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Category Archives: Whales
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Thanks to Kerb for knocking this together for us in record time. The idea came out of a skype conversation between Andrew and and Adele. She asked where she could get a t-shirt of Splashy Pants holding a banner that said FREE JUNICHI. Somehow that morphed into… yeah… and then we need the game. Oh, wait, we need A GAME.
Kerb built this for us the way we build all our flash assets: separate layer for the text, fetched from an XML file whose location is specified in a texturl variable, so that any office can easily translate, localize links, and nationalize the game by changing the XML, uploading it to their site, and changing the texturl variable in the embed code. OK, that was geeky, I know, but it’s one of the policies I’m proud of at Greenpeace International –we build to share.
And on that note, while I’m increasingly concerned about Junichi and Toru — they’re doing fine, but the aggro they are suffering in a country that has no concept of civil disobedience is deep and probably long-term — the universal response of Greenpeace and Greenpeace supporters worldwide has been an inspiring thing to behold.
Our internal politics are about what you’d expect of a bunch of headstrong, stubborn anti-authoritarians. Agreeing globally to focus on one thing is harder for us than it should be. But when something like this happens, and two of our own are under threat, it’s astounding how quickly those coöperative muscles leap into action, and before you know it every website of every office in every country is making a single, unified demand:
From the Greenpeace International website: “Japanese police have arrested two Greenpeace activists for exposing a whale meat scandal involving the government-sponsored whaling programme. The two activists, Junichi Sato, 31, and Toru Suzuki, 41, are being investigated for allegedly stealing a box of whale meat which they presented as evidence.”
Junichi is a friend of mine. While we’re holding back on unleashing the cyberdogs or calling in Amnesty on this one until we see if there’s a way to get him and Toru out of jail, please Digg this story and watch for an action ask. Powerful forces in Japan have decided to strike back, and we can’t let them get away with it.
This is an attack on Greenpeace in Japan. The biggest giveaway? The first clue we had that Junichi and Toru were to be arrested came from television media in Japan ringing up to ask if we had a comment on the “impending arrest.” So it was leaked to television beforehand, presumably to ensure images of Greenpeace activists in handcuffs. In Japan, 90% of those arrested are convicted, so the presumption of guilt is very strong. The police then raided five locations — the activists’ homes, our two offices, and the hotel where Junichi was staying. A phone call would have brought them in — we documented every step of how we obtained the whale meat box and turned it over to the prosecutor. We made it clear that Junichi and everyone else involved were available day or night to help in the investigation.
So why the heavyhanded treatment? Could it be we hit a nerve with somebody? Watch this space, this could get ugly. Under Japanese law, Junichi and Toru can be held for a month without charges. And if the authorities were honest, those charges would be “embarassing corrupt Japanese officials that don’t like a spotlight being shown upon their cosy little operation which is bilking Japanese taxpayers out of US$4.7 million a year to kill whales for science nobody needs and whale meat that nobody buys.” In my book, that ain’t a crime.
I was helping my 9 year old son with his school report on whales. We were going through all the usual gee whiz facts about how big a blue whale can be — heart the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, 50 people could stand on its tongue.
But he hit on the genius question for getting the concept across to his school friends: “How big would it be if it was in the playground at school?”
Well now, Google Earth to the rescue!!! We took a screenshot of the playground at the school. My plan was to actually take a tape measure and walk out 29 metres at the real playground, note position, and then drop in an image of a whale to scale. But looky up there in the top bar of icons in Google Earth … is that a RULER?
Why yes it is. And easy as pie, we laid out 29 metres on the playground image and knew exactly how big our whale would be, in a way that all Doon’s school pals would immediately understand.
Between the poster of the result, a recording of whale sounds found on the internet, and a bit of baleen borrowed from Steve and Kelly, he had an excellent set of multimedia additions to his presentation.
He got a near-perfect 9 out of 10, and a big happy hug from his proud parents.
The largest ever recorded blue whale was actually 33 metres long, a fact we discovered after laying this out, so our whale in the playground is more an average sort of awesomely large beasty.
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Go make your own…
Back in the early 80s when I and a ragged army of canvassers were knocking on doors to tell people about nuclear weapons tests and acid rain, we were lucky if, among the average 60 homes we visited in a night, three had heard of Greenpeace.So it was a big thing when, in 1984, Steve Sawyer happened upon a clue in the New York Times crossword puzzle: Environmental pressure group. Ten letters.
It was one of those informal indicators that you have passed into the zeitgeist — in some sense, you had made it into the fog of public consciousness if you were big enough to be teased out of its grey matter by a clue.
Yesterday, my colleague Kirsten told me that she was half watching the Dutch Postcode Lottery television quiz last weekend when the contestant, for 30,000 Euros, was asked
When Greenpeace recently held a contest to name a humpback whale, the winner was.…
A) Mister Splashy Pants
B) Mister Big
C) Mister Darcy
Alas, despite Kristen yelling at the TV screen that it was “Mister Splashy Pants, you idiot,” the contestant flubbed it. He may have boned up on his countries and capitals before walking out on stage. He may have memorized the kings and queens of England. But not being a Reddit reader or internet stumbler cost the guy 30,000 smackers.
Now, what has all this got to do with the price of beans in Boston? I like to measure. I like to be able to take a fuzzy concept like “raising consciousness” and turn it into a data set you can evaluate and set targets against. So I propose a new informal advocacy Zeitgeist benchmark here, for measuring success in getting a concept out into the public domain:
Has the concept you are promoting appeared on a quiz show or in a crossword puzzle?
We can extend this to other Zeitgeist benchmarks:
Has your mother heard about it?
Has Letterman or Leno made a joke about it?
Has it been ridiculed on Slashdot?
Has it appeared in a fashion magazine?
Does it have a Facebook Group?
Does it have a copycat Facebook Group?
Has more than one person tried to make money on it on Cafepress?
Has it been on the Simpsons?
Has Reddit featured it as a logo?
If you make 2 out of 10, you´re a meme
If you make 5 out of 10, you´re a trend.
If you make 7 out of 10, you’re a phenomenon.
If you make 10 out of 10, you´re headed for Wired´s Tired list.
Mister Splashy is still waiting for his Simpsons episode and his Late Night joke, but other than that, he has made it.
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