To Open The Sky
The Front Pages of Christopher P. Winter
Open Skies on Earth
From time to time, I like to get outdoors and tramp around in the mountains. I appreciate the silences, the open spaces, the vast vistas at the tops of peaks. The exercise is good, too. I won't have much more to say about this topic, because a fondness for such experiences is built into most of us. And for those who don't share the fondness for wilderness, words will probably not change anything.
Of course, there's always the chance that a person hasn't yet experienced wilderness at all. There's nothing like the real thing to strike that spark. But the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words applies here — in spades. So I may put up a few pictures here. More likely, I'll post links to the sites with the pictures.
In the meantime, I'll just say this:
Folks, you've got a pretty impressive planet here.
Go take a look!
Going out and looking at the scenery is always the best option, in my view. But if you can't go, bringing the scenery to you is — not the next-best thing, but still worthwhile. And the World-Wide Web can be a handy way of getting glimpses of some of that scenery.
There are two ways to go when obtaining views of the out-of-doors via the Web: Still pictures and live Webcams. Still pictures are available in great variety, and they tend to be of excellent quality. True, you have to hunt them down using Google or some other search engine. But that's seldom forbiddingly difficult. (And speaking of Google, have you tried Google Earth? It's really remarkable.)
Webcams, on the other hand, usually provide small images surrounded by (or overlaid with) distracting adverts, are subject at some time to the hours of darkness, and may require you to install ActiveX controls or other software of unknown provenance. In addition, the links to the webcams are often broken. There are those who oppose webcams as intrusive public surveillance. An example is this protest against the Manhattan Transfer Electronics camera on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. This may be a minority view; but the fact is that webcams, like the Internet itself, can be unwelcome in certain situations. Note the complete absence of public-access cameras in mainland China. By contrast, Hong Kong has a few (well above ground level) and Japan is virtually plastered with them.
I'd like to set up a world map as an imagemap so users could home in on the part of the globe that's in sunlight at any given time, and click down through some layers to a specific location. However, that's a lot of work, and there may not be enough good Webcams to make it worth doing. So for the moment I'll present a small number of select links in simple tables.
Here's a master table that links to some other tables of links to scenic Webcams on Earth's various continents. I've checked all these out and found them to be free of annoying pop-up ads. (However, some contain sidebar ads, and one — Pattay Harbor's Flipper Lodge Hotel — has ads that overlay the image.) Note too that the time-zone values still need correcting.