| Saturday 17th July 2010 7:10MDT | → 1 Comments |
This blog has indeed been in extended and spontaneous hiatus. Nothing is to be gained by explaining why.
However, I felt the need to cover the recent Supreme Court ruling [PDF] regarding the gay men seeking asylum in the UK - or more specifically the complete misinformation and even more complete homophobia demonstrated by the British tabloids, ably assisted by a number of right-wing (and highly religious) politicans. The main reason for this post is the claim that the appellants wouldn’t face persecution for their sexuality in Cameroon if they just kept it quiet.
Now, to those who are critically-thinking impaired this sounds like an obviously sensible option - just hide your sexuality and you can live a long and happy life free of the danger of physical abuse or even death. What this is effectively saying is that you should stop being yourself and live a lie (as we have all had to do before we were ‘out’).
What the pundits don’t realise is that it goes far beyond just not showing any public affection to your boyfriend/partner. You have to construct an entire parallel life to the outside world that gives the impression you’re straight - and this is why a section of the Supreme Court ruling is such subtle genius:
In short, what is protected is the applicant’s right to live freely and openly as a gay man. That involves a wide spectrum of conduct, going well beyond conduct designed to attract sexual partners and maintain relationships with them. To illustrate the point with trivial stereotypical examples from British society: just as male heterosexuals are free to enjoy themselves playing rugby, drinking beer and talking about girls with their mates, so male homosexuals are to be free to enjoy themselves going to Kylie concerts, drinking exotically coloured cocktails and talking about boys with their straight female mates.
In other words, to hide their sexuality (or, to be more honest, their inherent personalities) they would have to employ completely absurd stereotypes about what it is to be straight - in exactly the same way that a straight man pretending to be gay would also be likely to employ the very worst tabloid/media-generated stereotype of queers. The thing about stereotypes is they aren’t real - they’re exaggerations and force people to categorise themselves in a way that is so false that no-one would want to live like that and should never have to. I know a lot of straight men who don’t play rugby or drink beer (to excess, is what I assume the reference means). Are they insufficiently hetrosexual? Is it about time they started acting ‘more straight’?
Needless to say, the self-same tabloids and pundits have completely misunderstood and misrepresented the judgement’s reasoning and Anne Widdecombe even revels in it without seeing the irony in her comments:
[they] seem to have wanted to come here merely so that they can be overt about their lifestyles.
She also seems to have missed a comment by one of the men who has claimed a lot of people in his village already know he’s gay, so I think fleeing to save your life is enough of a compelling reason, though Widdecombe seems to think his real intention is to come here to ‘act gay’ and threaten the social fabric.
Actually, I can’t waste any more time on her as she disgusts me. I think I’ve made my point.
| Tuesday 9th February 2010 18:19MST | → 0 Comments |
I came across this observation on what it is to be a project manager, on the website Herding Cats (which is dedicated to the subject):
Project estimating, and project management is hard work. Software development is fun work. Still hard but fun. Project Management is hard work, with almost no fun.
When I wanted to move into project management, my immediate boss at the time and other project managers I worked with kept trying to persuade me against it. They weren’t entirely serious but wanted to make it clear exactly what I was getting in to - one way it was put to me was that project management was 50% paperwork and 50% being yelled at by the customer. Not only that, but when the project finished it was the team that got the credit and the PM might get some recognition, but more as an afterthought and only if it was brought in on time and under budget.
Despite all that I became a project manager and, shock horror, I even enjoy it (most of the time). Thinking about it today I wondered if it was because I’ve always liked organization and abhorred chaos. I actually like reading books on project management processes, such as the PRINCE2 manuals (though agile is more my schtick).
You have to be a particular type of nerd to like processes. However, at least I haven’t got to the stage where I’m using the word ‘process’ in casual conversation.
| Wednesday 3rd February 2010 16:59MST | → 9 Comments |
Some people have asked me about my electronic document management system (though I often suspect it’s a reaction to me going on about it so much). However, the philosophy behind is worth discussing as I consider it to be an example of the principles: the perfect is the enemy of the good or worse is better.
That comes about from previous attempts to create such a system. Essentially, the idea is to scan in all my paperwork, including legacy stuff going back years, so I can access it quickly, easily and efficiently on my computer - and consequently get rid of all the paper (as I only have a small apartment). The ideal solution would have been:
- being able to access documents online
- searching through them, preferably using tags
- linking related documents
- a shiny custom made application for viewing, with resizing and converting to other formats
However, I found it was turning in to more trouble than it was worth trying to satisfy even one of these requirements. I never seemed to be able to get a lot of the functionality working to my satisfaction or come up with a decent subset of tags that was small enough to be useful but large enough to cover all situations. Consequently, given other priorities, I abandoned and restarted the project several times.
Eventually I tried tackling it with more pragmatism: just start scanning in images a page at a time, in greyscale (so I don’t lose detail) and at a decent resolution (150dpi) and in .PNG format with the scanned timestamp (to the second) as the unique filename - after which I’ll worry about how to file them. I wrote a simple shell script to handle this.
After scanning a thousand or so (oh yes, this is going back a good decade), I temporarily filed those I’d done in directories with a deep structure so there wouldn’t be too many images in any one folder. A typical example was:
When I’d finally completed all the legacy documentation and filed it away, I realised “Isn’t this good enough as a system?” The highly detailed directory structure was good enough for me to quickly locate documents and the scenarios I’d previously conjured up, such as “Find all insurance documents for 2006″, never arose - in other words, that type of search was never needed. Finding documents from a purely functional point of view (i.e. for one company or for one house) was the approach I was likely to use 95% of the time.
Now I simply access the documents with the built in image viewer, all of which have a built-in ‘display next image in the directory’ feature that helps stepping through multi-page documents.
It’s far from perfect - but the perfect never got built and there were no signs it ever would.
| Thursday 10th December 2009 19:44MST | → 2 Comments |
I’ve always loved living in towns and cities (i.e. I’ve never been a fan of living in some remote village in the country comprising twenty people and as many sheep) and one thing I love most is artificial light. Quite often I wander up to the top of Pewley Down, which is effectively just across the road, and look across the whole of Guildford at night.
Another is the skyline of Chicago, specifically the area called The Loop. I came across this night photo in Wikipedia (click for a full-size image).
| Sunday 6th December 2009 10:28MST | → 2 Comments |
I came across this blog post on Japanese addresses (there’s an associated video that explains it ever better), which was, amongst other things, an exercise in discovering how other cultures do things not only differently but seemingly the complete opposite to what you’ve taken for granted in your own culture.
It made me think of when Terry first visited Guildford (where I live) and kept trying to make use of the term ‘block‘ to describe distances - an approach that works very well in grid-layout cities in the USA, such as Madison:
… but doesn’t work at all in Guildford:
Of course, we know the origin of this: the layout in Madison was designed whereas it evolved organically in Guildford, with some roads simply being based on ancient bridleways. Ironically, I personally found Madison harder to navigate for the first few years - possibly because rectilinear road layouts all appeared the same to me so were more difficult to visualise (and memorise) than roads that are unique in the path they followed.
Cultural dissonance on both sides.
| Saturday 28th November 2009 18:25MST | → 0 Comments |
These three images sum up my attitude towards those who don’t know sh*t about science and the scientific method but seemingly know everything about its failings (yes, religious people, I’m looking at you too):
| Tuesday 17th November 2009 10:02MST | → 1 Comments |
Skeptical Voters believe that evidence should be at the centre of all public policy making. This site intends to identify which parliamentary candidates embrace the use of evidence as a means to inform their decisions and which prefer to obfuscate, ignore or suppress the evidence for political convenience.
Not a surprising development, after the recent David Nutt affair. However, it does assume a public that always employs critical analysis and doesn’t just believe everything the tabloids say (or celebrities).
| Tuesday 3rd November 2009 11:15MST | → 16 Comments |
Via the Herding Cats blog, which is dedicated to innovations in project management (wake up!), I came across the US Department of Energy Project Management Policy and Guidance site which includes a surprisingly good document on earned value management. It’s somewhat wordy and the progress reporting templates come across as bureaucratic and excessively detailed (the way Governments seem to like their reporting) but it’s still worth a read.
| Sunday 1st November 2009 14:43MST | → 0 Comments |
Earlier in the year, when I was working in Holborn, London, I’d often walk back to the station across Waterloo Bridge and down along by the Thames along the South Bank. This one summer day I saw the trees had been wrapped in what seemed to be red material with white dots.
It turned out to be an art installation by Yayoi Kusama called ‘Ascension of Polkadots on the Trees’.
However, what caught my eye was the dichotomy of a little sign saying:
Do not draw or write on the trees
… and the fact that the public seemed to have ignored that and scribbled words or messages on every white dot on practically every tree.
It made me wonder about something I once read on the subject of art in public places that ended with the statement ‘What makes good art does not necessarily make good public art‘. The example it used for this was a work by Richard Serra (though it could equally be applied to all his works). I felt, though, that the debate had moved on since then from whether an artwork was considered attractive or appropriate in its surroundings to the relationship between the artwork and the public. Isn’t public art not only for the public’s benefit but a creation that is so deliberately put into the public environment that direct interaction with it not only happens but should be expected? Hence the irony of the ‘Do not draw’ sign that included the line:
This is an art work. Please respect it.
Isn’t interacting with it and bringing it closer to the public sphere the best example of respect? Should all public art be Olympian in its aloofness and inaccessibility, to be admired only from afar? That wouldn’t engender my respect. Think of the four plinths in Trafalgar Square. The first three have military sculptures that no-one pays any attention to and only a tiny fraction of the public could even tell you who they are of. The fourth is a pure example of public involvement.
Another example is in this article Two very different takes on public sculpture and art from the site 37signals that compares public art in Chicago and Seattle. From the article:
Chicago understands public art in a public space. The public will only be interested if they can engage with it. Walk on it, play it in, look into it, touch it, brush up against it. If you go to Millennium Park you’ll actually see and hear kids playing over the place. I don’t think you’d see a single kid at the Seattle Olympic Sculpture Park having a good time. I didn’t see any adults who were particularly interested either.
BTW I’ve been to Millennium Park in Chicago and it is indeed a fantastic place. Terry liked it too.
BTWBTW Contrary to some opinion, that photo of Terry in my last entry was not of him dead - he was just asleep and often had afternoon naps like that. He also hated me taking a picture of him asleep (which is why I did it).
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| Friday 16th October 2009 6:47MDT | → 1 Comments |
It’s just about one year since he died. Technically it was 19th October according to the death certificate (as that’s the date he was pronunced dead by the authorities) but I’m convinced it was actually the 17th, and likely only a few hours since I spoke to him on the phone. Hey ho.
Consequently, I will be incommunicado for the period of the 17th-19th.
ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE.