Cleaning up the Upcoming Events block in Drupal

We use the Events module to manage workshops here in the Teaching & Learning Centre, and use the “Upcoming Events” block to display the next few workshops on our website. Works great, but the default text leaves a bit to be desired. By default, it shows the event title, and “(2 days)” – which indicates that the event begins in 2 days.

But, it could also mean that the event lasts for 2 days.

So, I just added a trivial change to the event.module file, adding the following line of code at line 1847 (on my copy of the file, which was checked out on June 4, 2007):

$timeleft = 'starts in ' . $timeleft;

That changes the text indicator in the “Upcoming Events” block to read:

(starts in 2 days)

Which is much clearer in meaning. Easy peasy. I just have to remember to edit the module after updating, if this doesn’t make it in…

Who’s evacuating the Lebanese civilians?

With the big brouhaha about the evacuation of Canadian (and American, and British, and French, etc…) civilians from Lebanon, I think we're all kind of missing the point.

There are 50,000 Canadian citizens in Lebanon right now. The Canadian government has had to rent some cruise ships to ferry them to Cyprus and/or Turkey for further evacuation by air. The process is taking longer than many would like, but our people are being transported out of the danger zone. Prime Minister Stephen Harper even used his PM Airbus (our version of Air Force One) to ferry a few Canadian civilians out (Stephen, that was a classy move. The only thing that would have topped that, since you were already in the area, would have been to clear everyone off of the plane, fill it to the gills with civilians, and wait for it to return with backup).

But, what about the Lebanese civilians? Are they officially to be left behind? If it's too dangerous for a North American or European civilian, why is it considered an acceptable risk for the 3.5 million innocent civilians that happen to live in the region?

I may be extremely naiive, but this really seems like a perfect candidate for the UN blue helmets to move in and help restore order. Likely a much better allocation of military and humanitarian resources than securing oil supplies to maintain a particular hegemony…

With the big brouhaha about the evacuation of Canadian (and American, and British, and French, etc…) civilians from Lebanon, I think we're all kind of missing the point.

There are 50,000 Canadian citizens in Lebanon right now. The Canadian government has had to rent some cruise ships to ferry them to Cyprus and/or Turkey for further evacuation by air. The process is taking longer than many would like, but our people are being transported out of the danger zone. Prime Minister Stephen Harper even used his PM Airbus (our version of Air Force One) to ferry a few Canadian civilians out (Stephen, that was a classy move. The only thing that would have topped that, since you were already in the area, would have been to clear everyone off of the plane, fill it to the gills with civilians, and wait for it to return with backup).

But, what about the Lebanese civilians? Are they officially to be left behind? If it's too dangerous for a North American or European civilian, why is it considered an acceptable risk for the 3.5 million innocent civilians that happen to live in the region?

I may be extremely naiive, but this really seems like a perfect candidate for the UN blue helmets to move in and help restore order. Likely a much better allocation of military and humanitarian resources than securing oil supplies to maintain a particular hegemony…

On the Pope’s Funeral

Watching the footage of the Pope’s funeral, I was struck first with how wide a cross section of the planet attended. Not just Catholics, but Jews, Arabs, Hindi, etc. all coming to pay respects for sprituality in general, and a great man in particular. This was followed closely (and sadly) with this thought:

Perfect target for bioterrorism. A vial released in the middle of the 2 million-strong crowd, if it took a week or two to kick in, would be spread undetected into almost every community on the planet within a week.

I sure hope security in Rome was tight, but can’t see any way this could be prevented if someone was determined.

It’s really frigging depressing that this type of thinking keeps coming into my head, especially prompted by what should be joyous celebrations of humanity. It comes up around the Olympics as well, and any other large-scale global event.

Watching the footage of the Pope’s funeral, I was struck first with how wide a cross section of the planet attended. Not just Catholics, but Jews, Arabs, Hindi, etc. all coming to pay respects for sprituality in general, and a great man in particular. This was followed closely (and sadly) with this thought:

Perfect target for bioterrorism. A vial released in the middle of the 2 million-strong crowd, if it took a week or two to kick in, would be spread undetected into almost every community on the planet within a week.

I sure hope security in Rome was tight, but can’t see any way this could be prevented if someone was determined.

It’s really frigging depressing that this type of thinking keeps coming into my head, especially prompted by what should be joyous celebrations of humanity. It comes up around the Olympics as well, and any other large-scale global event.

Censorship in the Calgary Herald?

I was just reading the newspaper while eating lunch. I never read the newspaper. Perhaps this is why…

On page 8 of the first section, was an article titled “US warns allies over arms sales to China” (several articles in today’s paper start with X Warns Y over Z). Normally not a big thing. Didn’t even plan on reading the article. But, a huge photo above the article piqued my interest. It had been obviously manipulated to remove information that was part of the context of the photograph. It is a photo of some protesters, who are showing signs/placards/banners denouncing Condi’s visit to Seoul.

But, the biggest banner, front and centre in the photo, had a fake white box edited into it. Directly over top of the URL of the protestor’s organization. How is that not part of the message? It’s ok to post the photo of the banner, as long as the readers of the paper can’t find the information to fill in the backstory?

The URL they blocked out is http://alltogether.or.kr – I can’t read Korean, so I can’t verify the content. The content doesn’t matter.

This is exactly why I prefer to get my news from multiple sources.

I do realize that the photo was likely not touched up by the Herald, but somewhere between the photographer and the Associated Press food chain. The end result is the same – my local newspaper is censored.

I was just reading the newspaper while eating lunch. I never read the newspaper. Perhaps this is why…

On page 8 of the first section, was an article titled “US warns allies over arms sales to China” (several articles in today’s paper start with X Warns Y over Z). Normally not a big thing. Didn’t even plan on reading the article. But, a huge photo above the article piqued my interest. It had been obviously manipulated to remove information that was part of the context of the photograph. It is a photo of some protesters, who are showing signs/placards/banners denouncing Condi’s visit to Seoul.

But, the biggest banner, front and centre in the photo, had a fake white box edited into it. Directly over top of the URL of the protestor’s organization. How is that not part of the message? It’s ok to post the photo of the banner, as long as the readers of the paper can’t find the information to fill in the backstory?

The URL they blocked out is http://alltogether.or.kr – I can’t read Korean, so I can’t verify the content. The content doesn’t matter.

This is exactly why I prefer to get my news from multiple sources.

I do realize that the photo was likely not touched up by the Herald, but somewhere between the photographer and the Associated Press food chain. The end result is the same – my local newspaper is censored.