Tag Archives: Heather Haley

Poetrypalooza in Vancouver (Canada)

I have news about three upcoming poetry events in Vancouver. The two which are occurring this week are: a lunchpoems@SFU (Simon Fraser University) reading on Sept. 19, 2012 and an On Edge [Poetry] Reading on Sept. 20, 2012 at Emily Carr University.

From the SFU lunchpoems@SFU webpage,


Wed, 19 Sept. 2012 12:00 PM


Teck Gallery in SFU’s Harbour Centre Campus, 515 West Hasting Street, Vancouver, BC

Featured Poets

George Bowering, Canada’s first Poet Laureate and co-founder of the avante-garde poetry magazine TISH, was born in the Okanagan Valley. A distinguished novelist, poet, editor, professor, historian and tireless supporter of fellow writers, Bowering has authored more than eighty books, including works of poetry, fiction, autobiography, biography and youth fiction.

Cecily Nicholson has worked with women of the downtown eastside community of Vancouver for the past ten years and is currently the Coordinator of Funds with the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre. She has collaborated most recently as a member of the VIVO Media Arts collective, the Press Release poetry collective and the No One is Illegal, Vancouver collective. Triage is her first book.

This week’s  second poetry reading features (from the Talon Books On Edge Reading Series webpage Note: I have removed a link),

Daniel Zomparelli and Heather Haley

Reading is at 7 pm in SB 406 and is free and open to the public:

September 20 – Daniel Zomparelli + Heather Haley

Emily Carr University SB 406
Granville Island, Vancouver
Coast Salish Territories

Bios for Authors:

The Siren of Howe Sound, trailblazing poet, author, musician and media artist Heather Haley pushes boundaries by creatively integrating disciplines, genres and media. Published in numerous journals and anthologies, including Geist, the Antigonish Review, sub-Terrain, the Vancouver Review, ROCKsalt: Anthology of BC Poetry and the Verse Map of Vancouver, Haley is the author of poetry collections Three Blocks West of Wonderland (Ekstasis Editions) and Sideways (Anvil Press), her work described as “a highly fueled poetic ride; fierce, racy, full of stiletto irony and verve, yet rife with sensitivity.”

Daniel Zomparelli is the editor of Poetry Is Dead magazine. He helped start up the Megaphone Magazine Community Creative Writing Program that offers free creative writing classes for low-income and homeless people. He writes for several magazines in Vancouver. His first book of poems, Davie Street Translations, was published in 2012 by Talonbooks.

Heather Haley ((Siren of Howe Sound) has been mentioned on this blog several times as has her upcoming Visible Verse Festival, which is the third event being mentioned in this posting.

The 2012 edition of Visible Verse is being moved its traditional November time period to October but it’s still being held at Pacific Cinématheque. The Visible Verse webpage on the Cinématheque website offers more information about this year’s festival,

Visible Verse, Pacific Cinémathèque’s annual festival of video poetry, moves this year from its customary November spot to a new, post-VIFF October date and goes really, really global! Vancouver poet, author, musician, and media artist Heather Haley curates and hosts our celebration of this hybrid creative form, which integrates verse with media-art visuals produced by a camera or a computer. The 2012 festival will be selected from entries received from more than 50 international artists, who submitted nearly 100 video poems.  Submissions include works from Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Russia, the U.S., and Canada. And, for the first time, we are exchanging video poems with Argentina’s VideoBardo Festival and featuring a selection from their 2012 program. As well, we are happy to host Alberta artist Phillip Jagger, who will perform his poetry and also present “Reigning In Chaos: Words Into Video,” a hands-on workshop demonstrating the use of handcrafted video, a Kaos pad, iPod, and video jamming software.

Video poetry and poetry film festivals and sites are now popping up all over the world; Pacific Cinémathèque’s Visible Verse Festival is proud to maintain its position as North America’s sustaining venue for artistically significant video poetry. As founder of both the original Vancouver Videopoem Festival and Visible Verse, Heather Haley has provided a platform for the genre since 1999, and has also vigorously contributed to the theoretical knowledge of the form. Ms. Haley was recently honoured for her work with a 2012 Pandora’s Literary Award. She has also been invited to present a keynote address, on the subject “Videopoetry: New Perspectives on an Interdisciplinary Practice,” at the 4th VideoBardo Festival in Buenos Aires in November.

You can find a list of the video poets/artists and the work being presented on the Visible Verse 2012 webpage.

See the Voice: Visible Verse celebrates its 10th anniversary

Local poet, Heather Haley is celebrating the 10th anniversary of her video poetry festival tonight and tomorrow, Nov. 19 – 20, 2010 at Vancouver’s Pacific Cinemathèque film theatre (1131 Howe St., Vancouver, Canada). There are two nights of video poetry. The first half of the evening features popular pieces from past showings and the second half of the evening includes a live poetry performance and this year’s entries. Saturday, November 20, 2010, a free panel discussion about poetry and making the voice visible is being presented at 4 pm.

Writer Mark Harris has written an article about Heather and the festival for the Georgia Straight newspaper,

Southern B.C. is one of the most creative corners of Canada, but without a guide you’d never know it. Filmmakers give the cold shoulder to animators, novelists stare through playwrights, and so on. Artists in different disciplines don’t hang out at the same bars, and they rarely attend each other’s parties. In the Lower Mainland, the introspection upon which all creativity depends extends to the social scene as well.

This probably explains why Quebec-born, Bowen Island–based poet-curator Heather Haley discovered the hybrid discipline of video poetry while living abroad. In Vancouver to host the 10th-anniversary edition of Visible Verse at the Pacific Cinémathèque (1131 Howe Street) on Friday and Saturday (November 19 and 20), Haley explained to the Georgia Straight how she discovered her unusual vocation.

“I lived in Los Angeles for many years,” she said while sipping tea on Davie Street. “I was going to be a rock star,” she added, laughing.

You can find the rest of the article here.

ISEA 2011 in Istanbul and Heather Haley appears at The Shebeen Club August 2010 meeting

The International Symposium on Electronic Arts (ISEA) in 2011 is taking place in Istanbul, Turkey. A call for proposals and submissions has been posted. Here’s more from the notice I received,

call for panel, artwork, paper and workshop proposals: ISEA2011, 17th International Symposium on Electronic Art, Istanbul, Turkey, September 14 -21 2011

The ISEA2011 Istanbul exhibition will coincide with the Istanbul Biennial. Invited are submission from artists, scientist and academics interested in how the digital and electronic media are re-shaping contemporary society and behaviors.

The conference website is here. The deadline for submissions is December 2, 2010.

Heather Haley; the Siren of Howe Sound

I’ve mentioned Heather here many times but never before as the Siren of Howe Sound (hats off to Raincoaster for coining this phrase). A well known local poet, Heather has been a punk rocker, video poetry innovator, and more in her pursuit of  image, sound, and language as expressive forms rising from deeply felt personal experience. Her next appearance is on August 16, 2010 at the Irish Heather (in Vancouver, Canada) as the guest for The Shebeen Club’s August 2010 meeting. From the news release,

Who: The Shebeen Club and the Siren of Howe Sound, Heather Haley

What: A night of multimedia delights celebrating the recent publication of Three Blocks West of Wonderland. (For more information on the Shebeen Club (http://theshebeenclub.com/about/)

When: Monday, August 16, from 7pm-9pm

Where: The Shebeen, behind the Irish Heather, 212 Carrall Street

As always, $20 buys you dinner and a drink and some of the finest literary company this city has to offer. No RSVP is required, but it¹s appreciated so we have a rough idea of whether we need to reserve the snug or to lay in crowd control! [go to The Shebeen Club website to RSVP]

Join us as we celebrate the release of Heather Haley¹s latest book of poetry, Three Blocks West of Wonderland. Heather is both the digital AND actual troubadour of the West Coast, from Bowen Island to Venice Beach, and for the first time she¹ll be bringing her multimedia performance experience to the Shebeen Club. There will be poetry. There will be prose. There will be beauty. There may be song. And there WILL be videopoems, a dynamic genre that seems to have sprung fully formed from the forehead of the Siren of Howe Sound herself.

We¹re very proud to help celebrate a pivotal local literatus¹s latest launch! And that¹s my allotment of ³L¹s² for the week right there.

Visual Art and poetry in Vancouver (Canada) on the July 17, 2010 weekend

Elsa Bluethner is holding an open house at her new studio:

Artist Annex Studios at 750 Terminal Avenue, Vancouver, BC
Saturday and Sunday, July 17~18, and would love it if you would come.
I’ll [Elsa] be there from 10am-5pm ~ call me on my cell and I’ll meet you at the front door. 604 375-5252

Come for a visit, a chat, have some treats and see a variety of works I’ve been working on for the last two years.

The address is “Storage on Terminal”, 750 Terminal Avenue (near the Home Depot close to Clark Street). Drive around the back, through the gates of the Rex Motel and Spa. Parking is free.

Dos et Gants Rouges, 14x11, oil on canvas Elsa Bluethner

As for the poetry part of this posting:

Join Heather Haley and friends with host Kedrick James at a multimedia extravaganza to CELEBRATE the publication of her newest collection of verse, “Three Blocks West of Wonderland.” Enjoy READINGS by Heather and special guests poets/authors Peter Trower, Jenn Farrell, Shannon Rayne with MUSIC by Heather’s punk rock comrade in arms-Impatient Youth, Sleepers, Woundz and No Alternative alumnus-Chris Coon!

Saturday, July 17, 2010
7:00pm – 10:00pm
W2 @ Storyeum
151 W. Cordova
Vancouver, BC
It’s the world PREMIERE and as well of our new VIDEOPOEMS, “HOW TO REMAIN” and “BUSHWHACK!”
AND we are welcome to join in the W2 Folk Festival after-parties for 1/2 price ($5) starting at 10:30pm.

Happy Weekend!

Math, science and the movies; research on the African continent; diabetes and mice in Canada; NANO Magazine and Canada; poetry on Bowen Island, April 17, 2010

About 10 years ago, I got interested in how the arts and sciences can inform each other when I was trying to organize an art/science event which never did get off the ground (although I still harbour hopes for it one day).  It all came back to me when I read Dave Bruggeman’s (Pasco Phronesis blog) recent post about a new Creative Science Studio opening at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California (USC). From Dave’s post,

It [Creative Science Studio] will start this fall at USC, where its School of Cinematic Arts makes heavy use of its proximity to Hollywood, and builds on its history of other projects that use science, technology and entertainment in other areas of research.

The studio will not only help studios improve the depiction of science in the products of their students, faculty and alumni (much like the Science and Entertainment Exchange), but help scientists create entertaining outreach products. In addition, science and engineering topics will be incorporated into the School’s curriculum and be supported in faculty research.

This announcement reminds me a little bit of an IBM/USC initiative in 2008 (from the news item on Nanowerk),

For decades Hollywood has looked to science for inspiration, now IBM researchers are looking to Hollywood for new ideas too.

The entertainment industry has portrayed possible future worlds through science fiction movies – many created by USC’s famous alumni – and IBM wants to tap into that creativity.

At a kickoff event at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, five of IBM’s top scientists met with students and alumni of the school, along with other invitees from the entertainment industry, to “Imagine the World in 2050.” The event is the first phase of an expected collaboration between IBM and USC to explore how combining creative vision and insight with science and technology trends might fuel novel solutions to the most pressing problems and opportunities of our time.

It’s interesting to note that the inspiration is two-way if the two announcements are taken together. The creative people can have access to the latest science and technology work for their pieces and scientists can explore how an idea or solution to a problem that exists in a story might be made real.

I’ve also noted that the first collaboration mentioned suggests that the Creative Science Studio will be able to “help scientists create entertaining outreach products.” My only caveat is that scientists too often believe that science communication means that they do all the communicating while we members of the public are to receive their knowledge enthusiastically and uncritically.

Moving on to the math that I mentioned in the head, there’s an announcement of a new paper that discusses the use of mathematics in cinematic special effects. (I believe that the word cinematic is starting to include games and other media in addition to movies.)  From the news item on physorg.com,

The use of mathematics in cinematic special effects is described in the article “Crashing Waves, Awesome Explosions, Turbulent Smoke, and Beyond: Applied Mathematics and Scientific Computing in the Visual Effects Industry”, which will appear in the May 2010 issue of the NOTICES OF THE AMS [American Mathematical Society]. The article was written by three University of California, Los Angeles, mathematicians who have made significant contributions to research in this area: Aleka McAdams, Stanley Osher, and Joseph Teran.

Mathematics provides the language for expressing physical phenomena and their interactions, often in the form of partial differential equations. These equations are usually too complex to be solved exactly, so mathematicians have developed numerical methods and algorithms that can be implemented on computers to obtain approximate solutions. The kinds of approximations needed to, for example, simulate a firestorm, were in the past computationally intractable. With faster computing equipment and more-efficient architectures, such simulations are feasible today—and they drive many of the most spectacular feats in the visual effects industry.

This news item too brought back memories. There was a Canadian animated film, Ryan, which both won an Academy Award and involved significant collaboration between a mathematician and an animator. From the MITACS (Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems)  2005 newsletter, Student Notes:

Karan Singh is an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto, where co-directs the graphics and HCI lab, DGP. His research interests are in artist driven interactive graphics encompassing geometric modeling, character animation and non-photorealistic rendering. As a researcher at Alias (1995-1999), he architected facial and character animation tools for Maya (Technical Oscar 2003). He was involved with conceptual design and reverse engineering software at Paraform (Academy award for technical achievement 2001) and currently as Chief Scientist for Geometry Systems Inc. He has worked on numerous film and animation projects and most recently was the R+D Director for the Oscar winning animation Ryan (2005)

Someone at Student Notes (SN) goes on to interview Dr. Singh (here’s an excerpt),

SN: Some materials discussing the film Ryan mention the term “psychorealism”. What does this term mean? What problems does the transition from realism to psychorealism pose for the animator, or the computer graphics designer?

KS: Psychorealism is a term coined by Chris {Landreth, film animator] to refer to the glorious complexity of the human psyche depicted through the visual medium of art and animation. The transition is not a problem, psychorealism is stylistic, just a facet to the look and feel of an animation. The challenges lies in the choice and execution of the metaphorical imagery that the animator makes.

Both the article and Dr. Singh’s page are well worth checking out, if the links between mathematics and visual imagery interest you.

Research on the African continent

Last week I received a copy of Thompson Reuters Global Research Report Africa. My hat’s off to the authors, Jonathan Adams, Christopher King, and Daniel Hook for including the fact that Africa is a continent with many countries, many languages, and many cultures. From the report, (you may need to register at the site to gain access to it but the only contact I ever get is a copy of their newsletter alerting me to a new report and other incidental info.), p. 3,

More than 50 nations, hundreds of languages, and a welter of ethnic and cultural diversity. A continent possessed of abundant natural resources but also perennially wracked by a now-familiar litany of post-colonial woes: poverty, want, political instability and corruption, disease, and armed conflicts frequently driven by ethnic and tribal divisions but supplied by more mature economies. OECD’s recent African Economic Outlook sets out in stark detail the challenge, and the extent to which current global economic problems may make this worse …

While they did the usual about challenges, the authors go on to add this somewhat contrasting information.

Yet the continent is also home to a rich history of higher education and knowledge creation. The University of Al-Karaouine, at Fez in Morocco, was founded in CE 859 as a madrasa and is identified by many as the oldest degree-awarding institution in the world.ii It was followed in 970 by Al-Azhar University in Egypt. While it was some centuries before the curriculum expanded from religious instruction into the sciences this makes a very early marker for learning. Today, the Association of African Universities lists 225 member institutions in 44 countries and, as Thomson Reuters data demonstrate, African research has a network of ties to the international community.

A problem for Africa as a whole, as it has been for China and India, is the hemorrhage of talent. Many of its best students take their higher degrees at universities in Europe, Asia and North America. Too few return.

I can’t speak for the details included in the report which appears to be a consolidation of information available in various reports from international organizations. Personally, I find these consolidations very helpful as I would never have the time to track all of this down. As well, they have created a graphic which illustrates research relationships. I did have to read the analysis in order to better understand the graphic but I found the idea itself quite engaging and as I can see (pun!) that as one gets more visually literate with this type of graphic that it could be a very useful tool for grasping complex information very quickly.

Diabetes and mice

Last week, I missed this notice about a Canadian nanotechnology effort at the University of Calgary. From the news item on Nanowerk,

Using a sophisticated nanotechnology-based “vaccine,” researchers were able to successfully cure mice with type 1 diabetes and slow the onset of the disease in mice at risk for the disease. The study, co-funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), provides new and important insights into understanding how to stop the immune attack that causes type 1 diabetes, and could even have implications for other autoimmune diseases.

The study, conducted at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, was published today [April 8, 2010?] in the online edition of the scientific journal Immunity.

NANO Magazine

In more recent news, NANO Magazine’s new issue (no. 17) features a country focus on Canada. From the news item on Nanowerk,

In a special bumper issue of NANO Magazine we focus on two topics – textiles and nanomedicine. We feature articles about textiles from Nicholas Kotov and Kay Obendorf, and Nanomedicine from the London Centre for Nanotechnology and Hans Hofstraat of Philips Healthcare and an interview with Peter Singer, NANO Magazine Issue 17 is essential reading, www.nanomagazine.co.uk.

The featured country in this issue is Canada [emphasis mine], notable for its well funded facilities and research that is aggressively focused on industrial applications. Although having no unifying national nanotechnology initiative, there are many extremely well-funded organisations with world class facilities that are undertaking important nano-related research.

I hope I get a chance to read this issue.

Poetry on Bowen Island

Heather Haley, a local Vancouver, BC area, poet is hosting a special event this coming Saturday at her home on Bowen Island. From the news release,

VISITING POETS Salon & Reading

Josef & Heather’s Place
Bowen Island, BC
7:30  PM
Saturday, April 17, 2010

PENN KEMP, inimitable sound poet from London, Ontario

The illustrious CATHERINE OWEN from Vancouver, BC

To RSVP and get directions please email hshaley@emspace.com

Free Admission
Snacks & beverages-BYOB

Please come on over to our place on the sunny south slope to welcome these fabulous poets, hear their marvelous work, *see* their voices right here on Bowen Island!

London, ON performer and playwright PENN KEMP has published twenty-five books of poetry and drama, had six plays and ten CDs produced as well as Canada’s first poetry CD-ROM and several videopoems.  She performs in festivals around the world, most recently in Britain, Brazil and India. Penn is the Canada Council Writer-in-Residence at UWO for 2009-10.  She hosts an eclectic literary show, Gathering Voices, on Radio Western, CHRWradio.com/talk/gatheringvoices.  Her own project for the year is a DVD devoted to Ecco Poetry, Luminous Entrance: a Sound Opera for Climate Change Action, which has just been released.
CATHERINE OWEN is a Vancouver writer who will be reading from her latest book Frenzy (Anvil Press 09) which she has just toured across the entirety of Canada. Her work has appeared in international magazines, seen translation into three languages and been nominated for honours such as the BC Book Prize and the CBC Award. She plays bass and sings in a couple of metal bands and runs her own tutoring and editing business.

I have seen one of Penn Kemp’s video poems. It was at least five years ago and it still resonates with me . Guess what? I highly recommend going if you can. If you’re curious about Heather and her work, go here.

Comment(s) on proposed Canadian nanotechnology legislation; UK goverment responds to nanotechnology and food report; skinput: a nanotechnology application some day?; Twisted poets

I solicited comments (on the proposed bill or interview) from a number of individuals  on the Canadian nanotechnology scene representing business, science, and non-governmental organizations on the heels of last week’s interview with Peter Julian, the Canadian MP, who has tabled a private member’s bill for nanotechnology legislation. The first to respond was,

Gilbert Walker
Interim Board Member, Nano Ontario
Professor, University of Toronto

Brief Bio: Professor Walker is the Canada Research Chair Professor for Molecular Microscopy and Nanophotonic Devices at the University of Toronto and Director of its Nanotechnology Network. He is the Scientific Director of BiopSys, the NSERC Strategic Network for Bioplasmonic Systems, which is developing nanotechnology based diagnostics for lung cancer and leukemia. See http://www.biopsys.ca/English/ Walker serves the National Institutes of Health of the United States by reviewing their proposed activities in nanomedicine. He is a founding member of Nano Ontario and has served provincial and federal advisory groups on nanotechnology.

With regard to the details of what is being proposed in Bill C-494, I have not had a chance to examine the Bill in detail so I will have to reserve Judgment on that. However, nanotechnology will impact nearly all elements of industry and society; and Canada clearly needs a strategy for investment and development – a part of which involves a regulatory framework. Nano Ontario is deeply supportive of both Canadian and international efforts to develop standards and appropriate, scientifically informed regulation in nanotechnology. A number of Nano Ontario’s members are involved in standards and, through Health Canada and Environment Canada, efforts to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to provide an evidence-based regulatory framework for nanotechnology. A clear regulatory framework is a critical condition for serious investment and development in nano science and technology.

Thank you Professor Walker for your comments. As other comments arrive I will be posting them here.

Peter Julian interview Part 1,Part 2, Part 3,  Comments: nanoAlberta

UK government responds to House of Lords report on nanotechnologies and food

Julian mentioned in part 2 of the interview that he and his team had reviewed and used some ideas from the select report into nanotechnologies and food from the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee. By coincidence, the UK government responded to the report’s recommendations here on March 25, 2010.

I’ve quickly skimmed the response and the government indicates that the first four recommendations (commercialization of the technology in the food industries) have already been dealt with through a number of initiatives.

The recommendations for filling knowledge gaps were a mixed bag with the government accepting a number of them. There was some hesitation about insisting that food companies report about their nanomaterials research even though the committee recommended that the information be kept in a confidential database so companies don’t lose their competitive advantages.  While the government agreed with the recommendation in principle it was felt that implementation is problematic and they are attempting to address the issue by other means. (Given that Julian’s proposed legislation includes a nanomaterials reporting plan, I wonder how it will be implemented in light of the difficulties expressed by the UK government.)

Recommendations for definitions achieved a much higher rate of acceptance than previous sections. Other recommendations in very brief sections are highly specific to the UK situation but the ones on regulatory frameworks were interesting as the UK is cooperating with the European Union efforts. The report reveals some of the complications arising from regulation when you have to take into account evolving international agreements.

The final section focuses on recommendations for communication and public engagement. At the time I commented on the report, I felt that these were the weakest recommendations. The government agreed with most of these recommendations or noted that they are addressed in the UK National Nanotechnologies Strategy.


The body as a user interface is not an especially new concept but this seems like a very engaging approach to the idea. From the news item on Nanowerk,

Certainly not nanotechnology (yet) but you can clearly see where this could be going with nanoelectronic devices and sensors…

Skinput is a novel, non-invasive technology that appropriates the human body for acoustic transmission and allows the skin to be used as an input surface. Research findings on this always available, naturally portable, on-body finger input system will be presented at the next ACM Computer-Human Interaction (CHI) conference, CHI 2010.

Nanowerk also has a ‘skinput’ video with someone demonstrating what this could look like. The CHI conference will take place, April 10-15, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Twisted Poets

On the local (Vancouver) poetry scene, Pandora’s Collective is presenting an evening of the stuff on April 1, 2010. I wonder if they’re going to have an April fool theme?


Thursday, April 1, 2010

7:00pm – 9:00pm

Cambie Bakery & Cafe
312 Cambie St (north of Hastings)
Vancouver, BC

In the spirit of Vancouver all poets are welcome. Come out and bring your best, favourite, newest, oldest poems, and share in an evening of literary surprises.

Hosts: Bonnie Nish and Sita Carboni

Whether hosting the poetry slams at the Café Deux Soleils, hosting the radio show “Wax Poetic” on Coop Radio 102.7, Wednesday afternoons or performing as part of Vancouver’s Slam Poetry team, R.C. Weslowski has worked hard to advance and promote the art of spoken word in our city.

Poet, author, musician and media artist Heather Susan Haley has been published in numerous journals and anthologies, her poetry collections Sideways (Anvil Press) and Three Blocks West of Wonderland (Ekstasis Editions) described as “supple and unusual,” “brawny and uncompromising.”

Dem bones at McGill; innovation from the Canadian business community?; the archiving frontier; linking and copyright

I have a number of bits today amongst them, Canadian nanotechnology, Canadian business innovation, digital archiving, and copyrights and linking.

A Quebec biotech company, Enobia Pharma is working with Dr. Marc McKee on treatments for genetic bone diseases. From the news item on Nanowerk,

The field is known as biomineralization and it involves cutting-edge, nanotech investigation into the proteins, enzymes and other molecules that control the coupling of mineral ions (calcium and phosphate) to form nano-crystals within the bone structure. The treatment, enzyme replacement therapy to treat hypophosphatasia, is currently undergoing clinical testing in several countries including Canada. Hypophosphatasia is a rare and severe disorder resulting in poor bone mineralization. In infants, symptoms include respiratory insufficiency, failure to thrive and rickets.

This research in biomineralization (coupling of mineral ions to form nano-crystals) could lead to better treatments for other conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, and kidney stones.

McKee’s research is being funded in part by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research  From the Nanowerk news item,

McKee’s research program is a concrete example of how university researchers are working with private sector partners as an integral part of Canada’s innovative knowledge economy, and the positive outcomes their collaborations can offer.

I don’t think that businesses partnering with academic institutions in research collaborations is precisely what they mean when they talk about business innovation (research and development). From a March 2, 2010 article about innovation by Preston Manning in the Globe & Mail,

Government competition policy and support for science, technology, and innovation (STI) can complement business leadership on the innovation front, but it is not a substitute for such leadership. Action to increase innovation in the economy is first and foremost a business responsibility.

Manning goes on to describe what he’s done on this matter and asks for suggestions on how to encourage Canadian business to be more innovative. (Thanks to Pasco Phronesis for pointing me to Manning’s article.) I guess the problem is that what we’ve been doing has worked well enough and so there’s no great incentive to change.

I’ve been on an archiving kick lately and so here’s some more. The British Library recently (Feb.25.10) announced public access to their UK Web Archive, a project where they have been saving online materials. From the news release,

British Library Chief Executive, Dame Lynne Brindley said:

“Since 2004 the British Library has led the UK Web Archive in its mission to archive a record of the major cultural and social issues being discussed online. Throughout the project the Library has worked directly with copyright holders to capture and preserve over 6,000 carefully selected websites, helping to avoid the creation of a ‘digital black hole’ in the nation’s memory.

“Limited by the existing legal position, at the current rate it will be feasible to collect just 1% of all free UK websites by 2011. We hope the current DCMS consultation will enact the 2003 Legal Deposit Libraries Act and extend the provision of legal deposit through regulationto cover freely available UK websites, providingregular snapshots ofthe free UK web domain for the benefit of future research.”

Mike Masnick at Techdirt notes (here) that the British Library has to get permission (the legal position Dame Brindley refers to) to archive these materials and this would seem to be an instance where ‘fair use’ should be made to apply.

On the subject of losing data, I read an article by Mike Roberts for the Vancouver Province, January 22, 2006, p. B5 (digital copy here) that posed this question, What if the world lost its memory? It was essentially an interview with Luciana Duranti (chair of the Master of Archival Studies programme and professor at the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia, Canada) where she commented about the memories we had already lost. From the article,

Alas, she says, every day something else is irretrievably lost.

The research records of the U.S. Marines for the past 25 years? Gone.

East German land-survey records vital to the reunification of Germany? Toast.

A piece of digital interactive music recorded by Canadian composer Keith Hamel just eight years ago?

“Inaccessible, over, finito,” says Duranti, educated in her native Italy and a UBC prof since 1987.

Duranti, director of InterPARES (International Research on Permanent Authentic Records in Electronic Systems), an international cyber-preservation project comprising 20 countries and 60 global archivists, says original documentation is a thing of the past.

I was shocked by how much ‘important’ information had been lost and I assume still is. (Getting back to the UK Web Archives, if they can only save 1% of the UK’s online material then a lot has got to be missing.)

For anyone curious about InterPARES, I got my link for the Roberts article from this page on the InterPARES 1 website.

Back to Techdirt and Mike Masnick who has educated me as to a practice I had noted but not realized is ‘the way things are done amongst journalists’. If you spend enough time on the web, you’ll notice stories that make their way to newspapers without any acknowledgment of  their web or writerly origins and I’m not talking about news releases which are designed for immediate placement in the media or rewritten/reworked before placement. From the post on Techdirt,

We recently wrote about how the NY Post was caught taking a blogger’s story and rewriting it for itself — noting the hypocrisy of a News Corp. newspaper copying from someone else, after Rupert Murdoch and his top execs have been going around decrying various news aggregators (and Google especially) for “stealing” from News Corp. newspapers. It’s even more ridiculous when you think about it — because the “stealing” that Rupert is upset about is Google linking to the original story — a step that his NY Post writer couldn’t even be bothered to do.

Of course, as a few people pointed out in the comments, this sort of “re-reporting” is quite common in the traditional news business. You see it all the time in newspapers, magazines and broadcast TV. They take a story that was found somewhere else and just “re-report” it, so that they have their own version of it.

That’s right, it’s ‘re-reporting’ without attributions or links. Masnick’s post (he’s bringing in Felix Salmon’s comments) attributes this to a ‘print’ mentality where reporters are accustomed to claiming first place and see acknowledgments and links as failure while ‘digital natives’ acknowledge and link regularly since they view these as signs of respect. I’m not going to disagree but I would like to point out that citing sources is pretty standard for academics or anyone trained in that field. I imagine most reporters have one university or college degree, surely they learned the importance of citing one’s sources. So does training as a journalist erode that understanding?

And, getting back to this morning’s archival subtheme, at the end of Clark Hoyt’s (blogger for NY Times) commentary about the plagiarism he had this to say,

Finally, The Times owes readers a full accounting. I asked [Philip] Corbett [standards editor] for the examples of Kouwe’s plagiarism and suggested that editors’ notes be appended to those articles on the Web site and in The Times’s electronic archives. Corbett would not provide the examples and said the paper was not inclined to flag them, partly because there were some clear-cut cases and others that were less clear. “Where do you draw the line?” he asked.

I’d draw it at those he regards as clear. To do otherwise is to leave a corrupted record within the archives of The Times. It is not the way to close the case.

One last thing, Heather Haley is one of the guests appearing tonight in Rock Against Prisons.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

7:00pm – 11:55pm

Little Mountain Gallery

195 east 26th Ave [Vancouver, Canada]

More details from my previous announcement about this event here.

Bee silk; minnows and silver nanoparticles; David Cramb at U of Calgary finds way to measure nanoparticles in bloodstream; Rock Against Prisons

I had not realized that there’s an international drive to produce artificial insect silk until this morning. According to a news item on Nanowerk,

CSIRO [Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation] scientist Dr Tara Sutherland and her team have achieved another important milestone in the international quest to artificially produce insect silk. They have hand-drawn fine threads of honeybee silk from a ‘soup’ of silk proteins that they had produced transgenically.

These threads were as strong as threads drawn from the honeybee silk gland, a significant step towards development of coiled coil silk biomaterials.

“It means that we can now seriously consider the uses to which these biomimetic materials can be put,” Dr Sutherland said.

“We used recombinant cells of bacterium E. coli to produce the silk proteins which, under the right conditions, self-assembled into similar structures to those in honeybee silk.

If I understand this rightly,  ‘tinkering’ with bacterium E. coli makes this a transgenic system and I believe it’s a GEO (genetically engineered organism) and not a GMO (genetically modified organism). In any event, it’s also biomimetic because this process mimics a biological system.

On the practical side of things, insect silk could potentially be used for tough, lightweight textiles and medical applications such as sutures. You can read more about this in the Nanowerk news item.

A Purdue University study has added more evidence that silver nanoparticles are toxic to fish. According to the news item on physorg.com,

Tested on fathead minnows ╨ an organism often used to test the effects of toxicity on aquatic life — nanosilver suspended in solution proved toxic and even lethal to the minnows. When the nanosilver was allowed to settle, the solution became several times less toxic but still caused malformations in the minnows.

“Silver nitrate is a lot more toxic than nanosilver, but when nanosilver was sonicated, or suspended, its toxicity increased tenfold,” said Maria Sepulveda, an assistant professor of forestry and natural resources whose findings were published in the journal Ecotoxicology. “There is reason to be concerned.”

Coincidentally, Dr. David Cramb, director of the Nanoscience Program and professor in the department of Chemistry at the University of Calgary, and his colleagues have published a paper about a new methodology they are developing to measure the impact of nanoparticles (no specifics about which ones) on human health and the environment. From the news release on Eureka Alert, [Mar.4.10 ETA since I think the Eureka doesn’t last long, here’s a link to the same news on Azonano]

Cramb, director of the Faculty of Science’s nanoscience program, and his researchers have developed a methodology to measure various aspects of nanoparticles in the blood stream of chicken embryos. Their discovery is published in the March online edition of Chemical Physics Letters.

“With the boom in nanomaterials production there is an increasing possibility of environmental and/or human exposure. Thus there is a need to investigate their potential detrimental effects,” says Cramb. “We have developed very specialized tools to begin measuring such impacts.”

To close today off, I got a news release from poet Heather Haley (Vancouver, Canada based) about her latest local appearance,

Heather Haley was a member of Vancouver punk bands, the all-girl Zellots and the .45s with Randy Rampage and Brad Kent. Long-lost video of the Zellots will be screened and Heather will interviewed for a live webcast. She will perform poetry from her new collection, “Three Blocks West of Wonderland.” Hope to *see* you there.

ROCK AGAINST PRISONS Live Video Retrospective         Tuesday, March 9, 2010         7:00pm – 11:55pm
Little Mountain Gallery         195 east 26th Ave         Vancouver, BC
On March 9th, the social forces will be mounting an assault on the staid and the bland. From a Punk Rock Swap Meet to a Celebrity Auction, from an ‘umplugged’ stage to a Grand Slam Poetry Karaoke by some of the big stars of 1979, we are getting the Old Gang Together. We review the fabulous footage by doreen grey from the seminal 1979 gig and plan out the 2010 resurgence of the Vancouver Explosion.
Come on out and celebrate Vancouver’s living heritage with those who made it happen: Rabid, Female Hands, Devices, Zellots, Tunnel Canary, AKA, Subhumans. Special appearances. Door Prizes. Live Webcast and Kissing Booth. Fishnet stockings. Oodles of prime swag and fixins. Your every 1979 Punk nightmare come beautifully true.

You can also check out Heather’s latest work on her website.

15th Century painting techniques and nanotechnology; Conference Board of Canada and copyright; Real Vancouver Writers; Better Living

Kate Nichols is a fellow at TED. She is also a painter who trained in 15th century techniques. From the article by Kristen Philipkoski on Boing, Boing,

Nichols learned painting as painters did in 15th century Flanders: by apprenticing under a master and learning to make her own paints. She became skilled at creating the type of complex colors only possible as light travels through thin layers of oil glaze. But she eventually found that no amount of layering could recreate the complexity she saw in the Morpho butterfly’s wings. [I previously posted about nanotech and the colour of butterfly wings here.]

As Philipkoski goes on to recount, the desire to recreate the colours of a Morpho butterfly’s wings is what led her to working with nanotechnology but, first, working with mathematician, Judy Holdener, she learned why she couldn’t recreate those colours with her traditional techniques. Nichols eventually contacted someone at a nanotech laboratory in her pursuit and went on to become the first artist-in-residence at that lab (the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley). (You can see images of her work at the article on the Boing Boing site.)

More recently she was awarded the TED fellowship I’ve already mentioned. TED stands for Technology Entertainment Design and it started out as an annual conference. You can find out more about TED here and more about this year’s annual conference here. As for the fellowship, it sounds a bit like a mentoring programme but you can read the description for yourself here.

One last quote from the article,

“I love thinking about plasmon resonance–likely, because I paint motion and grew up dancing,” Nichols said. When light comes into contact with a metal, electrons are displaced. Because the electrons are attracted to the nuclei of the metallic atoms, the electrons fall back into their original positions only to be exiled again, over and over. This oscillatory dance is called a plasmon and we perceived it as color when the wavelength falls within the visible spectrum.

On the copyright (intellectual property) front, Michael Geist is commenting on the latest Conference Board of Canada’s report. As you may recall, the Conference Board was embarrassed last year when it released a report that had large chunks plagiarized from a US lobby group’s materials. You can read more about the contretemps here on Techdirt and Geist’s comments here. From Geist’s blog,

The new report, which weighs in at 113 pages, was completed by Ruth Corbin, a Toronto-based IP expert. Corbin started from scratch, reading a broad range of materials, conducting interviews, and leading a private roundtable on the issue (I participated in the roundtable and met separately with her). While there is much to digest, the lead takeaway is to marvel at the difference between a report cribbed from lobby speaking points and one that attempts to dig into the issues in a more balanced fashion. Three examples:

First, the report puts intellectual property policy into perspective as just one portion of the innovation agenda, noting that over-protection can be lead to diminishing returns…

W2 Community Media House (in Vancouver, Canada) is hosting a writer’s series that has two more weeks to go. The next event is Feb. 17, 2010.

This description from Heather Haley (poet) highlights a couple of radio interviews and her upcoming Real Vancouver Writers appearance,

Real Vancouver Writers Series at the W2 Culture and Media House
Located across from the refurbished Woodwards Building in Downtown Vancouver
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
7:00pm – 10:00pm
112 E. Hastings
“Poet, author, musician and media artist Heather Susan Haley pushes boundaries by creatively integrating disciplines, genres and media. Published in numerous journals and anthologies, her poetry collections Sideways (Anvil Press) and Three Blocks West of Wonderland (Ekstasis Editions) have been described as ³supple and unusual” and ³brawny and uncompromising.² She was an editor for the LA Weekly, publisher of Rattler and the Edgewise Cafe, one of Canada’s first electronic literary magazines. Architect of the Edgewise ElectroLit Centre, the Vancouver Videopoem Festival and SEE THE VOICE: Visible Verse at Pacific Cinémathèque, her works have been official selections at dozens of international film festivals. Haley has gained renown as an engaging performer, sharing her poetry and music with audiences around the world. Most recently she toured eastern Canada and the U.S. in support of her critically acclaimed AURAL Heather CD of spoken word songs, Princess Nut.”
She will be appearing with Teresa McWhirter, Lee Henderson, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Nikki Reimer, Chris Hutchinson, Dina Del Bucchia, Amber Dawn, Donato Mancini, Sonnet L¹Abbe, Jonathon Wilcke and Catherine Owen.
Heather will be live in ‘The Artist Lounge’ hosted by J Peachy on CJSF 90.1 FM on Tuesday Feb 16th at 7pm. Hope you can tune in, its also online at http://wwwcjsf.ca. The next day, the day of the reading, Wed. Feb. 17 Heather will be visiting friends Steve Duncan and RC Weslowki on Wax Poetic @ 2pm (PST) 102.7fm CFRO Co-op Radio, http://www.coopradio.org/. *See* you there!

I like to feature more about the arts and new media on Fridays or, at least, to have something amusing here. Today, I’ve managed both now that I’ve come to this item by Alissa Walker in Fast Company ,

Who knew that paper clips and staples could teach such smart life lessons? Everyday objects you might find at your desk are the stars in Hints for Better Living , a short film by Los Angeles-based designer Mike Afsa, who also does work for companies like Chiat\Day and Quiksilver.

It’s charming and it gave me a whole new perspective on paper clips and staples. Happy Weekend!

Butterfly wings inspire nanotechnology; Canadian nanoscience and business breakthrough?; Visible Verse

The iridescence and colours that you see on butterflies and other insects result from  nanoscale structures not pigment as was believed previously. From a news item on Azonano,

Insects’ colours and their iridescence (the ability to change colours depending on the angle) or their ability to appear metallic are determined by tiny nano-sized photonic structures (1 nanometre=10-9 m) which can be found in their cuticle. Scientists have focused on these biostructures to develop devices with light emitting properties that they have just presented in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics.

A joint team of researchers from the State University of Pennsylvania and the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid have developed a new technique for replicating these structures. From another news item on Azonano about the same research,

Up to now, the methods used to replicate biostructures on a nanometric scale have been limited, often damaging the original biostructure because of the high temperatures and toxic, corrosive substances that were applied.

The new method uses a normal temperature and avoids toxins.

Potential uses for this material (if and when it comes to market) include covers that maximize solar light cell absorption and optical diffusers, as well as, other optically active structures. What I found most intriguing is that the scientists have replicated the colours and iridescence that we see on butterfly wings and insects. I would imagine then that these structures will be quite beautiful (assuming the materials retain those properties at sizes much larger than butterflies and insects) and the aesthetics could help to increase consumer interest in solar cells.

There’s an interesting article (Canada strikes nanotech gold)  in Canadian Business by Rosie Lombardi about FP Innovations and a new material, NanoCrystalline Cellulose, which the company is readying for the market. I suspect FP could stand for ‘forest products although I couldn’t confirm it from viewing their website although the company tag line is highly suggestive, Creating forest sector solutions.

From the article,

Although the concept of NCC has been around for decades and its source — any kind of tree — is abundant, Berry and his team have cracked the code in developing a process to produce large-scale quantities economically.

NCC has many unusual properties, in addition to having all the biodegradable attributes associated with its cellulose source.  Materials scientists are in awe of NCC’s extraordinary potential due to its strength, optical properties, conductivity, reactivity, self-assembling, anti-microbial, self-cleaning and bio-compatibility characteristics. “NCC is beautiful,” says Orlando Rojas, chair of the American Chemical Society.

Design plans for a plant have been developed by NORAM Engineering +  Constructors,  a Vancouver-based company, and three Canadian forestry companies are currently vying for the right to host the federally-funded facility (competition results should be announced by the end of 2009).

Why all the excitement from forest companies? From the article,

But it’s hard-nosed economic imperatives, not just green goodwill, that are driving the battered forestry sector to pour millions into research for new products that may ensure its survival.

Over the past two years, the Canadian forestry sector lost 50,000 jobs and more than 250 mills closed or suspended operations, according to Avrim Lazar, CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada.

The sector has been bleeding red ink since 2006, says Craig Campbell, leader of the Canadian forestry group at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “It’s been hard hit by the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Most of our lumber goes to the U.S. but housing starts were down 75% last winter. And newsprint is another key area: demand has been contracting every quarter since 9/11.”

As a result, the forestry industry is looking to transform itself by switching its focus beyond tissue paper and two-by-fours to producing higher-value materials with advanced technology.

I’ve commented before about Canadians being seen as ‘drawers of water and hewers of wood’ and so I find this development is very much in line with our history.  From the article,

Having conquered the science and start-up issues, Canadian researchers now have yet another mountain to climb. The real hurdles in developing NCC’s potential lie in economics, and the complicated realm of working with other industries outside the familiar confines of the forestry sector to develop new industrial applications.

To facilitate cross-industry development, a new R&D network called ArboraNano was set up this year through Industry Canada’s Business-led Centres of Excellence program. The initiative received $8.9 million in funding over four years, and is working with industry partners such as Bell Helicopter and Kruger, and scientists at McGill and other universities to develop and test new materials made with NCC for various industries.

Canada is doing a lot of things right, says Jones. [Phil Jones, Atlanta-based director of new ventures at IMERYS Mineral Ltd.] “Supporting the application development side is the critical bit. People talk about the valley of death: university guys spin out ideas, and then industry has to commercialize them. But that part is enormously expensive, and the five-year payback is usually low. Anyone in industry doing this is punished by Wall Street.”

I think Canadians support companies through their ‘valley of death’ stage quite well. We just don’t grow the companies afterward; we sell them, which contributes in part to the lack of  industrial innovation in Canada. No company gets big enough to support a large industrial laboratory.

Kudos to Rosie Lombardi for an exciting and hopeful article. Do read the article, there’s a lot I couldn’t include here.

My nitpicks have nothing to do with the writer but I would like to have seen some information about health and safety and environmental issues as per NCC production and some scientific information about NCC. I expect the magazine, Canadian Business, does not encourage forays into topics that are not usually considered part of the business scene but if business is based on economics, then health, safety, and environmental concerns are important and ignored economic issues in many business magazines. As for more science information, I have to admit that’s my personal preference.

Heather Haley’s annual videopoetry festival, See the Voice: Visible Verse 2009 will take place on November 19, 2009, 7:30 pm at Pacific Cinematheque (1131 Howe St., Vancouver, Canada). You can read more about the festival here. This year, in addition to the short videos, the festival features a live performance by Gabrielle Everall from Australia.