Archive for August, 2006

Bury the Chains

August 22, 2006

Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves by Adam Hochschild is a brief, readable account of the movement that ended slavery in the British Empire. It’s worthwhile, because it makes two points that are too often forgotten. First, that all the tactics of organized social movements (boycotts, pamphlets, petitions, etc.) that we take for granted were pioneered by the anti-slavery movement. Secondly, that when the movement started in the 1780s, the vast majority of the world’s inhabitants were slaves by any meaningful definition. Too many things are still wrong in the world, but at least that is no longer true.

I am alive and you are dead

August 15, 2006

I have been on a Philip K. Dick jag lately, triggered by the release of the new movie A Scanner Darkly (I will write a review of it later). Anyway, mixed in with a serial re-reading of his novels, I took the time to read the excellent Dick biography I am alive and you are dead. Although it does an excellent job of explaining the source of Dick’s obsessions with alternate realities and surface deceptions, the real value of the book is the numerous, often amusing, anecdotes that illustrate Dick’s character. A visiting French intellectual insists Ubik is one of the five best novels ever written, Dick assumes he must mean, at most, one the five best sci-fi novels ever. When the visitor insists that he really means one of the five best novels ever, the humble Dick is left baffled. Dick is convinced that Stanislaw Lem is part of an elaborate Soviet plot to lure him to Poland to brainwash him, and prevent him from revealing God’s ultimate truth to the world. Dick cannot understand his wife’s anger at his modeling of the controlling, insensitive, domineering wife in Confessions of a Crap Artist on her: “It’s just a book,” he keeps saying. Unfortunately, for Dick, it never was.

WordCamp

August 11, 2006

I attended WordCamp last weekend, and took a bunch of bad pictures with my cell phone. You can see them here.

Finally Surfacing

August 8, 2006

So, the last few months of my life have been consumed by a co-location center move at work. Now, that project is over, and it feels like coming up to the surface from a long dive underwater. Once again, I have my own life.