Saturday, June 07, 2008

Mechanical Rings

Steampunk Jewelry: EDM Designs - Trend Hunter

It's not uncommon to find mechanical watches that have an authentic steampunk look to them. Even contemporary mechanical watches maintain that look. I've seen hundreds of pocket and wrist watch movements and everything from the jewels used to hold certain parts in place to the machined main plates and coils simply scream steampunk. But I hadn't taken the idea further to think of using a mechanical movement itself as a piece of jewelry. While I can't say I'm all that keen on the shank design (personally I would have gone with a simple open filigreed upper shank with a circular machining for the bottom of the shank) I do love the idea. The greatest challenge to crafting a piece like this (well, one of them) is creating a curved base under the movement to maintain the circular shape of the ring. The other is soldering the damn thing together. Watch movements don't take kindly to heat. Beyond the problems of flame discoloration, there's the metallurgical problem of silver being a poor conductor of heat and needing a high temperature flame (something in the range of 1700 degree Fahrenheit, which, by the way, is a hundred degrees short of the temperature crematoriums use to burn human remains). Personally, I'd like to see a ladies watch movement set in 14k rose gold. The typical shape of a woman's watch movement from the 20s and 30s is a rectangle. I think it could work as a light, but unique ring.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Reformation of Health - 95 Candidates

Daschle for Secretary of Health and Human Services? - Ezra Klein

This is probably the first in what will become a deluge of blogger/pundit recommendations for cabinet positions in an Obama administration. It's a little early I think--the man hasn't even had a chance to pick a VP yet--but since bloggers and pundits need not worry that much about their accuracy I'm not terribly bothered by it. Klein makes a good case for former senator Tom Daschle as HHS Secretary and also, in a way, makes a point toward Sen. Obama's potential as a president. While lacking in executive experience, Sen. Obama's legislative experience and the friends he's made in that time will come to great use in pushing his agenda. Knowing how the legislative branch work intimately is a key feature of Sen. Obama, in my opinion. Instead of needing to curry favor with the Senate, a President Obama would only need to pick up the phone and place the right call. It's also why keeping people such as Sen. Clinton where they are as they will prove helpful to a President Obama when he needs them. But, as I said, this is only the beginning of the wave of personnel recommendations we will see in the coming months.

The Thin Skies Bring New Dreams

Up Here, We Breathe What We Can - Zoetica @ Biorequiem

I really am loving Zoetica's current art series. It has this great fantasy/cyberpunk aesthetic that reminds me of two artists comic writer Brian Wood uses: Kristian Donaldson and Rob G. It really is excellent work so take a look at the rest of her site.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Absolute Cold=Absolute Hot

Absolute Hot - Peter Tyson @ NOVA

I've been meaning to mention this article on one of the weirder aspects of physics. Questioning what the hottest temperature is is the same as asking what the conditions were like at the first moment of the Big Bang. In other words, the hottest temperature is the highest temperature the laws of physics still apply in. Beyond that temperature, just as beyond absolute zero, strange things start happening and by strange things I mean things that physics can't explain. What makes the question even more interesting is the possibility that absolute zero and absolute hot are the same thing wrapping in on itself. If that doesn't get your brain sparking then you need a high-speed impact to your head.

Startling, Diverting Things!

You Ain't Trying To Be A Captain - Spencer Ackerman

I have to confess that Scott Summers, Cyclops of the X-Men, was never one of my favorite characters. Particularly since the Chris Claremont era, Cyclops has often been portray as an impotent and ineffective leader. Grant Morrison and Joss Whedon have definitely changed that. Starting with issue #114 of X-Men (retitled New X-Men at Morrison's insistence) Summers has finally come into his own as a leader of great tactical and strategic thought but with a seriously complicated internal struggle. Morrison wrote Summers as a man who tries as hard as he can to move beyond those struggles but finds that ignoring them cost him in the long term. The final story arc of Morrison's epic forty issue run involves Summers accepting the death of his wife and the love of his former enemy Emma Frost.
Whedon continues Summer's growth as a leader attempting to maintain his independence. Ackerman argues that Summers has always relied on someone else like Professor Xavier to validate his decisions. Whedon plays with this idea through Cyclops' relationship with Emma Frost and the tension Frost's presence brings. Kitty Pryde, character favorite of Whedon's, constantly questions whether Cyclops is making decisions on his own or if Emma Frost is controlling him. It's a great counterpoint to Ackerman's accusation that Cyclops in an ineffective leader. It's not that he himself is ineffective but has simply been written that way because no writer has had the balls to do anything different. The one-two punch of Morrison's New X-Men and Whedon's Astonishing X-Men has finally brought out the leader in Scott Summers. I can only wait to see what Warren Ellis will do with Cyclops once his Astonishing X-Men: Second Stage begins this July.

Bargaining Chips

Oh, wait, I remember why hardcore supporters of anything bother me--the dogmatic "my way or the highway" stance and the air of superiority it brings. Hence my problems with the feminist supporters of Sen. Clinton. And I never thought I would hear something like this from Hilary Rosen:

I will enthusiastically support Barack Obama's campaign. Because I am not a bargaining chip. I am a Democrat.

Stop Being So Goddam Precious

"Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You..." - John Rogers @ Kung Fu Monkey

At the end of last week I wrote a confused rant of a post on the sexism versus racism issues flying about in the Democratic nomination. It was written out of anger and doesn't represent my rational thinking. But taking the post down seemed cowardly to me. I don't stand behind the vitriol of those thoughts but I'm willing to take the flak for writing them. They are my words and no amount of rejection can change that. Even so, I continued to think about the issue, quietly crafting an addendum built out of reasoned and logical thought. And goddamn if John Rogers didn't beat me to the punch.
The entire post hits on every single point I wanted to make and does so in a clear fashion--from the generational issues to the craziness of hardcore supporters on either side to the mainstream media's treatment of Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama's continued refusal to play into the mainstream media's hands. Moreover, Rogers goes beyond my original thoughts to talk about the egoism of Americans and how that egoism has nothing to do with race, gender or age. He pointedly takes Sen. Clinton to task for being "the weirdly Republican-lite, crazy rules-changing, stereotype-reinforcing panderer." And Rogers doesn't even entirely blame Sen. Clinton but the mindworm that transformed her from a serious leftist contender to a rightist dead-ender.
What Rogers is getting at is the failure of Sen. Clinton's campaign has far less to do with gender than it does with the way in which the campaign was run. Rogers argues that the most damaging aspect of the Clinton campaign was its effort to make Sen. Clinton's personal trials and tribulations every woman's trials and tribulations.
By tying herself to the feminist movement so closely, Sen. Clinton turned a generation of young women away from such feminism while telling the older generations of women that her loss was their loss. Had things been the other way around and Sen. Obama lost I'm sure legions of black pundits and supporters would make the same argument. Instead, it seems to me that Rogers is saying while either candidate's victory would be transformational, neither candidate's loss was a loss for their movements. Feminism will continue as it has with the advent of third-wave feminism. Sen. Clinton's loss of the nomination does not change that no matter how much the feminists allied with her claim otherwise.
Rogers ends his post with one of President Kennedy's more famous quotes about what you can do for this country. He calls on the same kind of sacrafice President Kennedy did by asking us "that the least we can do, for our country, is to stop being so goddam precious." He asks, simply, that we not believe that we, individually, are a part of some grand historical narrative. He asks that we make a sacrafice of our egos and agendas so real progress can happen. The final part of Rogers' post sums the issue up nicely: "We are small, our time is limited, people are shitty, death claims us all. The only lasting marks we leave in this world are the results of our actions, not our internal monologues." Rogers words are something to always remember when we are about to launch our latest salvos against politicans we don't entirely agree with. We will not live forever, but our actions and our words will.

The Cloud Hunters

A Most Thorough Cloud Inspector - Zoetica @ Biorequiem

At first I believed her to be a matron of cloud operas, but I was corrected. She is, as the title states, an inspector of clouds brought from the farthest reaches by skilled Cloud Hunters. I can only imagine the clothing she might create from such fine materials.