Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Work in Progress?

Here is an older photo. (Click image to see larger picture) It actually doesn't directly relate to the post title so much. The title more relates to what to do with old digital images that have the potential to be good (with significant amounts of photoshop work) when I don't wish to work on them. For example, there are still probably over 100 Agora II images (nearly half of them include some form of unclothed, undressed, nearly naked, or nude performers) that I've reached my saturation point for dealing with. In addition to all the other projects consuming my time, I do not know if I want to spend additional time on such an old one: particularly since I was dissatisfied with my photographic endeavor at the time. (I didn’t utilize the best photo-chronicling techniques, didn’t attend enough of the performances to get all the pictures I wanted, and didn’t have the best equipment to maximize my efforts) If I am already unhappy, does it make sense to spend more time and energy on something with which—at best—I’ll only be partially satisfied?

Right now I am in a place where the majority of my discretionary time is spent trying to push out the remaining chapters on my Batman novel. I am in a rush for several crucial reasons. I want to finish the 1st draft before the new Batman Movie (The Dark Knight) comes out, specifically so I can turn the novel into a screenplay (targeted for a TV miniseries). As the TV show ‘Smallville’ is winding down to its likely last season (2008-2009), the period is approaching where a new vision of the DC Universe—as it relates to television and film—has the potential of being seriously considered. My vision (led by the Batman, Superman, and WonderWoman characters) is groundbreaking, intriguing, and most-of-all sustainable for a period of 5-15 years.

Another reason for the rush is that the transition period I am in for my career path will soon close. Once the new work begins in earnest, I will not have the luxury of devoting time and energy to this project except in dribs and drabs. If I cannot get the ball sustainably rolling before that time, it may be over 10 years before all the personal and external factors align again.

The proceeding two paragraphs lay out, in part, my reluctance to work on older photos I am already dissatisfied with. Whatever efforts I make in photography over the next while, I really want to devote my energies to finding a collaborative model who is willing to work with me to develop our skills and both our portfolios, despite my current lack of finances for that endeavor.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Finding the Simple Beauty of Nature

Last week, I had a couple spare hours to visit the UC Davis Arboretum. Though my camera battery was almost dead, I was able to get some decent images. The following thumbnail (click here to see large image) is the first of the images. Over the next week more of them will follow.

While I was walking, I was again struck by how much of noticing the beauty around me was a matter of perspective. The flower pictured here, was away from the rest of the similar type flowers, close enough to the walking path that I was surprised it hadn’t gotten trampled. It looked rather dismal, until I got down on my stomach and looked at the flower from ground level.

If I may anthropormorphize for a moment, the change in perspective altered the flower from the solitary loner who just didn’t get that the best place to grow was back with the rest of the pack; it altered the flower to the trailblazing maverick that demanded attention from the passerby by separating itself from the common and declaring this is where I will grow.

There is an old colloquialism about how it’s not the circumstances in our life we control, it’s only our reactions to them that can be controlled. The greater truth is that often our initial reactions are not even under our direct control. But we can change our perspective: get down on the ground and look at the circumstances from another viewpoint; or climb up high and try and look at the bigger picture of life.

Monday, March 17, 2008

One Sacrifice Too Many

How Much is Too Much?

I heard a news report on the radio a few days ago about a large number of highschool students, their teachers, and families staging a walkout of their local highschools because the budget proposed by the California Governor and legislature proposes large across-the-board cuts in all areas of state spending, including education. The students were irate because they claim their districts are already suffering from overcrowding, not enough resource funds, and not enough teachers; further cuts would make the situation worse.

The protests by the students is only one of many vocal complaints being heard in California. The public airwaves are full of protest ads, supermarket parking lots staked out by special interest devotees intending to use ballot and propositions to protect their particular corner of the budget pie.

My question for you isn’t whether or not any particular group is justified in their demand to keep their budget from being slashed. My question is when faced with overwhelming deficit projections, and an economy in recession, what is the responsibility of the individual and special interest group to help rectify the damage? As a society, we seem more than willing to ask the richest amongst us for even more help, but does that mean the disadvantaged have no responsibility to change?

I ask this because despite all the research indicating how beneficial after-school programs in athletics and the arts are to helping kids, the entire idea of beyond-basic preparatory education is relatively recent. When the nation was founded, the majority of the citizens didn’t receive education past the early grades: and extra curricular sports and music being offered at school was unheard of. If we are going to ask people to pay more taxes and require city service workers to take pay cuts, should we just allow the children and youth to continue in blithe ignorance of the current state of the nation? That would be like parents who wear rags, so their kids can dress in the latest designer fashions.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

It's All About Sex... Apparently.

Time Magazine published an online article citing a report that just came out saying French people are doing it sooner, more often, and later into life. The report, based on survey data, also indicated that women’s data has caught up or surpassed men on various factors such as age of first intercourse experience, percent of sexually active 18-35yr olds, etc.

Ignoring for a moment the problems intrinsic in survey data, even when one assumes that data is accurate, it is not good science to postulate on reasons for the data obtained. Because the Time magazine didn’t provide a link to the actual report, I cannot be certain if the researchers actually proposed reasons, or just reported the aggregate responses from those survey. Either way, it really isn’t good for Time to repeat it.

The question more interesting to me than the science (or lack thereof) undertaken by the researchers is whether or not more people, having sex sooner, more often, with more people, and later into life is actually a good thing? I would be curious to see if the data for post-intercourse contraceptives, abortions, and/or sexually transmitted diseases has also correspondingly increased. In China, where attitudes and practices about sex have become more liberal, there has been a drastic increase in the amount of high school-aged girls going to abortion clinics to terminate unplanned pregnancies.

If people are going to have sex, they should be smart and plan ahead. There are more consequences to sex than just pregnancy. If 36% of French women and 21% of French men are reporting experiencing frequent or occasional sexual disfunction, maybe quantity doesn’t always trump quality.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Is Peace the Natural State of the Planet?

I don’t really have an answer to this question, but I find myself wondering this more and more as each year passes. I have heard friends and colleagues answer this question differently. For the most part, it seems their answers have more to do with their individual personalities than with the actual state of the world.

I never bought the adage “Those who fail to learn from history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them.” It makes complex societal behavior far too simplistic, while simultaneously attributing ignorance as the cause of failure. As if smart knowledgeable people don’t make mistakes.

For some people, it seems more understandable to ascribe a sort of benevolent impetus to Nature; for others they attribute a naturalistic progression/development of planets and species from simple to complex, then ultimately to disorder. Regardless of which position one is closer to—the caring overseer that wants the best for us, or the impartial system of evolutionary progression and descent into physical chaos—it is the question of ‘What next?’ that all humans are left with.

Do we have some sort to leave the planet and society in a better state than the way in which we found it? If so, then is it better to pursue an achievable improvement in the individual time each of us has before we die, or is it better to strive for the long-term improvement which may not be achievable in any one life-time?

Having a peaceful planet is a goal that appears to be much longer-term project than can be accomplished in any one lifetime. The cyclic nature of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from cease-fire to armed conflict illustrates a true peace must outlast the generation that starts it. If the accords made that settled the IRA-UK conflict last another few decades, then that situation can serve as an example of the establishment of modern-era peace.

It may well be that while peace is the natural state of the planet, it is not the natural state of society. In other words, the species on the planet will come to a homeostatic balance of creation, propagation, and destruction. It could be the establishment and maintenance of societies that disrupts that balance, since each society competes with all the others.

Competition between societies can be civil until one society begins (or attempts to begin) the destruction of another. At that point, the conflicts almost always include some level of violence. The attempt during the 20th century by democratic societies to destroy communistic societies spilled into violence repeatedly, particularly in the Middle East and SouthEast Asia. The establishment of Western Society in the Americas, led to conflicts with the existing native societies once the Native Americans realized that the intent of the incoming settlers was to replace the current American societal models, with ones from Europe.

I think there is something intriguing to this idea, that I’ll have to address in more depth at another time; but suffice to say that while I don’t have a definitive answer to the post-initiating question, my current working answer is “Not exactly. Sans society, peace can be the natural state of the planet; with society, peace cannot.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Golden Rule as a lifestyle

I listened to a talk radio show the other day. The guest of the day, was Karen Armstrong, wrote a Biographical book on the Bible. One of the main topics of discussion was how religion had shifted from attempting to personify and embody the variants of the golden rule, to the more rigid and moralistic use of sacred texts to bash over the head, those who disagree with some particular moral standard or issue. She reiterated how the idea of caring for and bettering the community and society we lived in was laid aside in pursuit of the absolute truth, being right, and proving every dissenter wrong.

For the most part I agree with most of what she said. As I was reading, I ran across a passage by James—one of the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth—who said something similar:

“Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?” -James 4:11-12

This text reminded me that it isn’t my job to convince those of different belief systems that I’m right and their wrong. It isn’t my job to chastise others whose actions I may find personally distasteful. I’m not responsible for creating the moral and ethical laws other people should live by; and I’m definitely not righteous enough to judge them when they violate said standard.
…It is hard enough, just to live by the golden rule.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Where, Oh where, has Daeman been?

Over 90 days without a post. Such inaction does not indicate a person who understands the nature of blogging. I apologize for my virtual inactivity.

Though I have been absent from posting, I have been utilizing that time for other endeavors. While I disdain talking about myself (in favor of talking about ideas) I will give a brief indication of my activities:

  • In November, my father had surgery to remove some cancer.
  • I spent most of December and January studying for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) which I took on January 25. My combined score was a 31R.
  • I have been helping my mother with her doctoral dissertation.
  • I have written 5 more scenes in my novel, and prepped 10 more.
  • I have been reevaluating the nature of this particular blog.

The last activity has left me in somewhat of a quandary. There are numerous things I would enjoy discussing, but most of them require outside research. I am eager to do the research, but currently do not have access to the majority of (academic) electronic journals I need. I am hoping to rectify this in the next few weeks.

I do wish to include photographs in this blog, but because I want to include new material, that necessitates breaking out the camera equipment and taking photographs: something that I haven’t done in over 4 months.

More on this later...