Monday, June 30, 2008

Just because you have the right...

Scalia, Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito. It's a pretty odd day when I find myself in agreement with this crowd of U.S. Supreme Court Justices and disaligned, at least in underlying principle, with this list: Souter, Ginsburg, Stevens and Breyer. I had briefly thought to say "I applaud the Court's recent Second Amendment ruling" but I quickly thought better of it; it's not something to cheer about the way the NRA is cheering. I do think it is correct; I think free adults should have the right to own weapons.

It's a right that carries an awesome responsibility that many people just can't live up to, and that creates real problems and real tragedies. Guns (and other weapons) are meant for situations where justice, law and order have broken down or are unavailable at that moment. They can really level a playing field when a couple of thugs invade a home.

I wish we didn't live in a society where that, and other more insideous threats, still exist, but we do, and now our right to arm ourselves, should we feel the need, is more clear. To be sure it's not crystal clear; the Second Amendment is probably the most obtusely worded of any of them. It's worth looking at some of the contemporaneous provisions from the English Bill of Rights and from some of the early states -- there are more radical notions there, like the fact that standing armies are dangerous to Liberty in times of peace and that it is up to "the people" to provide for the common defense. And it is up to the people to exercise their rights responsibly -- or not to: you also have the right to not own a hand gun, and to push for a society where others don't feel a need to own one either. That's the homeland I want to protect.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bunko Part Deux

I've resurrected my iPod after it languished for several months in my top bureau drawer. It's because the iTunes podcast interface is finally usable; that, and the "digital rights media" calamity seems to be abating somewhat, i.e. you can download and play mp3's from disparate sources like Amazon and Apple and use the same player.

Anyway, I had the good fortune to catch a Dan Pink / Cory Doctorow conversation coming off BookExpoCast wherein Dan plugs his new book "The Adventures of Johnny Bunko (the last career guide you'll ever need)". It's a good talk where Dan describes the difference between making career decisions for "instrumental" reasons versus "fundamental" ones. Instrumental reasons are practical reasons, fundamental reasons are more what you just want to do and then try to make it work out. I've never thought it responsible enough for me to just let go and follow some whim into the weeds. I've tried to strike something of a balance -- I enjoy computers and programming so I make my career with them -- I'm not that crazy about corporate America, but that's where the steady work is, benefits, etc.

Dan "I'm not self-actualizing fast enough so I'm quitting my job" Pink is working on convincing me otherwise (maybe by the time I'm 65; LOL). He says to look at anyone who is making a difference, doing something that matters, and ask them how they got to doing what they are doing. The answer is invariably, "Well, it's a long story." He says instrumental reasons don't work. Life and careers are too complex these days. I don't not believe him.

I still haven't read "Bunko", but the talk was fun enough to inspire me to buy my second copy, this one also sent directly to one of my nephews in another state. Maybe someday I'll get to read a copy.

Monday, June 02, 2008

New Coke with a Bizarre Bit

We visited the new "World of Coca-Cola" in Atlanta this weekend. It's now next to Centenial Olympic Park and the Georgia Aquarium (which we also visited). We'd been to the old Coke World a few times since it opened and it was getting a bit dated, with the history only coming up into the 1990's. The exhibits have been updated but it's pretty similar and the free tasting is always a treat -- there's great international and cross-cultural comaraderie in trying 60+ flavors of soft drink. More fun than any wine tasting I've ever attended.

There is a new video that they show before you enter the exhibits and I found it more than a little bit bizarre. It's called "The Happiness Factory", and it's happy in some kind of a zen serial killer kind of way. It's animated with upbeat music but there are some disturbing images. For example: a number of animated snowmen are pushed into a meat grinder; a cheerleader with long eyelashes but no eyes sits down in a chair to be interviewed and then in a scene reminiscent of Sharon Stone in "Basic Instinct", low camera angle and such, she crosses and uncrosses her legs; also interviewed, but while hovering, is a chubby tandem rotor helicopter that looks a bit piggish with what are ostensibly six sling load tie points on its belly but that appear more like teats with nipple rings. Those are just a few that I remembered -- it's a montage of fringe characters and odd behaviors, all to produce a joyously frigid bottle of coke.

Okay, Montana, You're Up.

You know I'm talking to you there with the cowboy spirit, big open sky over yer head, and to the few open-minded folks from the right coast that have been imported . Let's get 'er done and let Hillary get some rest....

You, too, South Dakota, with your monuments to great presidents past. I know Obama said his ears are too big to be carved in big stone but I still think he can fit the qualifications: "...that certain Presidents transcend partisanship into monumental granite... Father of our country. Author of our Constitution. Creator of our National Park System. (Leader through) our Civil War."

Let's see if we can put this long march into the win column and get Barack Obama home to the nomination.