Exploring sunlight, movement,
Daytime beckons, demands play,
Life outside, life well lived.
Wil Wheaton stated a fantastic idea in the last Radio Free Burrito: do something creative everyday for 31 days. Feeling withered creatively, this seems an excellent course of action. Earlier (this morning), I broke out my Moleskine, grabbed one of my old poetry texts and determined to write from the first form that appeared before me. First on the page was the tanka, cousin to the haiku.
Growing within our hands, bright
Blast of knowledge, linked
Massive data together
Knowledge not equal wisdom.
Shifting to haiku:
I’m current re-reading “Simpler Living Compassionate Life”. Having lurked on my shelf for way too many years, some of my current questions called me back to this. Looking over some of the essays, it’s clear how much an influence this has had on my life. I wrote an essay, years ago, on “Enough”, and I see the early stirring of those notions here. The most recent essay I read, “Entering the Emptiness” (Gerald May), though, deeply challenged me.
Most of the piece connects solidly with my years of zen practice. The notion of space, external and internal, as sacred, something to value speak clearly to me. Embracing the noise of the mind and letting the random echos simply be. These are all things I’ve heard as guidance. One piece, though, haunts me. Abandoning the quest for fulfillment.
May labels, as myth, that “[i]if you are well adjusted, and if you are living your life properly, you will feel fulfilled, satisfied, content and serene”. This myth, I now see, lies deep within me. Also, I still find the lingering “if we are not completely happy...it is because we are somehow not right with God”. I see I must embrace that I’m not a machine. Any sense of dissatisfaction, of frustration, of confusion is not “unhealthy”. I think I see what makes this a myth.
Often, I’ve felt that I’m only on the “right” path when everything is aligned, things run smooth. When there are obstacles, tension, frustration then I’m out of alignment with God/the Universe/Force. May’s piece reminds me that, no, this is myth, too. That difficultly is not, well, this. That the madness and confusion is normal. And I can co-exist within this tension.
Our Records, Our Digital History
Saw this wine bottle while shopping. Very clever piece of art. My attention was grabbed, but I didn't buy it. Though I might research it and see if this something I would like. I guess the marketing is somewhat effective. Perhaps I'm a rarity. Someone who thinks through his purchases. I hope My mindset is not rare. Well, not within my circle of friends. The best one can do, I suppose?
Today, acknowledging summer’s demise, I finally turned on the heat. Air chill, perhaps related to the gray, darkening sky. Or, perhaps, the turning of the seasons announced boldly; the date on the calendar be damned! I wonder, how cold was it, nine years ago, when the world went a bit chill?
Well, perhaps not cold, but rather hot. So often, since Nine-Eleven, Americans delved head-first into fear based reaction. Easily wrenched into “evil=muslim” paradigm. Fear. Our world shown uncontrolled, our dominance shown illusory, and the grand mirage of a world looking longingly at us (US?) for love and guidance blown apart. Fear shoved into our face, our people unused to this sensation. Irrational rage birthed.
I hoped that we, as a people, would remain above petty vindictiveness and bigoted rage. That we would be stronger, less alarmist. Our reaction to such tragedy based on effectiveness and reason. My hope remains longing for fulfillment. At moments glimmers of hope exist. Yet, I see this rage everywhere.
For me, Nine-Eleven speaks to the ease at which rage takes hold. Those flying the planes delighted in the suffering they caused. People chose immense harm, overriding all scripture’s demand for compassion. Ultimately, failure of humanity to rise to it’s potential. A potential spoken of by myriad prophets. Compassion, love; God’s commands overridden by a mad desire to slay for God. Madness!
In this morning’s chill I drove to breakfast with friends. On my drive I passed our local fire station, noticing the flag at half-staff. A sober reminder of the dreadful history of this day. Yet, up in the sky, against a horizon of blue sky and fluffy clouds sat a hot-air-balloon. They drift skyward upon a wave a hope. Autumn, a time of winding down, approaching the death of winters, glimmers with the residual hope of summer, acknowledging its eventual return. Life returns, hope remains; for that. A day will come when warmth returns, life blooms, and the heat turns off for a few months.
I came across this blog from an internal Microsoft news source. Before his death Joshua Isaac was an internal communications specialist here at Microsoft. His blog captures the journey he took as a cancer patient, through hospice care, to his untimely death. The first thought I have is one of sadness. Dying at 37, with young children, is a tragedy on multiple levels. With my own mother’s death, at cancer’s hands, his story resonates strongly with me. This resonance speaks loudly, reminding me to be present; present with my family, with my friends, with all that I love. One never knows when it returns to dust.
I admire his courage, facing death with openness and honesty. In his blog he shared a great deal, opening my mind to so much. Amazing character! Not too many people would respond to cancer by crafting an independent film. My Left Hand documents this part of his of his life; cancer and it’s ravages. Though we both worked at Microsoft, the vastness of this company (even here in Redmond) prevented our lives from intersecting. I’m lesser for that. However, with the blog and the film, I still stand to learn from Mr. Isaac. A miracle of sorts.
Though we both worked at Microsoft, the vastness of this company (even here in Redmond) prevented our lives from intersecting. I’m lesser for that. However, with the blog and the film, I still stand to learn from Mr. Isaac. A miracle of sorts.
Why now? Such an odd moment for such a memory to burst from the murk
of personal history. Randomness from the human brain, especially THIS
collection of personal synapses, is hardly unusual. I've learned that
these memories have triggers. Answers will come with time, with
My "now" has been filled with self-analysis, diving deeper into who I
am and what I do. Career had been at the forefront. The rest of me has
been, somewhat, neglected in this. Perhaps a piece of this is a hint
to expand past one narrow piece of my life, regardless of how much of
my time is taken up by career. Perhaps...
Yet, there's more. A few weeks back, the house across from my parents
burned. 30 years ago, this month, my best friend's family lived there.
Well, 30 years ago was when that came to an abrupt end. Coming home
from school, a coroner's car in the driveway, the picture on the front
page of the local paper: "Murder/Suicide" screamed. Memories of a
husband and wife who maybe bickered at times, broken against horror. A
friend's psyche fragmented.
All these years later, I still struggle with this. This clearly holds
a defining place in my personality. Yet my memories are weak, vague.
Perhaps, pulling this other horror from my past, more innocuous,
safer, I'm trying to frame this other moment. Perhaps....
From The New York Times:
Seven Children Killed in School Attack in China
The children and a teacher were stabbed to death at a kindergarten in
China in the latest in a bizarre series of attacks on children.
Reading headlines like this chills me, compelling me to stop and read: “Girl, 7, airlifted to hospital after accidental hanging”. I connect solidly: my child is 7. With all the random injuries I sustained as a child, seems rather amazing at times that I avoided becoming such a statistic. While my thoughts and prayers are with this family as they navigate this horror, my attention wanders.
As often happens with stories such as this, there is a burst of information, of “story”, which then vanishes from the public eye forever. It is likely there will be no resolution. In this age of data, and the near limitless ability to present information, would there be value in news orgs following up, finding the end of this story? With our ability to tag and link coalescing this thread into one story would be easy. That, to me, is a key power in this new medium.
Of course, I tend to play both sides and, thus, wonder if there is value of just having the burst and then letting this alone; allowing people to exist in the mystery? Would the follow up I propose invade? Do I, as an observer, really have any rights towards resolution? Certainly the family’s needs are paramount. Is there, in the end, a clear answer? I, being me, find my answer “no”. Yet I will respect your different finding. Humanity is quite complex, is it not?
Trees have been in bloom for quite some time. This, too, is a delight.
Most all trees are at least in bud, the majority laden with blossoms.
A few stragglers remain. I noticed bees a few weeks back. True honey
bees. And I'm will not mistake a hornet for a bee.
Our weather has embraced a Spring mania. Rain, followed by sleet,
fading to hail, with some snow for good measure. Intermixed with
random bursts of sunshine. Life in the Northwest under the shadow of
the covergence zone.
Yesterday I received a message from Schmap, an online travel guide service asking to use one of my Flickr shots for their Seattle guide. Reading through the terms, I noticed this wasn’t compensated, but as I am not a professional, my first thought was “who cares?” Turns out there are many (see here, and here to start). They aren’t going to get filthy rich off of my one shot. However, after a bit of research, in their business model, they only use free photos. And with that comes the real question: am I contributing to the demise of the professional photographer by taking part? This sort of effort does bring up many issues with the technological age we find ourselves in. Does this put photographers out of work? Or does it just kill off the mediocre? Which is “bad”?
I’m not sure the ethics here, and have not made a choice one way or another. I’d love to hear what others thing off all this. Have any of your used Schmap before? Anything similar out there?
Just had to delete a bunch of comment spam from my Blogger blog. It seems they’ve found a way to override the word verification. Perhaps someone is manually posting. Anyway, I don’t read Japanese and the links looked, uh, suspicious. Wretched, infernal spammers!
Just an FYI to everyone out there, I’ve noticed that Outlook 2010 captures pictures from social media sites, most commonly Facebook. This includes people who are not in my address book. If you send me an email, it looks like Outlook will compare the email to the social media sites and locate any pictures associated with it. So, if you send me (or someone around here with 2010) a resume (for instance) and have your profile picture set to a drunken, naked, or otherwise inappropriate pose, we’ll all see it, in all its glory.
"Email is such a funny thing. People hand you these single little messages that are no heavier than a river pebble. But it doesn't take long until you have acquired a pile of pebbles that's taller than you and heavier than you could ever hope to move, even if you wanted to do it over a few dozen trips. But for the person who took the time to hand you their pebble, it seems outrageous that you can't handle that one tiny thing. 'What pile? It's just a pebble!'" ~Merlin Mann
Merlin captures one of my key aggravations in life: those folks who cannot comprehend that there is more going on in someone’s life than their request. At this point, if someone can’t comprehend that I have hundreds of emails in my inbox, and that sometimes it takes time to weed through them, then I just smile and go on with my life. There’s nothing more I can do. That person lives on a completely different planet than me, for all practical purposes.
A little while back, I posted a piece about FriendFeed, and one of my friends asked me about how it compared to Posterous. I stumbled upon this poll at Mashable that compares Posterous with Tumblr (note: the poll is from September). I had messed with Tumblr, but didn’t go anywhere with it. I might need to give it another look.
One night in the mid-1990s when I was working as a journalist in Beijing, I went out to dinner with some Chinese friends. I had just finished reading a book called "The File" by the British historian Timothy Garton Ash. It's about what happened in East Berlin after the Berlin Wall came down and everybody could see the files the Stasi had been keeping all those years. People discovered who had been ratting on whom—in some cases neighbors and co-workers, but also lovers, spouses and even children. After I described the book to my Chinese dinner companions—a hip and artsy intellectual crowd—one friend declared: "Some day the same thing will happen in China, then I'll know who my real friends are."
The table went silent.
China today is very different from Soviet-era Eastern Europe. It's unlikely that its current political system—or its system for blocking foreign Web sites known widely as the "great firewall"—will crumble like the Berlin Wall any time soon. Both are supported and enabled by the current geopolitical, commercial and investment climate in ways that Soviet-era Eastern Europe and the Iron Curtain never were.
I do believe, however, that in my lifetime the Chinese people may learn more about some of the conversations that have taken place over the past decade between Internet company executives and Chinese authorities. When that happens, they will know who sold them out and who was most eager to help the Chinese Communist Party in building a blinkered cocoon of disinformation around their lives—and in some cases deaths.
This censored environment makes it easier for the Chinese government to lie to its people, steal from them, turn a blind eye when they are poisoned with tainted foodstuffs, and cover up their children's deaths due to substandard building codes. It is a constant struggle, and sometimes literally a crime, for people to share information about such matters or to use the Internet to mobilize against corruption and malfeasance.
That is the information environment that China's business elites, many of whom have gotten rich running Internet and telecommunications companies, are responsible for helping to build and maintain. For now they are national heroes, having made great (and lucrative) efforts on behalf of China's economic growth and global competitiveness, making China a force to be reckoned with on the global stage. But if history takes some unexpected turns—and that's the one thing you can count on Chinese history doing—it won't always be on their side.
By announcing it will no longer censor its Chinese search engine and will reconsider its presence in China, Google has taken a bold step onto the right side of history.
Four years ago when Google entered the Chinese market and launched Google.cn, Chinese bloggers called it the "neutered Google." At the time, Google executives said the decision to bow to the Chinese government's censorship demands had been made after heated internal debates. They said they had weighed the positives and negatives and concluded Chinese Internet users were better off with the neutered Google than with no Google. They drew a red line under search and said they would not bring any other Google products containing users' personal information—including email and blogging—into China. They held to that line.
Over the past four years I tested Google.cn from time to time and compared its search results with the Chinese market leader, Baidu. I found that Google.cn tended to censor search results somewhat less than Baidu. This supported Google's argument that it at least gave Chinese Internet users more information than the domestic alternatives.
Google executives also pointed out that a notice appeared at the bottom of every page of censored results on Google.cn, informing users that some information was being hidden from them at the behest of Chinese authorities. In this way, the logic went, they were at least being honest with the Chinese public about the fact that Google was helping their government put blinkers on them.
The company's effort to walk a fine line between Chinese regulators and free speech critics ended up being unsustainable. Anticensorship activists still viewed its compromise as contributing to the spread of censorship around the world. On the other hand, the compromise was also unacceptable to Chinese authorities, who were unhappy that Google wasn't censoring as heavily as Baidu. Last year Google came under a series of attacks in the state-run media for failing to censor porn adequately when users—horror of horrors—typed smutty phrases into the search box.
As Google considers exactly what it will do next now that it has refused to censor, some Chinese users are expressing support and sending flowers, others are upset, and others are thumbing their noses, good riddance. Competitors are gloating. Google is in for a rough few months ahead. In the longer run, history will reveal to the Chinese people who their real friends have been.
Ms. MacKinnon is a fellow with the Open Society Institute. She is writing a book about China and the Internet.
Interesting piece from the WSJ. I wonder, though, just how effective a Google withdrawl from China would be without anyone else following along.