Archive for August, 2012
I’m going to write an entry of the variety that I’ven’t written in quite some time: the complain about friends and acquaintances in my life and how I’ve reacted to them. I’ven’t written one of these in quite some time, because in general they cause more grief, make relations with friends difficult (since they never know what’ll end up in a blog entry), and just generally are a reenactment of teenage angst, which I’m more or less beyond since well, I’ve been on the planet for 31 years.
I have a friend through church who recently ended our friendship. The conversation that immediately proceeded her decision to end our friendship played out over Facebook. It was one of the most brutal, violent, and cruel interactions that I’ve had online or offline. I’m still smarting and a bit dumbfounded by the magnitude of the anger I encountered.
In the message that ended our friendship, she cited “unsolicited advice” as being the core reason why she ended the friendship. This in and of itself needs a bit more elaboration; unsolicited advice is something that her parents used to “control” her. I don’t know the full history between her and her parents. Ultimately, we all carry baggage from our past that affects with how we interact with those in the present. However, we are not simply amalgamations of pavlovian responses culled from our previous interactions. We humans have the ability to recognize how we have been affected by our previous interactions and adjust our behaviors accordingly.
I remember a morning I was working at McDonald’s and a woman came in and verbally abused me and my fellow crew members. The store manager came up from the grill area, punched a refund into the register, handed the woman her money, and told her to leave. Upon my inquiry, the store manager, said that the woman was probably mentally ill.
Ten minutes or so later the same woman came into the store, ordered a sandwich, apologized, and was a model customer.
I’ve kicked around what I should do if my former friend approaches me to re-establish our friendship. I believe that redemption and change are possible, however I am not sure I am ready to offer my ex-friend my other cheek. I truly believe in the second Unitarian Universalist Principle, “Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;” I believe that this is owed to all people, including and especially those who we disagree with those people we consider our enemies. I was not treated by my former friend in a way that remotely resembled our second principle.
I try to practice grace, humility, kindness, and forgiveness in my life. However, in this instance I cannot bring myself to practice forgiveness. That is what she has taken from me.
On Tuesday, I saw the musical Rent on stage for the seventh time. If you include the mediocre movie, its the ninth time I’ve seen Rent.
This time however was a wonderful new experience for me. This production of Rent had a completely new director, a new set design, a new costume design, a new lighting design, and a new sound design. E.g. They remounted the show starting from the book, libretto, and score.
It was really refreshing to see the different choices that were made:
- Costumes: I thought they felt more historically accurate. The original staging of Rent feels more early-90s instead of mid-80s where the show historically fits best for many reasons. (Many reasons, that I don’t recall at the moment, but I remember reading in Sarah Schulman’s book Stagestruck: Theater, AIDS, and the Marketing of Gay America that there are elements from the mid-80s in the story.) I also appreciated the bright costume my friend Jimmie D. Herrod Jr. was in, it made him much easier to pick out on stage.
- Angel: Jerick Hoffer’s Angel is angrier and less soft than Wilson Jermaine Heredia’s original Angel. This really shocked me at first, but feels so much more honest and less stereotypical than just Heredia’s, Gleefully happy, gay, transvestite.
- Lights: Tom Sturge’s lighting plays a wonderful homage to the original design by displaying Benny’s Hummer as just lights, echoing Maureen’s motorcycle entrance. I felt the lighting didn’t call as much attention to itself as I remember the original lighting doing.
- Stage Design: Martin Christoffel’s stage is gritty, there is graffiti all over the place. The set is primarily composed of scaffolding. It exudes reality, whereas Paul Clay’s original design is more impressionistic and has many more elements that are built for the theatre only.
- Stage Direction: Pulling Angel in as a ghost after she died worked exceptionally well, it was brilliantly painful to watch him interact with Collins during I’ll Cover You. Changing Mimi’s Take Me Out to a preparation at her house, instead of a high energy dance number makes an exceptional amount of logical sense. The fact that she proceeds to ask Roger to go out right after it actually made logical sense!
The decision to kill several darlings of the original staging (or more accurately not copy them) while jarring to me at first works. Maureen’s entrance isn’t on a motorcycle of light and sound, but just is. The visual and audible siren during Roger and Mimi’s kiss during the cafe scene wasn’t there, and it wasn’t needed.
Stripping out the pieces that were signatures of Rent brought me back to the more human elements of the story. It made the show more powerful and real. Director Bill Berry’s Rent hit me much harder emotionally than Rent has hit me in a long time. I teared up not once, but at least three times. It reminded me of my humanity in a powerful and wonderful way. The cast and crew should be commended.
of only moderate quality; not very good: a mediocre actor.
ORIGIN late 16th cent.: from French médiocre, from Latin mediocris ‘of middle height or degree,’ literally ‘somewhat rugged or mountainous,’ from medius ‘middle’ + ocris ‘rugged mountain.’
I just got out of an organization of exceptional mediocrity. Not only was this mediocrity pervasive in the organization, everyone in the organization knew it was mediocre. Furthermore, most of the people there seemed content to continue to perpetuate that level of mediocrity.
Everyone at my level there implicitly knew that things were mediocre, and almost embarrassing, but very few actually did anything with it. The folks who in theory should be leading the place barely seem to show up, and when they do they’re in love with and attracted to the vision but don’t know about the practicalities and see the actual horribleness on the ground.
I found this sad to say the least.
This variety of mediocrity is significantly more disgusting than the garden variety of mediocrity where those producing mediocre work are working much closer to their potential, but don’t realize, or don’t have the ability to produce excellent work.
I’m just glad to have left that place.
About two months my friend Casey wrote a blog entry on Why he fell out of love with Apple. I found his blog entry to munge the details and to extrapolate out to a worst possible future, instead of just hemming to what Apple has stated.
I wrote the bulk of this blog entry back then, but I decided to work on a rewrite of it before posting it, then promptly procrastinated on rewriting it. I’ve come back and decided that the bones of what I wrote work, so that is here, but I’ve reworked some bits.
To be 110% clear, I think Casey is a great guy, and I respect his opinion in many areas, but I strongly disagree with him here. It also is a bit odd contracting his Apple blog entry with his Facebook Timeline entry.
Apple has long been moving toward user friendliness. Some of this has been taking what they’ve learned on iOS and porting it over to OS X. For me one of the best features of this has been porting over gestures. Don’t like gestures? You can turn them off.
Gatekeeper provides authentication of the source of applications that helps those who don’t know how to validate the source of the applications they’ve downloaded to ensure that its a safe location. For the rest of us it provides a protection against randomly running things that were drive by downloads. Don’t like Gatekeeper? You can turn it off.
iCloud is a simple and free way to keep your contacts and calendar synced at all times. I don’t have to think about “Oh did I sync my Palm Pilot after I updated that meeting location”? Its done. It also provides options to store files that you can access on all of your devices. Don’t like iCloud? You can turn it or pieces of it off.
Want to use someone else’s sync service? Apple natively supports those, including those of its competitors. It also supports standards such as CalDav, IMAP and more so you can use other options as well.
Dashboard it is yet another way to launch applications. I don’t use it. Sadly you can’t turn it off, but it is pretty silent and you don’t see if if you don’t want to.
Automator while not a new feature is there to support the not-quite power user, but someone who wants to automate and customize common actions. I don’t remember having that on Windows (although, I’ve been away from that OS for a while) and the various *nixes have their own set of tools as well, although they’re less user friendly. Apple has also continued to support Applescript, which allows automating GUI applications, and there is a whole *nix underpinning to OS X that brings that whole suite of tools onboard as well. Don’t want to automate tasks, or want to automate all of them? You’ve got a choice in which tools are available.
Get the theme here? Apple has added lots of features that are aimed at both new and average users, but there is no requirement that you use them, and those features stay in the background.
This entry initially started with a point by point discussion of Casey’s blog entry. I’ve decided to keep that, and so here it is!
- iMessage. Casey and I tested this together, it is not iMessage that causes “…a mass of confusion if you’re not using it (like the oddball text messages I receive from friends who all have iMessage)” It’s those who are on iOS 5. It supports Text MMS messages to multiple people more fully than iOS 4 did. If anything, Apple better supports the MMS standard in iOS 5, and that is what is causing Casey’s grief. iOS only sends a multiple person iMessage if all the receivers of the message support iMessage.
As for iMessage being a proprietary solution. Yup, at the moment it is, but it is built upon XMPP. But there aren’t any other phone level services that provide SMS-like messaging. I’d also like to see Apple interoperate with other providers, but what provider would it interoperate with? The only one that offers anything near to iMessage is Blackberry Messenger. Microsoft doesn’t offer it for Windows Phone, Google doesn’t offer that for Android. (Google Voice kinda provides this service, but bifurcates your messaging into two different telephone numbers.) Apple has not removed SMS or MMS support, iMessage is simply a superset of SMS and MMS.
As I said in my blog entry that Apple should bring iMessage to Android its exceptionally transparent in usage. The iPhone will “seamlessly will select iMessage if it is available, but fall over to SMS/MMS if its not available or your recipient doesn’t have it.”
Given that it costs more per bit to send a message via SMS than it costs to send receive it from the Hubble space telescope, I’m happy someone is disrupting the carriers’ monopoly. If anything iMessage provides extra options as I’ve been able to message people from an airplane over Wifi and from the mountains of Colorado where I don’t have reliable cell service, but do have reliable internet service.
- iCloud. “I’m sure the tight integration of iCloud with iOS and OS X is great if you want to use Apple’s cloud, but they sure don’t make it easy to use someone else’s.”
Really? My iPhone lists iCloud, Microsoft Exchange, GMail, Yahoo, Aol, Hotmail, MobileMe and “Other” (e.g. POP and IMAP) and its about as easy as it can be given the circumstances. OS X will also supports that same list. So for me I see iCloud as providing another cloud option, but it isn’t the only option. If Apple removed Exchange, GMail, or the others it’d be a point, but why is adding one option an issue?
I use iCloud, mostly for contact and calendar syncing which iOS and OS X does support via other sync services.
- App Stores. Casey wrote:
OS X App Store is nothing but a blatant money grab and offers nothing to developers except less money in their pockets. And all app stores offer are the illusion of security but give only censorship — and there’s no other way to install iOS apps except through Apple’s gates. I expect it’s only a matter of time before they make it more and more challenging to install apps on OS X outside of the App Store.
I’ll admit some of the OS X App store does feel like a money grab, but Apple hasn’t forced developers into this. If anything this helps non-tech savvy folks install and upgrade applications. (I know its insanely easy for a technically acquainted person to install and upgrade OS X apps, but for some people its a big hurdle.) Developers do sell the same software inside and outside of the OS X App store. Apple has stated their upgrade path for application level security in OS X in Gatekeeper. The default setting for Gatekeeper will “allow initial launching of apps either downloaded from the Mac App Store or which are digitally signed under Apple’s identified developer program“. The key will require a $99 per year membership to Apple’s Mac Developer Program. This is a cost for developers, but it isn’t unreasonable in my opinion.
As for iOS only allowing apps to be installed via the App store, this is a reasonable tradeoff for the ability to ensure that my phone works right. Fact of the matter is iOS has never supported consumer apps to be installed through any method other than the through the app store. This has always been the case. Given that the only commensurable app store, Google’s Play, has had malware issues, I think Apple has gotten this right. Besides, firmware level jailbreaks are still possible on iOS.
On the iOSification of OS X, Casey wrote:
efforts to move OS X closer to iOS (something Microsoft is copying) … They have different purposes and usage patterns and their interfaces should reflect that. I don’t want my address book to look like a book (hello Microsoft Bob) or my email client to resemble the iPad’s client.
I agree with Casey on the address book in OS X Lion. That annoys me and I’ve stared using Cobook instead. The calendar in OS X Lion looks a bit more like a calendar, which I think is cheesy, but doesn’t diminish the usability of the calendar for me. They’ve also backed off on some of this in Mountain Lion making Contacts (f/k/a Address Book) more usable, as well as cleaning up Calendar (f/k/a/ iCal) a bit.
The default view of OS X Mail in Lion and Mountain Lion does look like the iPad, but it took me about three minutes to get it Lion’s Mail like and working similarly to OS X Mail in Snow Leopard, and it only took me about 30 seconds in Mountain Lion.
The last few iOSification bits of OS X is hiding scrollbars by default and the scrolling direction with gestures, both of which can be changed in settings. Finally is the inclusion of Launchpad, which well, I never see, because I don’t use.
If anything Apple has cleanly added features to OS X from iOS, whereas Microsoft’s Windows 8 basically shoehorns a complete second UI language into a different side of Windows. (Admittedly, this is what Apple did with Classic in OS X, but this was part of a stated transition plan, nothing more.)
I find the conclusion of John Siracusa’s ARS Technica review of Mountain Lion to be clearest in elaborate where OS X is going:
Mountain Lion is not the Mac OS of the past, but it also sets a course to a destination that is quite distinct from iOS. Despite the oft-cited prediction that the Mac will eventually be subsumed by iOS, that’s not what’s happening here. Apple is determined to bring the benefits of iOS to the Mac, but it’s equally determined to do so in a way that preserves the strengths of the Mac platform.
OS X is stronger because of the lessons learned from iOS, and that is to be embraced by both Power Users and N00bs.
If this blog entry were a movie, it’d easily be rated R, if not NC-17. Please proceed at your own discretion.
There have been a large number of tweets in my twitter feed about one of Missouri’s Representatives to the U.S. House of Representatives, Todd Akin’s comments that “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” I find it morally repugnant that an elected official would say this, let alone one would say this and have the support of people from his party.
“Legitimate Rape” is a codeword to separate date rape from other forms of rape. Implicitly, people believe date rape to be less severe than forcible rape. From my own experience, I can make an argument that the opposite is true. Forcible rape by a stranger doesn’t violate the emotional and physical trust that you’ve placed in someone. Date rape does. This is not to belittle other forms of rape. Forcible rape is violent in different ways than date rape.
Date rape takes something from you, it puts a road bump in any subsequent intimate encounters, “Will he rape me?” That is not the thought that you want going through your head during a romantic encounter.
It may seem odd for a man to be discussing rape from the perspective of the victim. We have a prominent narrative in our society that rape is always a man raping a woman. While this is the most likely scenario, women can rape men, men can rape men, and women can rape women.
I was raped on a date when I was seventeen. Not only was I a victim of date rape, it was the first time I had ever been sexually intimate with someone.
The proper words and sounds have not been created by man to express the anger and rage that I feel. He took the experience of my first time from me and perverted it into a horrible memory. Now, whenever I think of the first time I kissed a guy, or the first time I cuddled naked with another guy, I have the memory of telling him to stop and him telling me “You’ll get used to the feeling.” That is something I can never change.
I was raped on a date when I was seventeen during the first time I was ever sexually intimate with anyone. So when some out of touch asshole politician says that a woman can’t get pregnant from legitimate rape, I want to eviscerate his words and his elected position from any published history, because he does not deserve the respect to be known to people in the future. He does not deserve to leave a legacy when he belittles the history of those of us who have been raped.
Representative Akin may you disappear from our history.
I wrote up most of my thoughts on the whole Chick-Fil-A debacle a while ago, but there is one thought that I didn’t get into that.
I believe one of the most important pieces of America’s legal tradition is the First Amendment. While most of the responses to Dan Cathy’s comments aren’t governed by the letter of the First Amendment (since they’re not actions by the government, but instead by individuals) they do fall afoul of the spirit of the First Amendment.
Pro-Gay Marriage advocates attempted to first shame then boycott Cathy into changing his position. Essentially they were engaged in was a form of economic McCarthism. I want Cathy to change his position, but I want it to come from a true place, not threat of his economic destruction.
One of the reasons for free speech protections is that no one who is honest with themselves can change their opinions on a dime. Try this thought experiment: If you’re a proponent of Gay Marriage change your opinion on Gay marriage to being against Gay Marriage. NOW. See that doesn’t work?
A few asides:
- I don’t agree with how Cathy has chosen to spend his money, but speech is somehow related to money. I don’t fully agree with the Citizens United decision, but the practicalities of fully extracting money from speech will be tricky in politics and impossible outside of politics.
- I came across a tweet:
Tweet from Luke Adams(@luketadams)
Watching the “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day” in 2012 makes me wonder if there was a “Woolworth Lunch Counter Appreciation Day” in 1960.
August 1, 2012 4:43:13 PM
retweeted by @wilw
I find this to be an invalid comparison. Chik-Fil-A has continued to respectfully serve their customers, and also decided to stay out of politics. (A bit late, but they learned their lesson.) Woolworth actively denied service to African Americans. There is vast difference between these and they aren’t comparable.