 10:11 that the record of the Old Testament is for an “example” to us. Only they get to pick and choose what parts to use an example, ignoring others.

That’s what’s going on in this article, ignoring history.

All the “annoying” things that the Internet is bringing have been brought about before by social changes. For example, fledging America ignored copyright, and in turn had its copyright ignored. American printers freely reprinted the works of European as well as other American writers. This is one reason Poe died in poverty despite his works being widely published and his contemporaries recognising his brilliance.

Technological innovation has always brought about social disruption and even philosophers such as Alfred North Whitehead have pointed out that ever since the discovery and application of fire, innovation has been morally ambiguous in this sense.

There’s a saying that Conservatism is the blind and fear-filled worship of dead radicals.

There’s also this:

The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical
invents the views. When he has worn them out, the conservative adopts them.
–Mark Twain

In either sense the author of this article is a Conservative. He assumes the attitudes of his parents generation and the generation he grew up in, which, coincidently is also mine, is somehow ‘better’ even tough it came about by disrupting what went before (even to the point of global warfare and bring us to the point of thermonuclear destruction), and that the cycle of history repeating, yet again, to change what he grew up with, is a bad thing.

Can you say “Dinosaur”?

Anton Aylward

Walmart: An economic cancer on our cities

Not a new idea.
Back in the last century I took a vacation to lake Placid and they had successfully passed a city ordinance banning Wal-mart and a few other ‘big box’ stores.

Much has bee written on how the likes of Chapters/Indigo has destroyed the small bookstore.

Reality is big malls have destroyed the high street stores. That goes for the big supermarkets as well. Yes old downtown – not least of all Danforth and similar, still has the High Street with small groceries and butcher shops, but that seems absent from new Town in the outskirts of the cities. Large Malls are more efficient. And the ‘indoors’ more suited to Canadian Winters. But that doesn’t explain their popularity in warmer climates.

Jane Jacobs had a lot to say on how the high street forms an important part of the social fabric of the city in a way that a mall simply cannot.

The logic of this article applies not just to Wal-Mart bt to the whole principle of big box stores and the ‘efficiencies’ they have. Manpower costs, and reducing manpower though automation, be it RFID tagging or through the use of self-serve checkouts as we are seeing in Loblaws and Metro/Dominion are all cost-reduction exercises. Such machinery counts
on the the books as an ‘asset’ and has tax advantages whereas employees are an ongoing cost and come with an increasing set of liabilities, legal, operational and otherwise.

This too, Amazon understands.


Anton Aylward

On the real cost of wind farms

Please read “ELECTRICITY UTILITY PHILOSOPHY” and ask yourself questions like:

  • Have the “greens” high-jacked the agenda?
  • Have our politicians succumbed to popular opinion rather than hard economic facts?
Wind farm wide

Wind farm wide (Photo credit: rarebeasts)

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Anton Aylward

A photographic study in light, Rembrant style and others

The Night Watch by Rembrandt, c.1642 (or The M...

The Night Watch by Rembrandt

This is important, but it isn’t quite what I want to say.

Lets leave it at this is an excellent first order approximation.

Where I differ is the ‘studio‘.
If you’re in a studio everything changes vs being on the street.
Its the ONE situation where a fixed lens is so superior to a zoom lens that nothing else count. Its the one situation where having plenty of aperture doesn’t count since you’re supplying all the light and in the place you want.

But I picked up on the Rembrandt because of the light and the dark.

I’ve seen these pictures at the Tate in London and at the Met in NYC I’ve seen others, one in particular in a private collection that is almost all dark black and brown except for the pinpoint of light catching the cheek the eye and the nose. Its fabulous.  It was position in a ‘dark corner’ with a pin-spotlight on the face — all to enhance the dramatic effect of the light and dark.

Rembrandt: Self Portrait (Altman)

Rembrandt: Self Portrait

The point here is Light and Dark.

And that’s not something most studio shots have … any way, any how.
All to many look like the shots of the the author on the back flap of a hardback book or something from a fashion magazine. Oh, and that includes the you-can-never-get-it-to-look-like-that pictures of food in adverts and on packaging.

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Anton Aylward

Augmented Reality Contact Lenses


English: This is the logo of Wikitude World Br...

This is the logo of Wikitude World Browser, a mobile Augmented Reality software (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Add this to the iPhone app that you can point to the night sky and it overlays the names of the planets and constelations …

or perhaps


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Anton Aylward

Could you live without your iPhone, Facebook or coffee?

  Nearly 15 percent reported they would rather go without sex, and 40
percent would abstain from coffee instead of disconnecting.  18 percent wouldn’t mind forgoing their daily shower. That’s dedication to electronics.

Coffee cup icon

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Anton Aylward

A Reason for Vegetarianism

According to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, entitled “Livestock’s Long Shadow
livestock use 30 percent of the land surface of the planet, generate more greenhouse gases than transport:

The livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent — 18 percent — than transport.

Livestock now use 30 percent of the earth’s entire land surface, mostly permanent pasture but also including 33 percent of the global arable land, [which is] used to produce feed for livestock

The livestock business is among the most damaging sectors to the earth’s increasingly scarce water resources, contributing among other things to water pollution, euthropication and the degeneration of coral reefs.

Meat and dairy animals now account for about 20 percent of all terrestrial animal biomass.

Perhaps we need a Kyoto Accord for livestock as well.

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Anton Aylward

How the Celts are Responsible For Everything

Cover of "How the Irish Saved Civilizatio...

Cover of "How the Scots Invented the Mode...

These two books look like they go hand in hand, but actually they tell very different stories in very different ways about very different things. One might say that they also reflect the troubles between the two Celtic heritages in Northern Ireland today, but that would be stretching the matter.

Cahill’s book originally came out in hardcover in 1995. I have the trade paperback which came out in 1996. It has full colour front plates and 8 pages of photographs as well as many in-line illustration and maps. It is about two-thirds (218 pages of text) the thickness of Arthur Herman’s book (429 pages of text) in paperback, and therein lies part of the point of this review. Continue reading