This post is being written in Tinderbox 6 (B60, to be specific).
Let’s see if this works…
Nature and Technology
It's almost common knowledge these days that technology seems to do more to isolate us from the natural world, than help us appreciate it. That's been the point ever since fire, right? Then there are the consequences of advanced technological civilizations, like climate change, air pollution, landfills, shopping malls, suburbs, and habitat loss.
But it occurred to me yesterday, in an e-mail conversation with Loren Webster, that there is at least one technology that has really increased my awareness of and appreciation for the natural world, and that's the camera.
I grew up as a nerd, read science fiction, received an engineering degree at the Naval Academy. I dig technology, though I've grown more skeptical of it as I've grown older. I'm no longer persuaded that any particular technology can "change everything." But I still love a cool gadget, and cameras have been among the coolest gadgets the last few years.
"When you have a great hammer, everything looks like a nail." When you have a great (hell, even a "good") camera, you're looking for new subjects to shoot. My preferences seem to run to landscapes, birds and insects; people, not so much. While I've always enjoyed a beautiful sky, or a lovely vista, birds and insects have mostly been of little interest to me. Until I had a camera with a long focal length lens, or a macro capability.
I know more about birds now than I ever would have imagined knowing before. It's not very much, I'll grant you. But I can identify several species of local birds, and I am even learning their calls, so I know where to find them. I can identify an Egret, Snowy Egret, Blue Heron, Tri-colored Heron, Green Heron, Wood Stork, Ibis, and Spoonbill. I know the difference between a Cormorant and an Anhinga. I know what Ospreys sound like, what Woodpeckers sound like (apart from the "tap-tap-tap-tap"). And these little guys! The Yellow-Rumped Warblers, the Painted Buntings, the Northern Parulas, to say nothing of the Cardinals, Robins, Cedar Waxwings, and Mockingbirds.
I never really paid attention to birds before I had a camera with a long lens.
Now I worry about cats.
Also had a Tufted Titmouse visit the feeder.
The Painted Buntings were at the feeder today. The female perched on the other side, so I wasn't able to get a clear shot. I used my bathroom as a blind, opened the window, took out the screen and stood in the shower.
I hadn't seen this guy before. Very, very shy. Flits from branch to branch, never remains still very long. Very vocal. Hasn't been to the feeder yet.
Squirrels broke my last bird feeder, and I finally got around to getting a new one. I had never seen these guys before, so I had to look them up. Cloudy day today, so lighting wasn't ideal. That's my excuse anyway.
Insomnia does have its little perqs. I figured as long as I was awake, I might as well go out and look at the eclipse. It wasn't the best seeing. It was hard to tell, but I think I was shooting through some thin cloud cover. Focus was very difficult, even manual and I couldn't make out very many stars. This was shortly after the peak. Shot it with the Zuiko 50-200mm and the EC14 teleconverter, from a tripod. Used the Wifi connection from the OM-D E-M1 to my iPhone 5s. Pretty cool.
So, The Eich Thing
I've been trying to think of something intelligent to offer about the Eich thing.
Anyway, Eich's got serious geek cred, and Mozilla needed a new CEO and the board hired Brendan Eich as its CEO. He'd been part of Mozilla for many years as its Chief Technology Officer, a co-founder even.
It seems Brendan Eich is also an opponent of gay marriage. He donated $1000.00 back in 2008 to the campaign for California's Proposition 8, which prohibited gay marriage. It passed, and was overturned in court.
Today, gay marriage is gaining acceptance and legal recognition all over the country, and opponents to it are regarded by many, rightly or wrongly, as bigots.
Well, some people didn't like the fact that someone who opposed gay marriage was going to be the leader of a corporation that regarded itself as something of a paragon of "openness" and "tolerance." The resulting furor basically hounded Eich into resigning from his position as CEO of Mozilla.
Now there are people on both sides making extreme claims about McCarthyism, or social progress.
I like to say that irony is the fifth fundamental force of the universe, and I think it's behind the acceleration of this mass of opinion sharing.
Thinking is hard. It really is. Which is why people seldom do it. They rely on shortcuts. One of which is the source of much of this nonsense.
What's going on here is a direct result of what happens when we reduce "people" to one-dimensional entities, and then make profound choices on the basis of that one dimension.
Gay - straight.
Black - white.
Man - woman.
Rich - poor.
Liberal - conservative.
Right - left.
Top - bottom.
Jew - gentile.
Atheist - believer.
I asked Siri what the opposite of "bigot" was, and the search yielded no antonyms.
Basically, a bigot is anyone who reduces a human being to a one-dimensional entity and then makes profound judgments based on that that one dimension.
We do it all the time, because it's so much easier than trying to regard the whole person and make meaningful, just decisions.
The whole effort behind Prop 8 is based on a one-dimensional view of gay people (and marriage), so Eich was making profound choices about large groups of people he knew nothing about except one thing, they were homosexual.
Now the folks who support his resignation as CEO are basing their opinion on just one dimension of Brendan Eich - he opposed gay marriage.
Neither "side" has a claim to moral superiority. This isn't a positive outcome by any means. At most, it's a zero-sum outcome; though I'm afraid it may ultimately contribute to a net-negative outcome, as one-dimensional thinking has scored a victory for one "side" and it's simply going to energize and embolden others to exhibit similar thinking regarding their particular axis of bigotry.
There will be many arguments about which axes are justified in being righteous enough to make bigoted judgments upon.
There's nothing to celebrate here.
Test to see if this thing's working.