Category Archives: Media

If You’re Going to Blow it, Blow it BIG!

Photo Credit: Reserve Bank of Australia

As part of my job, I send out communications to travelers all the time. Most of our communications are proofed by four or five people, more if the client actually reads the copy.  Every now and then we find a typo after something has gone to print and we tend to say the same thing “How can so many people look at something and not see the error?”

Well now the Reserve Bank of Australia is asking this same thing. Their new £50 note with Edith Cohen (first woman member of the Australian parliament) has a typo.  In teeny tiny letters, as part of the background, the note says repeatedly “It is a great responsibilty to be the only woman here and I want to emphasize the necessity which exists for other women being here.”  Missing an “I” in the word responsibility.  46 MILLION of these notes are now in use around the country.  Wow – when I mess up, it usually only has an impact on 100 folks or so.

Australia says they won’t recall the notes but will correct the mistake when they print the next batch of £50 notes. This makes me wonder if folks will hang onto the notes as a curiosity that won’t be repeated, like that rare Beanie Baby or Geordi Laforge action figure without a visor.

Do you collect anything?

If I Be Waspish, Beware My Sting

Now that it’s about time to start big works in the garden and yard, it’s time to start worrying about bees, wasps and mosquitos.

Just this morning I read that according to a new study that just came out, they’ve determined that wasps can use a form of logical reasoning to figure out unknown relationships from known relationships. What this means is that wasps can determine that if X is greater than Y, and Y is greater than Z, X is greater than Z. For most of history we have thought this was something unique to humans. In just the past 30 years, scientists have discovered that some vertebrate animals (monkeys, birds, fish) can reason like this, but wasps are the first invertebrate that shows this ability.

This news means I am really hoping not to have to spray any wasp nests this summer.

How do you co-exist with all the little critters?

Hero Cult?

In this world of super heroes and avengers, it seems as if everyone needs to get on the band wagon. I see in the news that an actor has been named for a re-make of “He-Man”.  I didn’t realize there had even been an original movie, although I do remember the original tv cartoon series.

Apparently the first movie was a flop (or as they say in Hollywood “a commercial failure”) which leads me to wonder why anyone feels the need to try again. But then I see that the latest Avengers movie completed Sherman-tanked its way over box office records last weekend, so who am I to say that people don’t want more super hero movies.

I guess in a anxiety-filled world, imagining that there are super beings who can control a little more of their destiny is somehow comforting?

Tell me about the worst film you’ve ever seen. (Or worst book you’ve ever read.)

Her Cheatin’ Heart

This weekend’s post comes to us from Ben.

My car radio displays the name and artist of whatever is playing.

Like most of us here, I have a wide range of musical tastes. Also I’m a channel surfer whether radio or TV and consequently as I’m flipping through radio stations I see a song called “She Just Started Liking Cheatin’ Son”.

Mind Blown! I don’t know if I should be appalled at the lack of moral character of this woman, or the bad grammar, or the cheatin’ son. And the song started and the man sang “She Just Started Liking Cheatin’ Songs”.

Oh. “Songs”. That’s different. I’m still offended by the lousy grammar. More than her possibly loose character evidently. But at least the son isn’t cheating. Ugh, I cannot do country music unless it’s Johnny Cash.

It’s a song by John Anderson. Evidently, it’s humorous. I wouldn’t know; I didn’t listen to any more of it.

Ever cheat? Get away with it?

Potentiality

My brain knows that English is a flexible language and I know that all the words we use today were at some point made up. But when I saw the above banner, I don’t know what upset me more – that there is a banner with a made-up word hanging on the side of a school or that it was going from down to up!

Anything outraging you today?

Virtual Wanderlust

One of the interesting parts of being a writer, advertising my books, and having an active website is tracking from where my website visitors come. Thanks to Google Analytics, I can see (approximately) each visitor’s log-in location. I initially expected most visitors to come from the Owatonna area and Minnesota in general. To a large part, they do live in those areas. But over the last three years, my biggest number of “fans” hailed from someplace called Samara, Samara Oblast in Russia. And this is #1 by a huge margin out of more than 840 locations that have been detected on my website in the last three years.

Samara is a large city (3 million +) southeast of Moscow on the Volga River. Lest you think my books have been translated into Russian and become wildly popular in a town not too far from the NW border of Kazakhstan, the real reason for my seeming popularity is probably something else.

I probably was the target of an intense robo-campaign to hack into my website by a company or an individual who mistakenly thought I had anything of value on my author website like credit card numbers. Fat chance. I don’t handle ANY transactions on my website and don’t intend to! The “Samarians” haven’t checked in with me in the past year or more, which further points to a hacking campaign that was eventually discontinued.

Nevertheless, it got me to haul out my world atlas and start looking up all the strange places where people come from who have checked out chrisnorbury.com for one reason or another. Because I’ve been in love with map reading since I was about four years old, this is a fun diversion for me. I can page through an atlas for hours, noticing towns, states, bodies of water, islands, and mountains that stir my imagination and get me wondering what a trip to that exotic (or not-so-exotic) place would be like.

So I’ve wasted lots of time wondering about other locations that show up on my Google Analytics dashboard: St. Petersburg, Russia; Vienna, Austria; Naples, Italy; Kailua, Hawaii; and Hull, England. All are places in the top 70 locations that have landed on my website over the past three years.

That leads to my question: With what places do you have a strange or unique connection that is not physical OR personal (as in having relatives or friends who live there)?

Science and Me

Today’s post comes from Steve Grooms.

I grew up thinking some people are born with science and math competence, but many are not. I long ago concluded I am stuck in the “not” group. Not surprisingly, I performed badly in the two science courses my high school forced me to take.

When I went to college I honored my mother’s fervent wish by declaring a pre-med major. That didn’t last long. In my freshman year I got a D in inorganic chemistry, a “gentleman’s D” that should have been an F. I switched my major to American Studies. I instantly felt relief because history and literature classes were fun and almost easy for me. I regretted being such a dunce in science classes, but it seemed obvious that I was never meant to be a scientist.

Life has ways of challenging our prejudices. As an outdoorsman and outdoor journalist I was a passionate advocate for intelligent management of the planet and all things that live on it. And guess what? I couldn’t fight for sound wildlife management without considering the science used to defend different management programs. When thoughtful people began dreading climate change, I realized that ignorance about science was a luxury our society cannot afford.

Writing about wolf management obliged me to confront tricky science issues. The state of Alaska has long been enthusiastic about lethal wolf management. Alaska’s game managers claim scientific research proves that killing wolves will boost populations of caribou and moose. Many wolf biologists disagreed. I was forced to consider whether Alaska’s wolf studies were sound science or just excuses to kill wolves.

At about the same time, I met wolf researcher Dave Mech, the most dedicated scientist I’ve known personally. Dave helped me see the dangers of sloppy science. After working with him I realized (to my astonishment) that I respect the scientific method. It is an intellectual discipline that makes it possible to test ideas about the world we live in.

My personal odyssey of coming to admire science has been boosted enormously by the way so many politicians have decided that science is their enemy. The current occupant of the White House hates science. He dismisses the wisdom of genuine experts, favoring the whims of his “gut.” As recently as 1990 many Republican politicians supported science research, but that seems like a distant memory now. I’m convinced that the anti-science culture so prevalent today is anti-intellectualism in a form that threatens all the values I hold dear.

I once would have cheerfully admitted to “hating science.” No more. I dream of a time when science and its rigorous style of problem solving is respected again. If we are to make America great again, that would be a smart place to start.

Does science touch on your life now? Do you have feelings about science?