Same Sex Marriage and Information Technology

An odd combination for a blog topic, but not really.

In the world of IT the pendulum of control has found a logical resting place. For the majority of enterprises those services within the enterprise that are considered common are under the  management of a central IT department. Services like email, data center servers and storage, shared network, remote access, security, and local connectivity are examples of services that fall into that category.

Before the pervasive use of IT, each line of business was best served by doing their own thing and focusing on their own bottom line. As technology became pervasive and the enterprise recognized that information was foundational, the recognized the need to share and interconnect systems. Barriers were quickly seen in technical, process and financial areas and acceptance of common standards developed to resolve those differences and make information readily available so the lines of business could focus on generating revenue.

handshake

You see, most enterprise leadership recognizes that IT is too complex and having each line of business do their own thing is not only inefficient, it leads to high risk from a security and financial perspective. Consistent delivery of connectivity, server, storage and desktop services provide benefit to the enterprise. Even for applications that are specific to a business process, there are still basic guidelines that are followed – not using static IP addresses in code, as an example. It is all for the common good.

The millennium transition (remember Y2K?) and a need for constant security readiness have taught most enterprises that they need to accept and enforce the right level of common infrastructure and standards. Times have changed and business has adapted.

global IT

Now, think about our national infrastructure. What would it be like if Eisenhower and Congress had thought to let each state make it’s own highway decisions? We’d have varying gauges a roads and different numbers for the same streets. Yes, there is a lot of local influence and investment in the national highway system but the foundational structure and rules of operation are mandated by the central authority.

US interstate

The examples of “common good” mandates can go on for quite a while. In almost all cases there is a transition point where local authorities or lines of business are given control, but they have to play within the standards that promote the common good.

When it comes to the rights of individuals, the common good in the United States is synopsized by the first 10 amendments of our Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights.

It was primarily penned by James Madison and is one of the most eloquent and simple statements of human liberty ever made into law. My favorite of those amendments is the first one, which guarantees freedom of the press, speech and religion all in one simple sentence.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That is the entire amendment. It means that people have the freedom to practice religion in their own way without government interference. The counter is also true. The government can not force a religion onto its people (no law respecting an establishment…). This is a fundamental difference between what is civil action as expressed in law and what is moral action as expressed in individual religious belief.

Constitution and gavel

Kind of a simple construct. You may legislate civil actions but you may not legislate morality. Morality, expressed through religion, the press, and speech is an open forum, within the tolerances of civil action. Civil action is all about guardrails. Killing someone in a premeditated manner is murder and, as a society, we have decided that it is wrong. There are religions that concur with that fundamental, but it is not because of those religions that we hold it true that murder is wrong. As a society we have made that compact. Clearly, we do not agree on the consequences for murder, but we do agree that murder is wrong.

Marriage is both civil and social. We have wrapped legal fabric around an action that is a social construct so that there are basic rules that we follow in terms of licenses and dissolution. Even then, there are nuances in every state when it comes to how marriage is created or dissolved.

If the only reason for stating that gay marriage is not allowable is because of a religious cannon, then that is not defensible from a constitutional framework. The first amendment does not allow the government to make a law “respecting an establishment of religion.”

We the People

If your religion mandates that gay people can not marry, then do not allow that, but do not force your beliefs on the rest of the country. When it comes to the law of the land, you are totally allowed to follow your beliefs, but a) you must accept that other beliefs are just as valid under the law and b) you can’t ask the government to make your religious cannon into law.

I’ve tried to write a better ending to this post than the paragraph above, and anything I say beyond that seems trite or argumentative.

I often end my blogs with the wish that you run free. That, to me, is the purest expression of freedom. The freedom to move under the power of my own body and enjoy the world around me. Today I exhort you all to celebrate freedom. It can be difficult to hear what other people say, but at the end of the day, we should all be grateful that we have the freedom to say what we think.

Be Free

The Confidence of Women

“Here’s how I do that.”

The woman’s voice was well modulated, confident and upbeat. It totally eased past any defensive response I would have had to a woman stepping in at that time.+

Let me give you some context.

I was standing in my cubicle with a disemboweled 8086 grade personal computer on my desk. Yes, it was several years ago when RAM was measured in kilobytes, not gigabytes. It was the RAM on this machine that was the source of my consternation.  I needed to upgrade the memory by 256K. The new chip was in my hand, but I had no tool to remove the old memory chip.

Kim Komando to the rescue.  Yep.  The Kim Komando you know from the infomercials, radio shows and multimedia.  I worked with Kim for a short period of time at ATT.  She was an Account Executive and I was a Technical Consultant specializing in voice and data communications.

Kim knew PC’s and she had seen my struggle.  With grace and confidence, she showed me how to use the cap from a Pilot pen to extract the old chip. We joked a bit about the advanced toolset and then went on about our work.  Over the next year or so we worked together on a couple of accounts and then I changed jobs and lost touch.

Fast-forward a few years.  I was flipping through early morning TV looking for something to accompany me while I worked out.  And there she was.  Kim Komando talking about how to be at ease with personal computers.  She was exactly how I remembered her from that day in my cube – bright, upbeat, non-threatening to a male ego and knowing of her shit.

Kim had found her niche.  It was clear, in retrospect, just how much passion she had for PC technology and she had found a venue to share that passion with other people.  She still shares that passion and I will tell you if you need to understand anything about the digital beast under your fingertips, you can’t go wrong looking to Kim for help.

What got me thinking about Kim?   It was seeing another woman with similar characteristics who is starting to find her way to a niche in a man’s world.

In the same way that computers back in the days of 8086 machines were the domain of men, so is rock guitar today.  Just look at YouTube and you’ll see most guitar vids are of the male side of the species strutting their audio feathers.

I was in YouTube looking for a decent demo of a guitar effect I was thinking of buying.  That’s when I discovered Fuzz Box Girl.  Amidst all of the chest thumping, speed noodling, testosterone driven demos was this very different approach from a young woman.  Her guitar effect of choice is an organic device called a fuzz box that blends soul and technology into an outrageous sound.  For those not familiar, a fuzz box was used by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones when they recorded the main guitar for “Satisfaction”.

Look at one of FBG’s demos (FBG Blog)and you will see how she has used her unassuming personality and her understanding of her audience to create an identifiable brand.  The demos aren’t too long.  They focus on the equipment, not the flash of her playing, and they start you off with a light and funny intro while she pans the effect, her guitar and amp and a special cocktail to match the demo.  She understands that her target audience is primarily male, gregarious (they play loud rock guitar), interested in sex and very dedicated to their avocation.  These guys work hard at their craft, practicing for hours at a time, and have no patience for posers.  FBG is the real deal.  Not because she is the best player out there, but because her passion for what she is doing is clear and evident.  It shows because she, like Kim, has the confidence to just be herself while stepping onto a male playground.

When I started to follow FBG, I was taken by what she had in common with Kim.  They are two different people, but have both shown success in traditionally male markets.  Both of them also maintained their feminine quality while establishing themselves as experts.  They have gained loyal followings because they are doing what they are passionate about and they have respect for their audience.  Each understands that they are a brand that needs to be managed and nurtured.

I admit it.  I am attracted to women. Always have been. Looks might get my initial notice, but it is the depth and clarity of personality that keeps me attracted.  When I wrote my novel, SYN:FIN, I didn’t intend to have smart, competent women take play major roles, they just happened naturally because that is what I expect women to be.  The women who I hold close in my life are cut from that same cloth – smart, aware, confident, giving.  It doesn’t intimidate me to be around competent women.  If anything, I find it to be an absolute rush.  We men aren’t better or worse, just very different.  Sometimes, we let our egos get in the way of admiring competent women.  It must be a relic of the hunter gene.  If we can get passed that, then the differences are worth celebrating!

I am sure you have met women who strike you with their confidence and passion for their work or avocation.  I’d love to hear about them from you.  Add a comment or send me an email at jlg@jlgentry.com

Thanks for reading.

Links of interest:

SYN:FIN

Kim Komando

Fuzz Box Girl