Home Network

Tonight I am preoccupied with building a home network. I am having electrical work done to my house starting next week. As part of the work I am having some network cables installed.

One of the questions I have to answer is how I want these terminated. Should I have a patch panel installed? Should I just work around a switch? Where should all of these be located physically? Lots of questions to answer.

Along with these concerns I would like to make sure there is a strong wifi signal in my garage and to the furthest reaches of my yard. I also want to wire the backyard for sound, but I am unsure whether to create a separate audio system for the backyard or if I should integrate it into the data network I am having built.

Because I cannot think of anything else to write about at the moment, this is what you get. Please feel free to comment if you have advice or stories of your own about being in similar straits. Also, any complaints? I would love to hear them.

Getting Out of Bed is a Bad Idea

Most days during the week, getting out of bed seems like a bad idea. Sure, I will have to get out of bed at some point to go to the bathroom or because I am hungry, but that is a natural progression. I am talking about getting up for work in the morning. Getting out of bed to get ready to go someplace where you would rather not be.

I know there are folks who love their jobs and enjoy getting out of bed to go to work. I am not one of those folks. On a workday I have a tendency to put off getting out of bed as long as possible. There is, however, a problem with that tendency that goes by the name of Jasper. Jasper, it seems, has no problem with getting up at any time of the day or night. He is particularly good at getting up between 6:00 AM and 6:30 AM and sticking his nose on any exposed part of my flesh to let me know that it is time to let him, and Ginger, outside. On weekdays this also means breakfast for the dogs, and cats, turtle and the fishes. On weekends I sometimes get up to let the dogs out and quickly get back into bed. Sometimes I stay up. But staying up on weekends feels different than getting up on weekdays. Perhaps because I don’t have to immediately start getting ready for work. I can sit down and watch TV, or do some work in the yard, or on my computer. On weekends I have a choice. On weekdays I have a routine.

I once worked from 10:30 AM to 7:30 PM at an old job. I could wake up at 9:00 in the morning well rested even if I had been partying the night before. I had time to shower and watch an episode of divorce court while I got ready for work. I usually got to work early and had time to settle in before I started working. My lunch came after the typical lunch rush so I was free to eat wherever I wanted. Traffic was not as bad when I left for home. I ate around 8:00 PM. By 9:00 PM I was free to go out and party until one or two in the morning, go home, and still get enough sleep to easily start the cycle anew the next day.

My routine is set by the dictates of industrial age factory work. It is silly that work hours are set according to the dictates of an age long past and now obsolete. I am bound to a schedule that has me getting to work hours before I am fully awake. I have to eat quickly at crowded restaurant because the geniuses who oversee the work of the masses let everybody out to lunch at the same time. I am also fighting traffic to and from work. None of this makes any sense when you consider that I interface with nobody other than my coworkers throughout the day. My bosses say it is because they need coverage, of what I could not say. They stuck in habits that stopped making sense years ago.

IVAT 24th International Summit on Violence, Abuse & Trauma

This past Saturday (September 7, 2019) I attended the IVAT 24th International Summit on Violence, Abuse & Trauma Across the Lifespan in San Diego CA. According to the event overview, “This Summit is a unique forum for professionals across all disciplines and philosophies to gather for in-depth exchange of current information on all facets of violence, abuse and trauma prevention, intervention and research.” I attended this event because of my interest in and knowledge of conflict resolution. I thought some of the information I could gather here would be germane to my academic interests. I was correct, but not in the ways I thought beforehand.

Though the summit started on Wednesday, September 4, I attended only on Saturday. I had to work at my day job and lacking any prior experience with this event I did not want to risk my precious time-off to be disappointed. I attended three workshops.

The first workshop was the reason I decided to attend this summit to begin with. Using Film & Storytelling as a Community Engagement Tool for Prevention Efforts, presented by Meghna Bhat, was an overview of the uses of film, cinema, and Digital Story Telling (DST) within the context of community activism. Though the presentation was ostensibly about prevention efforts, the information provided seemed applicable to any community activities. I have been dabbling with video for the past year or two; this workshop gave me ideas that will help me further along on that journey.

The next workshop was a panel entitled Effects of Junk Science on Attitudes and Beliefs. The panel featured Kathleen Faller, Viola Vaughan-Eden, Charles Schudson, and Seth Goldstein. The moderator was L.C. Miccio-Fonseca. I was surprised that the discussion centered on abuse within the context of the courts; however, I suppose it makes perfect sense given the venue. There was a gravitation toward discussing parental alienation syndrome and how it has affected custody and abuse cases in the courts. There was quick discussion of front groups, e.g., the Heartland Institute. This discussion of front groups was interesting because members of the panel predicted the introduction of treatises (published works) from these ideologically driven organizations as evidence in future court cases. The lessons of this panel are to always review the methodologies behind anything you want to accept as truth/evidence and make sure you educate your audience to the realities behind the scenes of what you are presenting.

The final workshop was a twofer entitled VIOLENCE AND TRAUMA: THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND SUPPORT. The first presentation, by Christa Nettles, was Community Violence, Victimization & the Urban Community. Nettles described the conditions that create crime-ridden communities, making the point that many, if not all, of these conditions are outside the control of the residents of the community. She painted a picture of a despairing community that lacks the power to solve its problems (which is an excellent example for my own interests in structural violence and social capital).

The second presentation, Postvention After Mass Violence: Providing Trauma Informed Community Support, by Fiona Vajk & Anneka Busse was an overview of how a more privileged community (a college campus) can deal with the aftermath of a mass casualty event. Busse is a survivor of the shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas (1 October 2017). She provided insights into the communities of survivors that have coalesced from the mind-numbing litany of mass murder events in the United States. Busse also shared personal anecdotes about her coping mechanisms and the support she has received since that incident.

What struck me most about the final workshop I attended was the transition from the description of a helpless community unable to provide basic necessities for its residents beside the description of a privileged community that has the resources to provide basic necessities, as well as educate and support the survivors and bystanders, and others, of traumatic events. The first presentation described an existence that is traumatic. The second described an intrusion, however profound, into an otherwise contented existence. I felt like I experienced a kind of a cognitive whiplash. I am not sure how the two were connected except as an explanation of the extremes and disparities of care offered by the two types of communities.

I enjoyed this summit. I learned about some familiar things in ways that I have not considered before. I was intrigued that some of the presenters I spoke to were unaware of the concept of structural violence, even as they dealt with it regularly. All in all it was a good experience. I think I will probably attend future summits.

A Little Thought Experiment

I have some expertise in the field of negotiation, some training and experience. Sometimes as an exercise I like to think about negotiations from a different perspective. Something akin to Einstein’s thought experiments; though perhaps not as profound. One of my favorite thought experiments is thinking about how I might teach a dog to negotiate.

Dogs possess a few weaknesses as negotiators. Dogs are seemingly not strategic thinkers. They display their emotions openly. They react to a different set of stimuli than people. Dogs are much less complicated than people.

They are not hopeless, however. Dogs are excellent observers. They read us very well. I have two dogs and on watching them interact I suspect they are good at reading each other. I cannot be entirely sure of this, but they seem to know how to get on each other’s nerve as well as any pair of siblings. A couple of things I noted as a weaknesses a paragraph ago, that they display their emotions openly and that they are less complicated than people, could also be considered negotiating strengths; that is, if they are dealing with a trustworthy counterpart. I suspect that dogs dealing with each other would generally be trustworthy.

So how do you teach a dog to negotiate? They already do it to a certain extent. My dog Jasper is always running around. He is a whirlwind. However, if he thinks there might be a snack involved he sits perfectly; telegraphing that he is a good dog and deserves a treat.

Ginger, my other dog, generally shows no interest in treats. However, if she knows Jasper got a treat she will usually show up to make sure she gets a treat too. Ginger communicates that she does not want to be left out.

Thus, I know my dogs have negotiating styles. Jasper is direct and immediate; Ginger is indirect and usually shows up well after the negotiations with Jasper have started. Jasper gets more treats because of his directness. Sometime Ginger misses out because she is late to the table.

I have watched other dogs in action. I have watched dogs play tug of war with whatever toy of the moment is at hand, until one of them gets away with the toy and a chase ensues. The winning dog will attempt to keep the prize from the other. When the other dog loses interest in the game, the winning dog will drop the prize, and they both move on. The game will pick up a little later when a new toy is discovered or the old toy is rediscovered. Thus, they are playing a zero-sum game.

The first lesson I would try to convey to a dog is the difference between distributive bargaining and integrative bargaining; that is, the difference between zero-sum and win-win negotiations. The winner take all of a session of tug of war is a fine example of distributive bargaining in the context of dog negotiation.

This would lead into the second lesson: tail control. In a distributive bargaining situation a dog’s tail will give them away. They might start wagging their tail as soon as they received an offer they liked, giving their counterparts insight into their positions. In an integrative negotiation this would just be a signal that the negotiation is on the right track. In a distributive negotiation this could lead to the current offer being rescinded and replaced with a worse offer.

The hard part is teaching a dog the difference between a distributive and integrative situation. They are pretty straightforward creatures. When I figure this part out, I will update you all.

Book of the Week, Update

I finally finished my book of the week from last week (August 31-September 6). Last week curtailed many of my regular activities during the week. As a result, it took me a bit longer to finish this book.

The book in question is Design is Storytelling by Ellen Lupton. According to her bio Ms. Lupton is a senior curator at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City. So, the first thing I learned from this book is that there is a Smithsonian Design Museum.

I learned some other things as well. The book offers numerous lessons about design. The point of it, I think, is to craft your designs in a way that tells a story to your audience. Using examples in art, architecture, writing, psychology, among others; Lupton offer ideas about how to use storytelling as a device in any imaginable endeavor.

I decided to read this book (it is a more recent acquisition) now because I am currently interested in narrative and communications; specifically, constitutive communication as a framing device communication and narrative as a tool for effective communication. Since this blog is my main vehicle for communicating to the wider world I figure it does not hurt to have an understanding of design and communication theory. It is also a decent follow up to the ideas in Presentation Zen, which I read about a month ago.

These books about design and communication will lead somewhere. The blog is part of it, but I am working on bigger, more academic projects as well. Of course, my main interests: conflict resolution, social capital, structural violence, and other stuff will figure in as well.

My next book is going to be a much larger project than can be accomplished in 1 week. I will be reading various articles from The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice. This is because I am writing a short introduction to conflict resolution and I want to make sure my bases are covered. There will be more information about that project as it evolves.

Jane Austen Conquers the World

(This is a paper I wrote for a comparative literature class a little over seven years ago. I am posting it on my blog as an attempt to attract my mother as a reader of this blog. I have been telling her for years I would bring her a copy of this particular piece of writing and have failed to do so. I have done some very minor editing and added Amazon and article links to the works cited list, but this is 99% what I wrote all those years ago. Enjoy)

May 15, 2012

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has got to be one of the most widely known novels in the English language (I don’t really know for sure as I am a Public Administration major and have little time for fiction). I was aware of the general plot before I started this project and regarded the book as a classic; that is a book that many people talk about but never read. In fact, I didn’t realize how well I did know the book; in doing my research I unwittingly discovered that the novel seems to be the basis of a multitude of romantic comedy movies that I have, unfortunately and oftentimes against my will, been dragged to see over the years.

 

The basic plotline: girl meets boy whom she initially dislikes, girl discovers another boy who appears to be a much better match whom original disliked boy intensely hates, disliked boy manages to win the grudging respect of girl while simultaneously proving ostensibly better boy to be a cad, then confusion and miscommunication postpone the inevitable union of girl and originally disliked boy in the bliss of true love. This plot has been done in movies and television ad nauseum (I would assume this would apply to the theater as well, but again I do not know). I have seen it happen in real life, though never in circumstances as complicated as those presented in the novel or in a movie.

Unmentionable Invaders

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains” (Austen and Grahame-Smith 7). These are the opening words of Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, the “expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austin novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem,” (back cover).  I hardly think I need to remind anyone that these opening lines echo the better known, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” (Austen 1).

 I guess an obvious question to ask is why anyone would want to drop zombies into Pride and Prejudice in the first place. Zombies are big business in the United States these days.  Though no time frames are given, the value of Zombie related goods and services such as movies, video games, books, costumes, conventions, numerous others are estimated to be worth as much as $5.74 billion (Ogg). The value of these zombie related diversions is expected to grow in 2012 (Ibid.) Bosch posits that the interest in zombies is related to current economic conditions that are stoking white collar financial fears. She writes,

In The Walking Dead, the strongest survivors come from blue-collar backgrounds—cops, hunters, mechanics. Perhaps the weakest of the band is Andrea, a former civil rights attorney who can’t be trusted with a gun and who is overly indulgent in grieving her sister, a college student, who wasn’t alert enough while peeing in the woods and got bit for her neglectfulness. In the zombie apocalypse, your J.D. is worthless—which is actually not so different from the real world of recent years.

Further, zombies have no romantic possibilities. Bishop writes,

Unlike many other tales of terror and the supernatural, the classic zombie story – i.e., the apocalyptic invasion of out world by hordes of cannibalistic, contagious, and animated corpses –  has remarkably specific conventions that govern its plot and development. These generic protocols include not only the zombies themselves and the imminent threat of a violent death, but also a post-apocalyptic backdrop, the collapse of societal infrastructures, the resurgence of survivalist fantasies, and the fear of other surviving humans. (19)

Despite the association of zombies with the apocalyptic breakdown of society, in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies the gentility and manners never differ from the characters in Pride and Prejudice; the zombies prove to be merely another nuisance to be dealt with, one more twist. Society is not collapsing. For example, the ball where the characters Elizabeth and Darcy meet is attacked by zombies, “A few of the guests, who had the misfortune of being too near the windows, were seized and feasted on at once” (14). The party ends on the following note, “Apart from the attack, the evening altogether passed off pleasantly for the whole family” (16).  Though I suppose this could be considered ironic, over the course of the book this particular quirk gets boring.

While reading Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, I was reminded of a particular review I read of the 2001 film, “Le Pacte Des Loups.” Phipps wrote of that movie, “Sure to be the year’s best film to mix martial arts, 18th-century European costume drama, historical allegory, and horror…” Later he writes, “[the director] doesn’t so much erase the lines between his chosen genres as pretend they never existed.” In this book the martial arts are accorded respect on the same level as wealth or an aristocratic title. “The demonstration took place in Lady Catherine’s grand dojo, which she had paid to have carried from Kyoto, brick by brick, on the backs of peasants. The ninjas wore their traditional black clothing, masks, and tabbi boots.” Once ninjas were introduced I lost all interest in the story. Though I was reminded of the quotes about “Le Pacte Des Loups,” this book does not as successfully pull off its attempt to mix a very similarly disparate set of elements.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombiesis overwhelmingly inane. In piling on childish ideas and incongruent devices Grahame-Smith manages to turn a ridiculously intriguing idea into a craptacular failure. In contemplating this book I am reminded of what Gamal Abdel Nasser said about Americans, “The genius of you Americans is that you never make clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves which make the rest of us wonder at the possibility that we might be missing something.” What is more American than wretched excess?

No Life Without Wife

If you were to take Elizabeth Bennet and her family and friends a couple of hundred years into the future and transport them about 4,000 miles to Amritsar in Northwestern India (I believe a black hole might be useful in this endeavor), AND turn Elizabeth into a fiercely proud Indian woman, you might end up with a woman very much like Lallta Bakshi, the heroine of Bride and Prejudice, played by Ashwarya Rai.  The translation of Pride and Prejudiceinto a Bollywood movie is, thankfully, seemingly much easier than trying to drop zombies, martial arts, and ninjas into the story as it is much more successful a project than Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

As it turns out, Pride and Prejudice seems to have provided the plotline to many other Bollywood movies I have seen as well. I have personally been watching Bollywood movies for many years. When I was a teenager I occasionally caught glimpses of Indian movies on channel 18 or 22 while I was channel surfing. Invariably these movies contained an attractive brown skinned woman singing in a strange high-pitched voice in some weird foreign language. I didn’t know what they were, but they were interesting enough to watch for a few minutes, until I got tired of the singing.

I rediscovered Bollywood movies about eight or nine years ago on a Blockbuster night wherein there was nothing on the main shelves that was even mildly interesting that I hadn’t already seen. My wife found the film Kuch Naa Kaho (which coincidentally also starred Ashwarya Rai) and we took a chance. After we got past the initial reactions: why are they singing and dancing, and isn’t this thing over yet; we found that the movie was pretty entertaining. So we took a chance on another Indian movie, and it was also found to be entertaining. Then my wife developed a crush on Abishek Bachchan (who, also coincidentally, is now Mr. Ashwarya Rai) and the next thing I knew I was constantly watching Bollywood movies.

My wife and I were already deeply into our Bollywood phase when we first saw Bride and Prejudice in the theaters. My wife loved it. I was less convinced at the time, I didn’t like the music, and the concert appearance by Ashanti seemed like crass cross marketing. It has since grown on me, however.

Despite my initial misgivings, I did feel that the movie was a proper Americanization of a Bollywood film. I did not, at that time, have enough knowledge or understanding of Pride and Prejudice to judge it on its merits as an adaptation of the novel. Nor did I realize that the director was actually from London.

What I now find most interesting about this journey is that in covering those lengthy times and great distances and in the process of transforming from the Bennet family into the Bakshi family, they seem to have lost Catherine along the way. By the time they got to India it seems her loss was too great a trifle to mention because no one ever speaks of it. Nor does her loss do anything to slow down Lalita in her intercourse with William Darcy (who apparently lost his Fitz along the way on his journey). I am not knowledgeable enough about India to understand if there was a cultural reason for the dropping of a daughter.  Since there did not seem to be an entail at issue in the movie, the Bakshi family seemed independent and not too fearful of the death of its patriarch, I would have to ask are five daughters too many? Is four a better number to have? Or, was this an oversight? Perhaps it was just a shortcut the writers used. I do think it important to mention now that I know enough about the original material to have noticed this.

As for the crass commercialism I criticized to my wife, at length, as an American distortion of Bollywood, I am now forced to admit that Americans culture is indeed not the only culture prone to crass commercialism. I suppose it was not for nothing that Napoleon called England a nation of shopkeepers.

Also worth mentioning is how director Gurinder Chadha managed to turn the story away from issues of class and propriety and push it towards observations on ethnocentrism. At the wedding where Darcy and Lalita meet, Darcy’s demeanor is not taken for pride by Lalita, she reads it as disdain for India and its customs. When Lalita later finds out that Darcy is being pushed into marriage by his mother, she considers him hypocritical because he has attacked Indian arranged marriages.

This could be taken in a number of ways. Perhaps Chadha is slyly commenting on the hypocrisy of colonialism by Britain, and American neo-colonialism. I believe the use of an up and coming American R&B singer dropped into the film might bear that out. However, my Wikipedia research did show that it is a custom of Bollywood movies that a popular music star is dropped in incongruously to sing a song that may or may not have anything to do with the movie, which shows that the Indians can be found guilty of crass commercialism as well.

It could also mean that Chadha is highlighting the independence of the former colony. A demonstration that India, a part of the G-20, is a growing world power with a strong and growing economy as well as a vibrant culture. By implying the Bakshi family are landowners (there are several scenes showing Mr. Bakshi and Lalita directing farm workers),  Chadha is showing the family as strong and wealthy on its own. Alas, I am hindered in this analysis because Mrs. Bakshi seems not to be as cognizant of the earnings of the other characters as Mrs. Bennet is.

Regardless of Chadha’s geo-political motivations for making Bride and Prejudice, she does a good job of giving an overview of Bollywood conceits. Bride and Prejudice contains numerous songs sprinkled randomly throughout its length, many of which I found quite tedious (which is normal when I watch Bollywood movies, even my wife has a tendency to fast forward through the musical numbers). There is also extensive world travel to exotic (for Indians) locations. And the use of color is constant and overwhelming, like an acid trip.  Most amazing is that Chadha managed to tell the story in under two hours; especially when you consider that it took the BBC five hours to tell the tale and that Bollywood movies are often three hours long.

In Conclusion

People know this story, whether they realize it or not. Pride and Prejudiceis a classic because it resonates with so many different types of people. The story has been adapted, re-imagined, satirized, blasphemed, and expanded to fit the purposes of authors, screenwriters, playwrights, directors, storytellers, liars, geniuses, hacks, and many others. This versatility is what allows an American satirist (blasphemer?) to add zombies to the story at a time when economic events put zombies in the cultural zeitgeist of the American psyche. The same versatility allows a Nairobi born English director of Indian descent to transplant the story from the English countryside to the Northwest of India.

Pride and Prejudice is a timeless tale that is profound and touching enough to translate well into various cultures and contexts. Though I will very soon go back to my life, which allows little time for fiction, I am very glad I took the time to do this project. The next time I see that familiar plot, I will know whom to blame for my misery.

Works Cited

Austen, Jane. Pride And Prejudice. New York, NY: Bantam Dell, 2003.

Austen, Jane, and Seth Grahame-Smith. Pride And Prejudice And Zombies. Philadelphia, PA: Quirk Books, 2009.

Bishop, Kyle William. American Zombie Gothic: The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Walking Dead in Popular Culture. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co, 2010.

Bosch, Torie. “First, Eat All the Lawyers: Why the zombie boom is really about the economic fears of white-collar workers.” Slate.com October 25, 2011. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2011/10/zombies_the_the_zombie_boom_is_inspired_by_the_economy_.html

Bride and Prejudice. Dir. Gurinder Chadha. Perf. Aishwarya Rai and Martin Henderson. Pathé Pictures International, 2004.

Kuch Naa Kaho. Dir. Rohan Sippy. Perf. Aishwarya Rai, Abhishek Bachchan and Satish Shah.  R.S. Entertainment, 2003.

Le Pacte Des Loups (The Brotherhood Of The Wolf). Dir. Christophe Gans. Perf. Samuel Le Bihan, Mark Dacascos and Vincent Cassel. Canal+, 2001.

Ogg, Jon C. “Zombies worth over $5 billion to economy.” 24/7wallst.com October 31, 2011. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/zombies-economy-pump-5-million_n_1030569

Phipps, Keith. “The Brotherhood Of The Wolf.” Rev. of the movie “The Brotherhood Of The Wolf.” A.V.Club March 29, 2002. Retrieved from https://film.avclub.com/the-brotherhood-of-the-wolf-1798194786?%2Fsetsession

Pride and Prejudice. Dir. Joe Wright. Perf. Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen and Brenda Blethyn. Universal Pictures, 2005.