Sunday, May 4, 2014

Vaclav Havel

My Zimbio  Brendan Eich, CEO of Mozilla, was forced to step down from Mozilla a few couple months ago, because of his views about same sex marriage.  But that isn't what this post is about.  It's about Vaclav Havel, whose 1978 essay about dissent is quoted in a posting about same sex marriage:

“The post-totalitarian system demands conformity, uniformity, and discipline,” Havel wrote, using the term he preferred over “dictatorship” for the complex system of social control experienced in Czechoslovakia. We also have a system that is demanding conformity, uniformity and discipline — it’s not just about marriage law, to be honest. It’s really about something much bigger — crushing the belief that the sexes are distinct in deep and meaningful ways that contribute to human flourishing. Obviously marriage law plays a role here — recent court rulings have asserted that the sexes are interchangeable when it comes to marriage. That’s only possible if they’re not distinct in deep and meaningful ways. But the push to change marriage laws is just one part of a larger project to change our understanding of sexual distinctions. See, for example,the 50 genders of Facebook or the refusal to understand how women’s distinct career choices explain virtually all of the supposed pay gap that partisans exploit for political gain....

So what is the difference between marriage and other relationships? There’s no question marriage has been treated dramatically differently than other relationships by governments and society. Why? Is it that it features a more vibrant or emotional connection? Or is there some feature that is a difference in kind – that marks it out as something that ought to be socially structured? We usually don’t want government in our other relationships, right? So why is marriage singled out throughout all time and human history as a different type of recognized relationship?
Well, what singled it out was that sex was involved. Sex. Knocking boots. The bump and grind. Dancing in the sheets. Making the beast with two backs. Doing the cha-cha. And so on and so forth. And why does that matter? Well, there’s precisely one bodily system for which each of us only has half of the system. It’s the one that involves sex between one man and one woman. It’s with respect to that system that the unit is the mated pair. In that system, it’s not just a relationship that is the union of minds, wills or important friendships. It’s the literal union of bodies. In sexual congress, in intercourse between a man and a woman, you are literally coordinated to a single bodily end...
Vaclav Havel was a dissident, poet and eventual president of Czechoslavakia.  He lived under Communism and eventually helped overthrow it.  A worthy author to quote....
This post was written for The Federalist... Molly Hemingway.  You can read the complete posting here:

Geography and eWISEinc LLC

My Zimbio   Maps, Maps, Maps.

One of the reasons for joining AAA used to be a package of maps and instructions they would send you to help you plan long trips.  Today's Google Maps solves that problem... though AAA will still help you if your car breaks down or you meet someone in the Target parking lot who locked her baby in the car with the keys (happened to me this week).

I took a shortcut home from school one day when I was 8... and got pretty lost.  My second foray with a long trip was in Junior High School, the first of four bike trips from Connecticut to New Hampshire.  We planned which route to take and where to stay each night.  Every summer my brother, several friends and/or I took versions of that bike trip, although we never all rode and it was never the same group (injuries got in the way).

Army ROTC helped me improve my map skills, culminating in my graduation from Ranger school in 1984...  in addition to a challenging land navigation course in the "City phase," we could be questioned at any time on a patrol to point out our location on a map with the end of a blade of grass.  Mind you, the challenge could come in the middle of a swamp in 20-degree weather after you had been carrying a 70 pound ruck on 3 hours sleep and two skimpy meals for five weeks.  My map skills had improved significantly.

In my first job in the Army as a Regular Army Officer, we deployed an early version of that geographic system on your phone.  The system was 2 1/2 feet square and let you add data with a cumbersome and slow interface.  Although I had done statistical analysis as part of my thesis, winning the Julius Turner Prize as an undergraduate, my interactions with this new "GIS" lit a light bulb for me:  computers are going to dramatically change the way we interact with the world and the way we lead organizations.

After obtaining my Harvard MBA, I interacted with the "Catalyst" team at Sun Microsystems.  One of the marketing managers was responsible for working with independent software vendors that built GIS systems with UNIX.  In those days, ESRI and MAPINFO were the two main competitors.

A couple years ago I led Lockheed Martin's capture team on the Military Terrain III response.  The organization responsible for this geographic data Request for Proposal was the Army Geospatial Center, nominally part of the Army's Corps of Engineers, although the National Geospatial Center has that mission for the government as a whole.  Sadly, the Army cancelled that acquisition a bit over a month  ago... posting several small business set-asides to fill the gap (funding permitting).

Since I'm a small business, I'm investigating.  Many US Armed Forces weapons systems are dependent on geographic systems to operate.  Would be intriguing to help!