Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Art of Josh Keyes

Josh Keyes is an artist I just became aware of who combines elements of mechanical illustration and wildlife to produce some very dramatic images. Check out more of his work on his web site.

I love the incongruity of the images. They tickle the my brain like an obscure joke Q: How many surrealists does it take to screw in a light bulb? A: Giraffe. They also can be simultaneously cautionary and optimistic. The surfaces often depicit a decline of man and the rise of nature yet the depictions clearly cage the problems as a puzzle pieces that can be examined and understood and with understanding there's always hope.

I think they're brilliant. Take a look.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Presidential last names

The Globe has an interesting read about the ancestry of presidents. Never knew this before:

"Even the two presidents whose presidential names were not their original surnames fall into the same ancestral corridor. President Clinton, originally William Jefferson Blythe, and Gerald Ford, originally Leslie Lynch King, took the names of stepfathers, but the old names, like the new, came from the British Isles."
President King. Now that would have been weird.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ending Prohibition

Culture 11 has a couple of excellent articles condemning drug prohibition: War on Drugs: The Price Tag by Anita Bartholomew and War On Drugs: The Collateral Damage by Radley Balko.

There's also a pro prohibition article called Keeps Drugs Illegal! but I found the arguments contained within very weak. The best part was a quip in the comments regarding the contention that legalization wont diminish the violence associated with the black market but I'll save you the trouble of looking it up.

"This is why I often see executives from Jack Daniels executing drive-by shootings at Jim Beam corporate headquarters. Wait... I don't see that at all."

Don't take me wrong, I do agree with most people that many drugs are dangerous and all should be kept away from children. I also agree that drug abuse is a problem. Where I disagree is in how we approach the problem.

The current 'drug war' approach is attempting to eliminate the problem by forcefully curtailing availability and creating a disincentive via the threat of incarceration. This works to a degree but it has a major flaw. It assumes the war is winnable and it's not.

People will always be looking for an easy path to happiness and it's profitable to facilitate that connection. That will never change. The fact that we live in a relatively free society makes that connection even easier. It will be a never ending war where the only winner will be the drug dealers who don't get caught and the police forces, prison operators and lawyer who get job security for life. It's a twisted codependency of rivals.

I think it's time we break that cycle and try a new approach.

The War word

This post isn't political or at least I don't mean it to be. Given the subject matter, I'm sure it will raise some hackles and I apologize for that. I really only meant this to be about the word 'War'.

First some background. I'm a liberal product of the 60s and as such I grew up mocking the political euphemism 'Police Action' that was used to describe our involvement in Vietnam. If my recollection is correct, (forgive me, I was but a youngster), the arguments used to justify the phrase followed this simple reasoning: no war has been declared so it was not a war. As a young person that never sat well with me. We were bombing North Vietnam; we were in pitched battles with the North Vietnamese army; so not calling it a war was just silly word play by the people who wanted to continue the fight.

Time has proven that point. No one talks about the Vietnam Police Action anymore it's always referred to as the Vietnam War.

So hear I am 35 or so years later and I find myself in a semantic pickle. Everyone keeps talking about the Iraq war as if it's still going on. We certainly were in a war with Iraq but in my working definition of the word that war ended when Sadam's government collapsed and new government was established. We are still in Iraq and soldiers and civilians are still dying but is it really a war anymore? The circular irony is that I think the phrase 'police action' would be pretty darn appropriate.

Monday, January 12, 2009

George R. R. Martin Get Off Your Ass

Sometime during the summer of 2008 I stumbled across the series of books known as 'The Song of Fire and Ice'. I was instantly smitten. There are four published books in the series and the author has promised at least another few.

The problem is Mr Martin is way overdue on the next announced volume called 'A Dance with Dragons' which, you can see from this posts accompanying image, already has cover art. The book's status was last updated on the author's web page over a year ago and various speculative publishing dates have come and gone with no word from the author. It's becoming very frustrating for the fans.

During the intervening time I've managed to entertain myself with some good reads. I'm especially fond of the series 'The Malazan Book of the Fallen' by Steven Erikson. Alas, this series is also incomplete but it is both further along in the story and the author has a better record of timely publishing.

The Malazan books are a fascinating but difficult series in many ways. At first I was turned off by a near pornographic level of violence but as I kept reading I became intrigued by the depth of the mysteries that Erikson unveils. He has created an amazing set of unique characters and places whose connections reveal an epic and ancient subtext. In addition, unlike so many of his peers who leave dangling plot lines, Erikson seems poised to wrap this twisted tale up in a tight knot. I'm really looking forward to completing it. Since I'm only 3 1/2f books into the 8 published of the 10 book series, perhaps I speak too soon, but I think not.

So there you have it George. I'm currently entertained, but this series wont last forever. Get off your tuckus and finish your damn book.

Friday, January 09, 2009

2 TB memory stick

This image cracked me up. Link

Thursday, January 08, 2009

I work for a Branch

I'm starting to dislike the term 'Individual Contributor'. I was much happier being referred to as a developer or an engineer or even a simple staff member. Being called an 'individual contributor' is a bit dehumanizing. A manager is no more a collective than I am even though they may represent one.

Since I'm sure the term stems from some business school theory of hierarchical management I say we reverse things and apply software engineering terms for hierarchies back of the tree. I'm a Leaf and I work for a Branch, who works for another Branch who ultimately reports to Root.

I feel so much more human now.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Men of Honor

Jayne and I spent one whole day this new year holiday engrossed in the HBO John Adams mini series. I'm certainly more Jeffersonian in my thinking and Jayne more Adamsian but we managed to emerge from its viewing with a shared sense of political purpose. It was a day well spent.

So it's with that backdrop that I today stumbled across a very humorous article by the irascible Fred Reed called The Price of Honor that skewers the concept of honor in particularly as it applies to Iraq war exit strategies. He takes great exception to the phrase 'peace with honor'.

While I tend to agree with his main thesis that we should end our occupation of Iraq as soon as possible, I take great exception with his pillorying of the concept of honor in general.

"Honor means nothing more than prickly infantile vanity dressed up, usually, in desperate class-consciousness. Of all the symptoms of a weak ego, honor is the most embarrassing, and the most harmful. In a right-minded society it would be made a capital offense."

The word honor has broad definition but I'll focus on the this one: The quality of being honorable; where honorable is defined as:
  • honest: not disposed to cheat or defraud; not deceptive or fraudulent; "honest lawyers"; "honest reporting"
  • worthy of being honored; entitled to honor and respect; "an honorable man"; "led an honorable life"; "honorable service to his country"
  • ethical: adhering to ethical and moral principles; "it seems ethical and right"; "followed the only honorable course of action"
  • estimable: deserving of esteem and respect; "all respectable companies give guarantees"; "ruined the family's good name"
What it does not mean but what Fred Reed seems to think it means is Pride. Peace with honor is a completely different thing than peace with pride. It's the conflation of these concepts that is the root of the problem.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Developingstorm 2009

Hey World.

You still out there?

I've been doing plenty of sitting on my keister, enjoying the good life, but I haven't totally forgotten about the blog.

I spent some time today snazzing up the blogger template and hope to re-engage with the blog in some form or another. In the post Twitter and Facebook world I'm not always sure how to use this tool but I haven't given up trying.

I hope you're all having a good new year.
The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism