Photography Places

Meets the eye

Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful day, almost 70 degrees. There was a breeze, but it was warm and gentle and one could go about with a light jacket and feel just right.

I hadn’t been up to Shaw in a long time because of the road construction on I-44. The state is adding an extra lane all the way to Gray Summit, and in the process the lanes are narrow and the road surface uneven. The speed limit is supposed to be 50, but I’ve yet to see anyone follow this. Well, other than myself. A Ford Focus handles beautifully on country roads, gravel, in the city and what not, but it does not do well on uneven roads.

At Shaw I debated on taking the forest path to the wet land, or the country road behind the back. I had my iPod in its new heavy duty Belkin leather case, and it was fun just walking along the road, listening to Bond; taking the ear buds out from time to time to listen to the wind through the trees and the birds singing.

I also took along my camera because, though Shaw is in the middle of its dormant stage, you never know when something will pop up that might be fun to photograph. Such was the case yesterday when I came across piles of cut Eastern redcedar.


Eastern redcedar is really a juniper tree, but it still has a beautiful grain and smell. The photography gave me an excuse to get close to the wood and breath in the scent. I noticed that the trees must have been fresh cut, as they were still ‘bleeding’ from the cuts.




A couple of folks came along and seemed dismayed to see what looked like healthy young trees cut down. After all, this is a Nature Center, what could be more natural than trees? Especially when the Center replaces the stands of trees with what looked like fields of weed. However, this effort is part of the the ongoing effort to remove invasive species all across the park; restoring native wetland and prairie, as well as stands of hickory and oak, which are more natural for this area.

Environments are delicate, and the health of a particular environment is not necessarily obvious in the eye of the beholder. Though a vast empty prairie may look like ruin, and a forest of cedar look richly healthy, the opposite can be and often is in true–prairies are alive with many species of plants and animals that may be difficult to spot, while eastern redcedar forests may contain just that: big redcedar trees and nothing else.

At one time, Shaw was prairie and wetland, but people came along and plowed it under into farmland. When the farms were abandoned and the ground lay fallow, rather than be reclaimed by what was natural wildflowers and grasses, seeds contained in berries eaten by birds made their way to the fertile ground and honeysuckle and eastern redcedar thrived. Unfortunately, redcedar needles contain a high level of acidity, unpalatable to other plants. Both species choke out others by overrunning the ground as well as providing a canopy preventing young plants from getting enough sun.


Like many other areas in the midwest, work is underway to pull up these invasive plants, and replant native species in their place. Until this is finished, every winter the park is a mass of pulled and destroyed honeysuckle vine and redcedar trees in addition to the marks of controlled burns.

I left the road half way around to take the forest path past the prairie. The park had added a new bench overlooking the hills in a nice place to sit and enjoy the view of the grassland and the sod house on the hill.


I liked the inscription on the bench: He was in love with this world.


Old joke here at Burningbird: No stone was harmed in the making of this photo.





On a lighter note

I have a post coming later on a lovely walk I had yesterday. With photos, of course.

In the meantime, I think I’ve made my last, my absolute last, tweak of the design for Burningbird. I’ve lightened the blockquote colors, and added a graphic at the end of the content column in the main page. I’ve removed the “Linked in” listing at the end of the post, as some aggregators think if a link is given twice in the same posting, it’s a spam, so I won’t repeat the link.

I’m also not going to be repeating photos in the main page, but only in the entry page. With this, I can use larger photos, and keep the main page from being too slow to load.

I have two other designs to complete on my site: one for my main, which will point to example code, tutorials, writings, work history, client sites, and the other things we like to brag on; and one for the experimental tech server and the newly re-designed and re-focused Tinfoil Project. The former will be based on ‘fire and ice’ after my new hand crafted marble picked up in Idaho; the latter will be in shades of dead leaf rusts and beiges, silver, pewter, and brushed aluminum. The Tinfoil Project site will also have a rather unusual organization.

But Burningbird the weblog is fully cooked and only wants some minor cleanup and accessibility tweaks, and a quick look in different browsers in different operating systems to make sure that I didn’t break anything. Huzzah. It only took me five years to get to this point.


I do have fun with the photos for my header, but I’m forced to admit that this is one of my favorites.

screen copy of web site with shark image


Debate on DRM

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Doc Searls points to a weblog post by the Guardian Unlimited’s Lloyd Shepherd on DRM and says it’s one of the most depressing things he’s read. Shepherd wrote:

I’m not going to pick a fight with the Cory Doctorows of the world because they’re far more informed and cleverer than me, but let’s face it: we’re going to have to have some DRM. At some level, there has to be an appropriate level of control over content to make it economically feasible for people to produce it at anything like an industrial level. And on the other side of things, it’s clear that the people who make the consumer technology that ordinary people actually use – the Microsofts and Apples of the world – have already accepted and embraced this. The argument has already moved on.

Doc points to others making arguments in refutation of Shepherd’s thesis (Tom Coates and Julian Bond), and ends his post with:

We need to do with video what we’ve started doing with music: building a new and independent industry.

Yes, the next generation of PCs and Macs will have DRM cripplecrap in them. Hey, who needs WIPO, Congress and the U.N. to mandate copyright craziness, when Intel is glad to put the means right in the hardware?

But current PCs already have DRM, truth be told. (Try getting a screen shot of a DVD frame on your Mac.) Yet you can still make music and movies that can be heard, watched, produced and distributed outside The System. That won’t change.

And that’s what matters most.

Because in the long run, the indies will win.

That’s how we got the Net, folks. And that’s how we’ll keep it, too. Even if our dawn’s early light is years away, it will come. Meanwhile, we have to endure this winter of dissed content.

I don’t see how DRM necessarily disables independents from continuing their efforts. Apple has invested in iTunes and iPods, but one can still listen to other formats and subscribe to other services from a Mac. In fact, what Shepard is proposing is that we accept the fact that companies like Apple and Google and Microsoft and Yahoo are going to have these mechanisms in place, and what can we do to ensure we continue to have options on our desktops?

There’s another issue though that’s of importance to me in that the concept of debate being debated (how’s this for a circular discussion). The Cluetrain debate method consists of throwing pithy phrases at each other over (pick one): spicey noodles in Silicon Valley; a glass of ale in London; something with bread in Paris; a Boston conference; donuts in New York. He or she who ends up with the most attention (however attention is measured) wins.

In Doc’s weblog comments, I wrote:

What debate, though? Those of us who have pointed out serious concerns with Creative Commons (even demonstrating problems) are ignored by the creative commons people. Doc, you don’t debate. You repeat the same mantra over and over again: DRM is bad, openness is good. Long live the open internet (all the while you cover your ears with your hands and hum “We are the Champions” by Queen under your breath).

Seems to me that Lloyd Shepherd is having the debate you want. He’s saying, DRM is here, it’s real, so now how are we going to come up with something that benefits all of us?

Turning around going, “Bad DRM! Bad!” followed by pointing to other people going “Bad DRM! Bad!” is not an effective response. Neither is saying how unprofitable it is, when we only have to turn our little eyeballs over to iTunes to generate an “Oh, yeah?”

Look at the arguments in the comments to Shepherd’s post. He is saying that as a business model, we’re seeing DRM work. The argument back is that the technology fails. He’s talking ‘business’ and the response is ‘technology’. And when he tries to return to business, the people keep going back to technology (with cries of ‘…doomed to failure! Darknet!’).

The CES you went to showed that DRM is happening. So now, what can we do to have input into this to ensure that we’re not left with orphaned content if a particular DRM goes belly up? That we have fair use of the material? If it is going to exist, what can we do to ensure we’re not all stuck with betamax when the world goes VHS?

Rumbles of ‘darknet’, pointers to music stores that feature few popular artists, and clumsy geeky software as well as loud hyperbole from what is a small majority does not make a ‘debate’. Debate is acknowledging what the other ’side’ is saying, and responding accordingly. Debate requires some openness.

There is reason to be concerned about DRM (Digital Rights Management–using technology to restrict access to specific types of media). If operating systems begin to limit what we can and cannot use to view or create certain types of media; if search engine companies restrict access to specific types of files; if commercial competition means that me having an iPod, as compared to some other device, limits the music or services at other companies I have access to, we are at risk in seeing certain components of the internet torn into pieces and portioned off to the highest bidders.

But by saying that all DRM is evil and that only recourse we have is to keep the Internet completely free, and only with independents will we win and we will win, oh yes we will–this not only disregards the actuality of what’s happening now, it also disregards that at times, DRM can be helpful for those not as well versed in internet technologies.


My apologies to Lloyd Shepherd for spelling his name wrong. I’ve attempted to correct the misspellings. Please let me know if I’ve missed any.


Three Quarks

Knowing my interest in New Orleans and the history of the area, a friend sent me a link to a thoughtful, intelligent, and well written alternative approach to rebuilding the city: Rethinking, Then Rebuilding New Orleans by Richard Spark. I’ll return to this writing later in an essay on this subject I’m currently writing, but today I wanted to point out the site that originated this link: 3 Quarks Daily.

3 Quarks Daily is a community weblog that features original writing and links to articles on science, art, and literature. I’m sure I’ve heard of this site before, but there are so many that cover art and literature and sometimes one tires of New Yorker clones and therefore I hadn’t checked it out, at least enough to remember doing so. After reading this article, though, and checking out other offerings, I subscribed to the site and now I find it to be one of the first sites I check when catching up on my reading.

So far this week, I’ve read about the James Agee revivalreturning to the moon, a Smoking Gun investigation of James Frey (upon reading of which left me going who would want to buy this book regardless of factuality?), and Reductionist versus Pluralist view of cancer. I have about a dozen articles still on my to-read list.

It really is an amazing site, and addictive. Liking the site is unusual for me because normally when I’m faced with a publication that describes itself as covering ‘art and literature’, I find that after keeping up with the site for a time, my butt tightens, my nose raises into the air, and I start thinking with a Harvard accent. Not so with 3 Quarks. Thank goodness, too, because I can now keep up with my more well read, cosmopolitan, and erudite friends, without risk of losing my inner hick.

(Note to the editor, S. Abbas Raza: Consider bringing on more female contributors. I can recommend one to start: Yule Heibel.)