Red Room! Red Room!

Woah. Check out this photo gallery on Seattle’s new public library (link courtesy Jordan Cooper). Upon careful reflection, I’d have to call this a brash, bold and somewhat beautiful building but, c’mon, can anybody learn anything in there while surrounded by that avant-garde architecture?

I happen to think that the decision to paint the public meeting rooms in blood red is inviting trouble…

Movable Type Asks…

Mena Trott of Six Apart asks:

If free isn’t an issue for you and you’re willing to pay for a version of Movable Type (say the $69 version) and the blog/author limits won’t work for your current use, write a non-emotional post explaining how you’re using Movable Type and TrackBack this entry.

Fair enough

Movable Type is primarily being used as an online writing journal for myself and Erin. This program saves us considerable time in updating and archiving our sites, and so it has left us considerable time just to sit down and write. Would I be willing to pay for this? Well, I already have. I’ve donated something like $40 to Movable Type, and I consider that to be money well spent.

Recently, however, I’ve come to understand just how powerful Movable Type is as a content management program. I have set up a handful of blogs for friends under this installation but, more than that, I’ve used Movable Type to manage static websites. The program is more than flexible enough for just this sort of application. Through the use of templates and MT’s file naming protocols, it’s easy to set up a single site with a unified look and feel.

Check out Spiritbookword, or my sister-in-law’s page or Of these, only Spiritbookword is nominally a blog, but all of these sites are controlled from the Movable Type interface. If I want to make corrections or additions, I can do it anywhere — be it at my computer at home, or at a public computer here at the University of Waterloo’s Dana Porter Library or even on location in Halifax. Movable Type has freed me of the tyranny of FTP. That’s good value.

This is mostly true for all blogging software, but MovableType’s flexibility in setting up its archive structure, the fact that its templates are no harder to code than straight HTML, the categories, the ability to use categories to set up file structure, all make me believe that I will be sticking with this program rather than switching to Wordpress in order to manage my websites.

I am perfectly willing to pay for the software again, but I think the price should not be substantially more than $40 US. $50 US would be my top line. I also believe that Movable Type should be careful about its commercial license applications. Right now, the program has the potential of being the software of choice for non-profit agencies setting up their own web pages. I already know of a couple of places here in Waterloo where Movable Type is the primary content manager. Thus this program is doing considerable good for the poorest among us, and it would be wise (not to mention good publicity) to not take that away.

Tinpot Dictators in New Mexico

In the fiery debates around American foreign policy, some on the left side of the spectrum have claimed that there is an attempt by the Bush Administration to stifle dissent. There have been charges of McCarthyism flying around. Moderates and Republicans have tended to pooh-pooh these charges as hyperbole, but then something like this happens (from the Daytona Beach News-Journal:

Hard lessons from poetry class: Speech is free unless it’s critical

Last update: 15 May 2004

Bill Nevins, a New Mexico high school teacher and personal friend, was fired last year and classes in poetry and the poetry club at Rio Rancho High School were permanently terminated. It had nothing to do with obscenity, but it had everything to do with extremist politics.

The “Slam Team” was a group of teenage poets who asked Nevins to serve as faculty adviser to their club. The teens, mostly shy youngsters, were taught to read their poetry aloud and before audiences. Rio Rancho High School gave the Slam Team access to the school’s closed-circuit television once a week and the poets thrived.

In March 2003, a teenage girl named Courtney presented one of her poems before an audience at Barnes & Noble bookstore in Albuquerque, then read the poem live on the school’s closed-circuit television channel.

A school military liaison and the high school principal accused the girl of being “un-American” because she criticized the war in Iraq and the Bush administration’s failure to give substance to its “No child left behind” education policy.

The girl’s mother, also a teacher, was ordered by the principal to destroy the child’s poetry. The mother refused and may lose her job.


It’s the last paragraph that I find most disturbing. It’s not enough that the girl should be rebutted, or criticized on stage. It’s not enough that her poetry should be pulled from the school. No. Instead, the principal believes so little in freedom of speech in America that he believes himself to have the authority to order the mother of the child to have the poetry destroyed.

Now, the Bush Administration has had nothing to do with this incident in New Mexico, but the fact remains that the staunchest of Bush’s supporters, the Rush Limbaughs and the Ann Coulters, would see nothing wrong in the actions of the principal to attack free speech in such a boorish fashion. The Rush Limbaughs and the Ann Coulters have made a critical, and troubling leap in logic: that to criticize American foreign policy, or even just to disagree with them and say so publically, is more than wrong, it’s treachery.

This sort of attitude makes a mockery of democracy. And it lends weight to the suggestion that those critics of American foreign policy have some perspective while their opponents, as seen above, have lost it.

The Bush Administration needs to distance itself sharply from the Rush Limbaughs and the Ann Coulters, and harshly criticize the principal for not living up to the principles of the Land of the Free. If he fails to do so; if opponents fail to see merit in the individuals they oppose, America loses a little more of the stuff that makes it worth fighting for.

Thanks to Greg for the link. Thanks also to POGGE who wrote up an article on the same subject quite independently and posted it just as I was posting this.

Further Reading

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