Just after the strike of midnight last night, I made a short film about my Christmas lights – both inside and outside. If you listen carefully you can hear some of the new year fireworks going off in the background.
I must admit, until this week I had never heard of Harriet Tubman. I am not an American so have a bit of an excuse about not previously knowing anything about the first African American women to appear on a US bank note.
She was born into slavery but after escaping, perhaps motivated by her strong Christian faith, devoted her life to helping others escape and build meaningful lives for themselves. She was later involved in the campaign for women’s sufferage.
I think she is a worthy choice for commemoration on the $20 bill. It is not because she is a woman or that she is an African American, it is because what she did was right. She stood up to tyranny, took personal risks for the sake of others and was unwavering in her cause. Her place on the banknote was earned on pure merit. She is an inspiration to all those who stand up to current vested interests who use their power oppress others.
As a campaigner for women’s suffrgage she is very relevant to the present day where democracy is gradually being subverted under the pressures of globalisation. In America and in countries around the world large corporations can buy politicians via the lobbying process and manipulate opinion via their control of the media. We live in a world of backroom deals and legislation by treaty, a world where the simple vote has become a debased currency. It is a world where currency itself is debased due to the hidden machinations of our system of central banks which often amount to organised officially sanctioned theft (her presence on the $20 bill in this sense is rather ironic).
We live in a world where cherished freedoms are being eroded, the kind of basic freedoms that were hard won by people like Harriet Tubman. Her presence on the $20 bill will be an ever present reminder of the idea that the only antidote to tyranny is eternal vigilance.
Harriet Tubman provides a lesson on how a person from humble origins and limited, or even non-existent means, can achieve great things. She also reminds us that freedom isn’t free and that to be free often requires real effort and sometimes even personal sacrifice.
That hijacking the other day is starting to look like a remake of the film Airplane.
Imagine the scene, first you have the smiling Brit from Leeds playing it cool and arranging a ‘selfie’. Then you have the person who who took the video footage of him having that selfie getting the best angle from a few rows back. Finally a selfie from one of the stewardesses comes to light – after all the crew can’t be outdone by the passengers!
Then use your imagination. Everyone on the plane suddenly whips out their iPhones, pods, pads – they all want a selfie to commemorate the occasion! You can just picture the scene in the cabin. Row upon row of panic stricken passengers, arms outstretched trembling fingers gripping mobile devices as the hijacker looks on. Every detail of the drama is captured, the black box suddenly becomes redundant and leaves the plane in a disgust. Every detail of the unfolding drama is captured from multiple angles, each shot has its own hero/cameraman. Everyone is suddenly a movie star, what a day for the ego!
I dread to imagine the situation in the cockpit! Perhaps the pilot kept muttering “Don’t call me Shirley!” into his iPhone as the drama unfolded?
No wonder the hijacker guy gave up he must have had stage fright!
Anyway, good to see a return of the British stiff upper lip in the face of adversity. Glad it all turned out okay in the end.
On the news this morning, there was a segment about a new Antarctic survey ship that is being built at Cammell Laird in Birkenhead. They mentioned that they wanted the public to suggest a name so I suggested the name Piri Reis.
This was in reference to the Piri Reis Map (below) copied by the Ottoman Admiral Piri Reis in 1513.
What is remarkable about the map is that it shows an accurate representation of the Antarctic coastline, currently invisible beneath the ice sheet and only visible via remote sensing techniques. It is also remarkable because the copied map was produced before Antarctica was even discovered.
Of course this presents a problem for modern science and has let to speculation that there was a civilisation that predates our own that developed in the Fertile Crescent. It has caused some to suggest that the map may even have been produced by Extra Terrestrials. (see article HERE that covers both explanations)
Nevertheless, I still think Peri Reis would be a good name. I emailed them with the following (with a couple of typos corrected in the version below):
“I have a great name for your survey ship. I would call it the Piri Reis[.]
This would mean that the ship would be named after the famous ice free map of Antarctica[. T]he map dates from before the discovery of Antarctica and therefore creates a bit of mystery. The idea of an ice free Antarctica also raises the topical issue of the changing climate. It is inclusive in that it uses the name of a Turkish admiral. The map also demonstrates cartographic excellence, something on which good exploration relies[…]. In short it captures the imagination and potentially opens minds to new possibilities.”
I was walking in Wakefield shopping precinct and hear a rather captivating tune so, since I had a camera with me, decided to capture it. What a talented musician and a hauntingly beautiful tune.
‘These are not the droids you are looking for’ – Imperial Stormtroopers spotted outside Debenhams.
Of course the above line is from Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope when Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi are talking their way past an imperial checkpoint at Mos Eisley Spaceport on Tatooine. However, instead of that ‘wretched hive of scum and villainy’ (another line from the film) they were outside Debenhams in Trinity Walk, Wakefield. Judging by the presence of the person with the green buckets nearby it seems that rather than looking for the Death Start plans this time they were helping to raise money for charity. So good of the Imperial Starfleet to send personnel the assist in such a mission. The Empire cannot be all that bad!
UPDATE: Looked on Twitter and it seems that they were collecting for Wakefield Hospice – a very worthy cause. And TrinityWalk has it on its website – shows how much I have kept up with current events in Wakefield this week!