Legal, Laws, and Regs religion

Free will and religion

The Columbia Missourian has a thoughtful article on how the different religions in Missouri view Amendment 2. It’s timely, for me at least, because I needed to be reminded that religion does not automatically kill brain cells.

The St. Louis Post Post-Dispatch has an excellent article on the economic impact of not passing Amendment 2. Not only are we closing the doors to most stem cell research (including adult stem cell), it’s closing the doors to almost all biolife research in this state–primarily because any time someone wants to introduce a bill encouraging such, those opposed to embryonic stem cell research attack it, worried that in some small way the unrelated research might open a door for this activity.

Note in the article the reasons for Amendment 2: people like Rep. Lembke and state Senator Bartle, who spend all their time trying to pass legislation every year to criminalize embryonic stem cell research. Year after year, they try to push this through, and if they succeed, this means people such as Dr. Stephanie Watson can’t seek help for her daughter’s diabetes, even in another state, if such is based on embryonic stem cell research. To do so, would make her a felon. Oh excuse me, our beloved state representative and senator are thinking on not pushing this through as a felony–just making it one of extremely huge fines, which I’m sure that most Missourians can afford.

I got into a joke of a debate at Blogher with a person who is against such effort because of her religious beliefs. What she failed to explain is why it’s better to trash unused embryos left over from In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) than it is to use them for research that could possibly help find cures for Dr. Watson’s daughter’s diabetes, as well as Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s, or Matt Fickie’s congenital kidney disease. I am finding that the right to life people seem to be willing to kill off any number of living people in order to save one embryo–and this doesn’t make sense. Is it really life they value? Or is it the empowerment that comes from being able to exert control in a world, and on a world, where they feel increasingly powerless and threatened?

(PS Also see Marianne Richmond’s post at Blogher on this issue for another Missourian’s view. And another article on denominational views on Amendment 2. )

Photography Places

Brer Fox

I’ve only had the time for two fall photo shoots, though I hope to get out a little more in the next few weeks. I’ve included some photos from the Botanical Gardens in this post.


When at Botanical this week I noticed out of the corner of my eye a small, orange animal running across the sidewalk. I thought it was a cat at first but when I looked over, it was a red fox, not five feet away. I later found out that she is the resident fox and that she recently had five new babies. I hope to return in a few weeks and gets some photos of fox kits.

Considering that Missouri Botanical Gardens is in the middle of the city, one wouldn’t necessarily expect to see fox. However, she’s encouraged because she makes a terrific, natural rabbit control officer.

Botanical Gardens Japanese Lake with colorful fall foliage

Seeing her reminded me of Brer Fox, which reminded me, again, of the Disney movie, Song of the South. Rumor has it that Disney may release the movie on DVD this November in honor of the 60th anniversary of the original release of the movie. Disney is still concerned about the reprecussions about black stereotypes in the movie, as well as the sugar-coating of the post-slavery south. However, I think the movie would provide a terrific point of discussion about the history of the south and the interaction and attitudes about and between blacks and whites, as compared to fictional representations of same. It is these latter day fictional representations that influenced the majority of us who did not live in the south.

Missouri Botanical Garden: Burning Bush

Seeing this movie when I was young, probably more than any other event, is what sparked my early interest in the south: the culture, the people, and the history. It may have presented a view that wasn’t real, but it was intriguing to young eyes, nonetheless. I would list it in my top five movies that have had the most impact on me (right up there with To Kill a Mockingbird, which just added to my interest in all things southern).

Spider Mum in Fall hues

Returning to the Botanical trip, when the fox appeared, I had already put away my camera. I kicked myself for having done so and missed a photo opportunity; however, I spent the entire time frozen with mouth open in surprised, so doubt I would have gotten much of a photo. Doesn’t lessen the moment not having ‘proof’ of the event.


Just Shelley Web

A work in progress

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I apologize for late replies to emails and such. I’ve not been checking either email or weblog posts that frequently lately, and will only be doing so erratically for the next couple of months. If I don’t reply, don’t think me rude. Well, don’t think me rude only because I’m not replying right away.

As mentioned in the last post, I’ve had a heck of a time trying to figure out what I want from my new sites. The trend now, especially with tech sites is white or gray or gradient backgrounds, centered content, no or minimum graphics, and ads. It’s all very purposeful, professional, but there’s not a bean of personality in most of it.

I don’t think returning to the days of yore when we had paisley backgrounds and bright blue fonts is necessarily the way to go, but I wonder sometimes at the parsimonious nature of web sites–especially ones related to technology. True, we don’t want to load the sites down with graphics, but we all dump in photos from Flickr and videos from YouTube, so I don’t think bandwidth is the consideration. It’s as if we’re afraid that adding our personality to the page lessens its value, which is a hell of a thing.

Regardless, I do want the new sites to project a level of competency along with the personality, and therein becomes the challenge. I just couldn’t come up with a general theme to drive out the sites, not until this last week.

I’ve taken up book binding as a hobby again. I really can’t spare the time, but I find it helps with stress, and I need something other than work on tech, work on book, work on weblog, shuffle out for a walk and a pic, and repeat. I need something to do with my hands, and I find it wonderfully soothing to touch the many different hand pressed papers; to enjoy the rich colors and the infinite variety of patterns and forms.

This has, in turn, acted as inspiration for the design of the new sites, each of which will celebrate a specific form of craft: such as batik, bookbinding, engraving, stained glass, and the delicate enamel and metal popular in the Art Deco period. I like the idea of writing about modern technology in a site whose design is inspired by a textile method as old as time. At a minimum, it’s a fun challenge and a way of growing my design skills, slight as they are.

Speaking of crafts, O’Reilly recently started a new magazine and site, Craft as companion to its Make magazine. One reason given is to attract a female demographic, which made me wince at the stereotyping. I think, though, if the site dumps the obvious pink lettering and doesn’t completely focus on female centric projects, it can successfully attract both men and women.

The whole concept of ‘craft’ encompasses both culture as well as artifact and goes beyond that which was taught in home ec or shop. Any person who has seen a person lovingly oil a hand carved cherrywood table, spin a pottery vase, create a magnificent mosaic of glass–or bind a book–understands what I mean when I say craft. Many people would disdain to call themselves ‘artist’, preferring the more solid craftswoman or craftsman. Not all boys want to build robots to scare the dogs, and not all girls want to knit mittens, but both sexes can take pride in their skill working on a craft, whatever that craft is.

Book binding, batik, wood carving, embroidery, weaving, engraving and metal work, and so on–there is nothing in any of this that’s inherently unique to any specific sex, though there are gender specific practices. In Jakarta, for instance, using a pattern tool or cap in batiking is traditionally done by men, while batiking by hand is traditionally done by women. Why this difference, I don’t know, but it is an interesting question. Therein lies the point: a site that’s focused on attracting both men and women leads to such questions, which in turn generates discussion and understanding, which can lead, someday, to a lessening of such gender-based boundaries and stereotypes.

O’Reilly can do much to ensure a good audience of both men and women in Craft–as long as the company remembers the long history and legacy associated with the word ‘craft’, and doesn’t focus only on knitted iPod holders and making Halloween decorations out of tampons, (though kudos for such imaginative use of every day material).


Learning JavaScript on the streets

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I received my first author copy of Learning JavaScript this week and it’s now for sale at Amazon and elsewhere, though it may take a few days to reach full stock.

O’Reilly really moved on this book in order to get it into the store shelves before the Christmas rush. Just in time for all of your holiday gift shopping. Now I need to get the book support site up. Layout and tech is easy: design, now that’s hard.

If you happen to buy it, I hope you’ll feel moved to add comments out at Amazon and elsewhere.

I’ve also modified the organization and focus of the Adding Ajax book. There’s a great number of Ajax books on the street, so we really needed something that sets this apart. Luckily we have some time to slide with this book so that I could do a re-organization. I feel now that it’s a much better book.

Diversity Weblogging

This is not a feminist weblog

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I’ve been informed that I can no longer call myself a feminist because I don’t agree with the other feminist webloggers as regards to the Alas a Weblog issue. To be honest, after reading some of the responses, I must say I don’t feel too unhappy.

I’m not sure where this new breed of feminist webloggers has come from. I do know that I’ve seen a breathless amount of intolerance practiced this week, not to mention enough group think to bring down the house.

It’s not an issue of disagreement–no one denies anyone the right to disagree (including myself). It’s that we can’t disagree and still call ourselves ‘feminists’, at least within these so-called feminist circles of weblogging. In a way, this is rather scary stuff: the more we participate as a ‘community’ member, the less freedom we, as individuals, have.

This has been a rather eye opening experience.