Friday, June 30, 2006

Protophoto Navigation

I threw a day's worth of programming into creating a new navigation scheme for ProtoPhoto. The site has about 400 galleries. This new navigation will let you find the galleries by group.

I now get to spend the rest of the day adding blurbs to the navigation pages. One of my big problems is that I have never figured out how to do a good two column page with CSS. My goal is to add enough text to the interior pages so that the navation column doesn't get cut off.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Uinta Moutain Trips

Provo River FallsIt takes longer to label pictures than it does to take them. Part of the challenge in finding the correct names for plants. About half the plants pictures are still in the TBD category. Any way, here are pictures of the Provo River Falls.

Smith and MorehouseI also snagged shots of Smith and Morehouse Reservoir, Oakley and the Weber River.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


I went to vote in the primaries. Mainly, I wanted to see if the new Deibold voting machines were as horrible as the progressive press claims.

Unfortunately, the only election in my precinct was a vote for the Republican candidate for sheriff. I would have had to switch from Unaffiliated to "Utah Republican." That thought gave me the willies; so I slunk away from the polls.

Since the Mormon voting block goes Republican these days, the Utah Republican primary is often more important than the general election. It would actually make a lot of sense in this state to Register Republican; so that you can vote in the election that counts.

Sadly, this years primary was a dud. That might explain why I couldn't find much information to include on the salt lake political directory for the primaries.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Mess of Flower Families

My camera takes okay Flower Pictures; Since I now have the disk space and bandwidth, I thought I snap flower photos when I take hikes. Of course, this decision means that my Wildflower gallery has grown out of control. So, I decided to undertake the task of splitting out the wildflower gallery by Family.

That means that I am spending the day dealing with the giant mess of flower names.

I said that plant naming schemes is a mess. The reason for this is that scientists have recently decided to rename all of the plants.

The original systems of classification developed by Linnaeus, et al., was designed to help botanists to name and indentify species. The current thinking is that the nomenclature should follow the phylogenetics of species. Phylogenetics is the evolutionary tree of life.

Personally, my sympathy lies with the Linnaeus thoughts on species identifiction. The nomenclature should first and foremost be designed to aide in the identification and communication of information. The efforts of achieving an ideal like creating a complete and perfect picture of the tree of life could easily be accomplished as a side effort.

The absurd game that botanist play to day leaves the world in an pitiable state where the words used to name plants change on a regular basis.

The Darwinian fed mania to have a Phylogenetic nomenclature has led many people to start renaming species before we really had the technology sufficient for building such a tree of life.

Had we kept the traditional nomenclature that was built with the aim of identification we would have been in an enviable situation where people could still read 5 year botany texts, and have multiple existing abstract models concerning figurations for a tree of life. Instead, we have an absolute mess where people dealing with plants have a difficult time communicating.

One really bizarre result of the Phylogenetics mania is that businesses that deal in plants have stopped using the scientific names for plants and have resorted to using the common names of plants because they find the common names more consistent.

The idea that the names have to perfectly reflect Gaia's creation of the earth is really quite contemptuous when you think of it. The earth is some six billion years old. The nature of geology means that there will be discontinuities in any given fossil record. There are some 350,000 identified species of living plants and many, many more extinct species. The idea that we can easily create a full, complete and perfect tree of life is really quite contemptuous.

Had the glorious scientists who recently undertook the attempt to rename all plants with a Phylogenetic nomenclature had a wick of sense, they would have realized that their efforts were like the early databases that used smart keys as the primary key for rows in a database. A smart key is a key that actually contains information about the data in the row. When you change the key, you inadvertantly break all of the existing relations in the database. For example, let's say I used your birthday as the primary key for your employment record. One day I realize that you were born in 1976, not 1967. My correcting that error would suddenly break the integrity of the database. I would loose track of your employment information.

The problem that occurs with smart keys is happening in botany and contemptuous scientists change names with Darwinian fanaticism. This idea that names must follow Phylogenetics is creating a situation where we are breaking our ability to communicate with eachother. We are breaking our ability to read botany texts from the past, etc..

Building a tree of life is a worthy effort. The effort would actually be easier if we kept the traditional nomenclature based on indentifiable attributes of plants. Such a schema would allow us to create more robust models of the tree of life. Preserving the traditional nomenclature would have preserved the history of errors made in a pure attribute based identification system.

Anyway, here are a few of the pages I've started. Right now each of the galleries only have one or two plants in it, but they should grow as I stick labels on pictures:

  • Asteracea Family (Aster Family)
  • Ranunculaceae Family (Buttercup Family)
  • Scrophulariaceae Family (Figwort Family )
  • Geraniaceae Family (Geranium Family)
  • Brassicaceae Family (Mustard Family)
  • Alliaceae (Onion Family)
  • Apiaceae Family (Parsley Family)
  • Penstomen Genus (Penstomen)
  • Polemoniaceae Family (Phlox Family)
  • Rosaceae Family (Rose Family)
  • Saturday, June 24, 2006

    Waste of a Day

    I wasted the day diddling away on stupid ecommerce stuff. One of the primary advertisers (Commission Junction) for my community sites launched a silly initiate where all of the publishers in their network are supposed to replace HTML links with JavaScript links. (Scott Jangro has some good information on this change.)

    The reason for this change is that ValueClick (the owner of CJ) has a pipe dream of building a massive data warehouse with consumer shopping data that they intend to use to manipulate consumer shopping decisions.

    They want me to put tracking codes on my site that they will use to undermine my site.

    Very bizarre.

    There are some nice merchants in the CJ network that I like. For example, I like Questia. This is an online library with several hundred thousand articles and books. They have many texts that are extremely hard to find, as well as new articles from scholarly journals that, again, are difficult to find.

    Also, while updating the links, I took the opportunity to make several older pages in the system DHTML Strict compliant. Perhaps if the pages are DHTML Strict, the search engines might send me more traffic.

    Thursday, June 22, 2006

    Wanship and Beyond

    Shack in WanshipThe magic of digital photography is that it takes more time to put labels on a picture than it does to take the picture. Anyway, on Monday and Tuesday of this week, I went on a flower hunting expedition into the Uintas. With the Macro Feature on my Sigma 28-90 lens, I am able to get internet quality images of most mountain flowers.

    Wahship DamThis particular trip took me on a full tour of the Mirror Lake Loop. I did a trip to the Mirror Lake highway early in June. The road was still closed at Butterfly. Since it takes forever to add images, I thought I would pop up a blog post with images of Wanship and Rockport Reservoir.

    Buffalo w. CalfUnfortunately, the zoom lens that came with my camera is on the fritz. Unless an animal is secured tidely in cage like my friend Mr. Buffalo, I was not able to get their images. Figuring out wildflowers and the names of towns is a big enough challenge for me. Anyway, I have this massive collection of photos to label. My basic idea is to do enough photos of a scenic area to give them a hint of the area's offerings. My aim is for about 8 to 20 images of each subject.

    Sunday, June 18, 2006

    Blogs and the Community

    The last two blog posts were simply to point out that I see complex trends that have caused people and businesses to withdraw from traditional cultural centers. I see this as indicative of a trend of people to withdraw from participation in their community at large.

    My experience in the technical field is that IT businesses are keen on defining their position in a global economy. People's initial investment in the Internet was aimed at accessing and defining a position in the global community. I know for a fact that many local artists built web sites to try and break into larger markets (as they had exhausted the demand for their work locally).

    With so many businesses seeing the internet as a way to escape the tyranny of the local market, it seemed to me that the internet has been shaping up as yet another force that tears apart the community.

    On the positive side of the ledger. I've noticed that personal home pages and blogs often have a reverse effect. Yes, there's a large number of blogs that simply pontificate about national politics. However, there are many more that talk about people's relations within the community. Some blogs like Weber County Forum are providing a great deal of insight into local politics. The suggess of the Utah Bloggers convention shows a very strong desire for even more community involvement from the blogging community.

    It seems to me that the open forum of the Internet is creating a new and authentic balance between individuals, the local community and global community. Local blogs tend to have an interesting balance between one's concern with the world at large and the local community.

    As local bloggers seek subjects for their posts, it is my hope that they focus more and more of their time examining they things that are immediately around them ... thus building a better understanding of the different things that build a successful community.

    The Burden of Community

    The last post (IT and Community) makes it sound like I believe that evil corporate America is conspiring to destroy the community.

    I see the relation between the community and the organizations and people in the community as extremely complex. Community, after all, is both a blessing and curse. Business is not simply a process of manufacturing material goods. It is a process of interfacing with the community. I do not know of a single successful company that seeks to isolated itself from the community. The very idea is absurd because business is primarily about defining one's position in the world.

    Since business is about one's relationship with the community. Businesses are guilty of spending a great deal of time trying to define and control their relation with the community.

    An IT company might participate less in the local community than the corner drug store because the IT company sees itself in a different community. They might see themselves as part of a virtual world community focusing on a particular technology or problem. Forcing a researcher, whose every fiber is focussed on curing cancer, to clean plates at the civid center is absurd.

    Businesses are sometimes at fault for Machiavellian games where they try to dominate a community. One can argue that the big box stores business model is an effort to dominate a community.

    Since the primary concern of a business is defining a position in the community, I discard the accusation that corporate American has a primary aim of tearing apart the local communities.

    While suburban office towers have the effect of isolating workers in a remote location. I do not believe that businesses are specifically sitting down trying to figure out how to worsen the quality of life experienced by the employers.

    No, the drive to suburban towers is not driven simply by a desire to isolate workers from the community. A better description is that companies are seeking greater control over their presence in a community. The company wants control over the way they appear to the world.

    Throughout my life, I have paid a fair amount of attention to the burdens placed on businesses. Since the 60s, our communities have systematically increased the burdens on stores and businesses operating in central cultural districts. The benefits of this increased burden gets distributed to the politically powerful in the community. This system of magnifying the burdens on small busineses is called progressive politics.

    It is not simply that companies are withdrawing from urban centers. Many urban areas like Salt Lake City aggressively increase the burdens on small firms in their communities ... driving them away.

    We look at the tendency of modern companies to shove their employees into office towers and other edifaces that are isolated from the community at large. It is clear that there are forces that are weakening the local community. I do not believe that we can find a single force to explain the trend. It seems to me that some communities like Rocky Anderson's Salt Lake City are hostile to small business, other areas like South Jordan are much more friendly to small business. Within a few years, South Jordan's population will equal Salt Lake. I don't think we can peg this trend entirely on the business.

    It is something that we should try to understand.

    IT and the Community

    One of my primary concerns in making Community Color is the relation between the internet and the local community. Even before the Internet, I had noticed the IT Industry developing a tendency to separate its workers from the community. Living in the Silicon Valley during the first stages of the tech boom, I noticed computer companies developing corporate and architectural styles to separate their work force from the community. Community is just a distraction from the 18 hour work days demanded in IT.

    The isolation of Silicon Valley workers contrasts to the hyper socialization that takes place in San Francisco just to the north.

    Altius BuildingIntentional efforts to isolate workers from the community reach extremes in the Salt Lake Valley. I worked for several years at an office tower in Draper. The office was three miles from the nearest restaurant or store. It was surrounded by parking lots and major roads. While the office was comfortable, the urban design of the area was set to simply isolate the people in the complex from community. Just before I went to the blogger's conference, I stopped and snapped a picture of the Altius building in South Jordan. It is just a big black building positioned so that workers have no destractions from the community around them. The workers will toil away, never seeing any of the other people building the community. Both Warren Jeffs and corporate American know that people become more pliable when you isolate them.

    There are similar facilities peppering the Salt Lake Valley. For some forgotten reason, I rode my bike out to the Lake Park Office facility in West Valley City. I could not find a road between the community and the office park. Workers at the Discover Card call center, IHC and other information related businesses were hermetically sealed from the community.

    The first stage of the tech boom seemed to be accelerating this mania of isolating people from their community. The corporate rush was to develop the big nationwide website that would dominate a sector of the market. The ideal internet firm was a windowless box in a sea of black top parking lots.

    While the isolated towers of the suburbs have grown, we've seen the population of urban centers like Salt Lake and Ogden shrink. The primary cause of this is the excessively restrictive zoning of Salt Lake. My heart breaks each year seeing the little independent stores in Salt Lake proper board up their windows as the population of the SLC proper shrinks, while the isolated expanses of the burbs grow.

    The reason I started making community directories and photographing towns was to understand the town. It is odd. I built a directory for Salt Lake City not because I had any special affinity for or knowledge about the area. I built the directory because I had spent some 30 odd years here feeling like a paria.

    Knowing for a fact that I would receive zero community support for the effort, the sites uses mass affiliation (the ultimate anonymous business relations) to fund the site.

    (This post is getting long so I will continue my rant in the next post)

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    Utah Bloggers Conference

    Utah Bloggers ConferenceLast night I attended the first every Utah Bloggers Conference hosted by This event featured free pizza, a t-shirt, an interesting panel and conversation. I generally avoid bringing my camera to meetings as I see bloggers with cameras one of the great annoyances of the modern. However, I figure that this, being an event about blogging, not only deserved a little photography, it demanded it.

    Bloggers PanelUnfortunately, I had the F-Stop set wrong, and only got a few decent shots. Flowers don't move around of their own volition, and make better subjects.

    Anyway, the meeting was organized by Ryan Money had a distinguished panel that included Cydni Tetro, Phil Burns, Phil Windley, Tim Stay, and Utah's next Senator Pete Ashdown.

    Meetings like this are great because it inspires people to run home and pen articles about the local community with links to all of the people that they met at the meeting. The links give voice to those people involved in the community. Super cool.

    Speaking of the local community, I just added a pile of entries to the Salt Lake blogs category. These entries pushed the site over the 5000 link mark!

    South Towne Exposition CenterAfter the blogger conference, the night was young and the light perfect, so I visited the South Towne Exposition Center and Jordan Commons for a little late night photography.

    After taking and processing the pictures, I discovered, to my dismay, that the FTP server at my web host was hosed. Ggggrrrr. Instead of getting the pictures up on the day of the conference, I had to wait a day to get the friggin FTP problem worked out.

    Sunday, June 11, 2006

    Philosophy of Mind

    Philosophy of Mind (Edward Feser, 2005) is an interesting introduction to the Philosophy of Mind and the influence that this subject has had on philosophy at large. Modern philosophers sought a completely material explanation for mankind and cast aside the Western tradition which saw mind as something separate from the brain. Feser's work provides an overview of the different methods used to attack the mind/brain problem.

    It seems to me that this mind/brain problem is one of the big gaps between modern and classical liberalism. Modern dialectical materialism held that science has a complete explanation for everything. The thing we think of as a mind is just an illusion caused by chemical processes. The classical world saw science as a useful tool, but not as a complete perfect system that describes everything. To the classical liberal, the edges will always be blurry.

    Feser's short sweet introduction to the Philosophy of Mind takes a road through the various attempts to create a complete material description of the mind. At the end of the work, the mind remains blurry hinting that perhaps the classical tradition was right after all.

    Friday, June 09, 2006

    Conservation Boom

    I've been reading about some of the insanity going on with the present energy boom going on in the Mountain West. For the most part, the increased price for energy and other resources is good western economies as it means that resource providers are getting a good price for their material they extract and their efforts. Unfortunately, the boom and bust cycles in resource extraction are creating unnecessary pollution and environmental conserns.

    A very minor spike in gas prices causes insanity.

    This cycle where we throw too many resources into production during the upswing of a boom magnifies the depths of the upcoming energy bust while leaving future generations with a heavy clean up bill. Now is when we need political leadership that cautions resource extraction to go slowly. Instead we seem to have political leadership that simply reacts to trends, but fails to lead.

    So many of the resources that we are rushing into the market today will not come online until the upcoming energy bust. The fact taht we rushed the development, means excessive pollution from the development.

    We do not need politicians to rush more resources on line at the moment. What the public needs at this moment is a conservation boom, not an energy boom.

    Wednesday, June 07, 2006

    Jordanelle Reservoir

    For my 6/6/6 (day of the beast) project, I decided to add labels to my images of Jordanelle Reservoir. The anti-Christ, you know, builds dams as part of his (or her) industrial military complex.

    I hope none of you were devoured on 6/6/6. If you were devoured by the beast, I hope you stick in its craw.

    Tuesday, June 06, 2006

    Send the FLDS to Boston

    I was reading all of the nasty hate filled blog posts being written by progressives in response to the Marriage Protection Amendment. The Marriage Protection Amendment is being portrayed as a hate filled piece of legislation. This legislation is on the table because Activist judges in Massachusetts are skirting have decided to skirt the democratic process by drafting social legislation from the court bench.

    Since we apparently are now living in a world where the democratic process is completely ignored by Activist Judges and we are reduced to a state of action/reaction, I was thinking that right should start playing by the same rules as the left. Rather than wasting energy trying to develop a framework where people can discuss the meaning of marriage (which is what the proposed Amendment was aiming to do), the right needs to manufacture events that cause action and reaction.

    Here is my plan: The State of Utah should use its $70 million surplus to buy up some land in Massachusetts suitable for an enclave. We should then eminent domain Hildale, Utah. IMHO, Social engineering is sufficient justification for eminent domain. We could then put all of the FLDS on a bus and ship them to their happy new enclave in the the Bay State. I am sure that Mitt Romney would love the company. Most important, the establishment of a large polygamous enclave in Massachusetts would answer the one question that has been puzzling me: Does the Activist Court decision on Same Sex Marriage automatically extend to polygamy and all other living arrangements that people can dream up?

    The best part of my plan is that we could then use Hildale as a state park. It looks like a really cool place with big cliffs and canyons to explore. Right now, when you stop in the area to take pictures, scary local people chase you away.