Saturday, January 2, 2010

Basics of Media Law

In this time of New Year’s Resolutions, a good one is to spend an hour brushing up on the legal basics of journalism that are relevant to blogging.

Yes, eyes glaze over immediately.  But as on-line publishers of  news and pictures we should know the rules.

What can we copy, how do we attribute properly, what’s our responsibility for comments, what are the legal limits on expressing opinions about people, products, or places?

NPR’s On the Media podcast recently discussed “The Calculated Risk of Blogging” with Bob Cox, founder of the Media Bloggers Association.  They track legal issues and court decisions relevant to bloggers, and have sponsored a free online course that teaches  the basics of privacy, copyright, defamation, and media law.  It’s from a US perspective, but well worth taking time to review with a cup of tea.  (If there is a European equivalent, please comment?)

There is a 20-question pre-test on the MBA website, but you can navigate directly to News University without taking it.

Simply register on the site and use this link to  Online Media Law: The Basics for Bloggers and Other Online Publishers to start the course.

Friday, January 1, 2010

It gets quiet fast

‘Back in the Netherlands after  largely uneventful series of flights.  In fact, everything went great right up until I hit the Belgian border (why am I surprised…)

My two bags failed to materialize in Brussels, then the trains were thoroughly broken on the way back to Maastricht.   Nonetheless, I arrived back in town in time to enjoy the fireworks at midnight, a really impressive display that lasted for almost an hour.  It was accented with a lovely light snowfall that enhanced the glow and muffled the bangs; the icing on rooftops and tree branches this morning was a picturesque welcome to the new year.

New Year’s day has been quiet in all regards.  The streets are largely deserted, all of the shops and services are closed.  The Christmas market is open through the weekend, so I enjoyed some wine and sausage and watched the ice skaters in lieu of food shopping.

Its been two weeks of living busy among family and friends, keeping a hectic pace of errands, and hearing English everywhere.  In contrast, the world seems very isolated and silent in the Netherlands today.  I took the opportunity to catch up with mail, read a book, go for walks in the snow, avoiding work and computer mail.  Time enough next week; it feels good to just ease back into the Dutch flow today without making demands of myself or others.

Except to wish for Lufthansa to find the luggage.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wrapping up the holidays (and the moles)

It’s been a good holiday in the Pacific NW, time with family, friends, and merchants.  I think I got everything done on my list, the suitcase will be bulging with sundries, hard-to-find seasonings, and books.  Not much to carry on, though.  The airline is advising to take as little as possible: one sack, plan to leave it in the overhead storage during the first and last hour.

I had a brainstorm to expand my recipe file back in Maastricht.  King County’s library system is fantastic at finding and delivering books to the local branch, so I put them on the hunt for Dutch cookbooks.  They came up with three good ones, pictured, and I copied a couple of dozen traditional recipes.  The theory is that these will make good use of Dutch ingredients and cooking methods.  I’ll post the outcome.

‘making my daughter some gehakt balls tonight: there’s a dish OI can do with confidence.

The returns are done and the sales are spent.  The washer in my apartment is hard on clothes, and I need to recycle a number of shirts and pants.  The outlet stores had 60% off sales, so I stocked up on replacement bits to see me through the winter.  It’s still amazing how much wreckage the hoards do to a store: shelves in disarray, merchandise on the floor, discarded clothes filling the fitting rooms.

The warm weather has brought moles back into the yard, raising mounds beneath the winter moss.  I tried traps years ago, but have had better luck with trying to stink them out.  It’s a simple four-step process:

1)  Use a bulb planter to take the core out of the mound.

2) Feel around the walls to find the holes that lead in and out of the mound.  Stuff paper towel into the holes.

3)  Pour a quarter cup of gasoline into the hole, soaking the paper towel.

4)  Quickly cover up the hole and press the dirt flat with a heel.

Repeat on every mound and for a few days in a row.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Reflections on the NWA bomb attempt

Jasper Schuringa The news here is filled with emerging details of the attempted bombing of Northwest flight 253.  It’s unsettling to watch: I’ve taken that flight lots of times, working my way from Amsterdam towards Minneapolis or Seattle.   It sounds like it all happened extremely quickly; I always wonder how fast or how correctly I would react in that sort of situation.  Hopefully it never comes to a test.

It’s hard for me to imagine how the bomber got through security at Schiphol. The airport has security screenings at each gate, so even transfer passengers would have gone through an interview, a metal detector, and a baggage screening before boarding.  Pat-downs aren't unusual, and the news reports from Amsterdam say that all security procedures were followed. 

merry-crisis I’m sure that this incident is going to make a mess of flying for months to come. Security will ratchet up, screenings will slow down, there will be new carry-on restrictions.  I’ve already received notice from Air Canada to arrive an hour earlier and to limit myself to only one carry-on bag (excess checked baggage fees arte being waived).  Whole-body scanner / sniffers are a likely part of the future.

I also remember the mix of people typically on that flight, a plane often filled with tall, fit Dutch students and businessmen. I have little doubt that at least a dozen people would have been more than a match for the  bomber.  The Sunday morning interview programs are featuring interviews with Jasper Schuringa, the young film director who apparently leaped all the way across the cabin (20J to 19A) as the incident began.  His description of putting a hammerlock on the bomber sounds like a case example of Dutch directness.