Silo Point complex looking across the Harbour from Fells Point.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Fans of The Wire, a monumental series on HBO that depicts life in the  inner city of Baltimore, Maryland as seen through the eyes of the police department and the residents of particular neighborhoods, will remember Season 2 as having property development in the Inner Harbour and the conflict that arose between competing interests as a central theme.  From a sociological standpoint, and The Wire provides ample material for the study of sociological concepts, this story depicts the struggle for control over scarce resources, which is a fundamental premise of Conflict Theory.  (As an aside, most of the entire series of The Wire is about the struggle for the control of scarce resources.) Some members of the longshoreman’s union wanted the pier associated with the Locust Point Grain Terminal silos to be rebuilt and expressed concern that otherwise the site would be developed resulting in a loss of work, and economic opportunity, for their members.  That plan presented a conflict with developers, who saw the economic opportunity as residing in the creation of a high-end condominium complex.  Politicians and local drug dealers saw still other opportunities-it is a complex and compelling storyline.  The above photograph is a present-day view of the property, now known as Silo Point.

By watching Season 2, one can see what the property looked like in the past-some photographs are also contained in the links that follow.  In 2004, The Baltimore Sun provided a concise history of the grain elevator and that can be read here.  The National Building Museum (2007-2008) addressed the historical importance of the structure and an architectural view of the project, which can be read here. Turner Development’s site, circa 2009, is here and it emphasized a particular quality of life as being provided by the new construction.

When thinking about “scarce resources” and sociology, the main three are wealth (the ownership and/or control over money and property), power (the ability to get people to do what you want them to do, especially if they do not want to), and prestige (the social esteem given to certain positions).  “Quality of life” issues are also often based on access to these three resources.  Conflict Theory posits that those who have wealth and/or power and/or prestige, want to keep and/or increase their resources; often through the exploitation of those without.  For those being exploited, the goal is to gain access to the three resources and, therefore, gain a higher position in society.  The area now known as Silo Point, as depicted in the series, certainly represented the opportunity for wealth, power, and prestige as well as the efforts of the various groups to exercise their will.

One can argue that it does so in real life as well.

Take care.

Peace(ful)

August 20, 2014

Docked boats at sunrise.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The last post was full of nastiness, and that was without mentioning Ebola or Ferguson, Missouri.

Docked boats and green heron

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Right now the news appears to present more and more of the same.  As a result, it is evermore important to find the peace and beauty that does exist.  Fortunately, sometimes it is right at home, in the backyard, or around the corner.  One just has to look and be open.

Take care.

As an important postscript, condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of James Foley.  This report from NPR contains a quote from Diane Foley, James’ mother and it is especially poignant.   This story is a testament to the barbarity that does exist in this world and is visited upon so many people, be it an individual like Mr. Foley, or a group like the Yazidi.

 

Cool Morning

August 18, 2014

Domino Sugar factory 0749

The past few days have begun with early morning temperatures in the 50s, clear skies, and remarkably low humidity.  That it is the middle of August and these are the conditions is a bit unusual given what the past few summers have been like.

All is not well elsewhere, though.  Last week north of here, the town of Islip in New York received 13″ of rain.  Way west of here in California, residents in some areas are being paid to remove their lawns and thus conserve water in that drought-stricken state.  Between those coastal extremes, some farmers in North Dakota are making changes to their crops due to the impact of a changing climate-increased humidity being one of the factors.  And on the other side of the planet, torrential rains have caused flooding and mudslides in Nepal, both of which have led to the deaths of just shy of 100 people with more than an additional 100 people still missing.

Back in the United States, the Obama Administration has recognized the role climate change plays in wildfires.  John Holdren, President Obama’s science advisor, explains this relationship here.  Dr. Holdren points out three main climate-generated factors contributing to wildfires:  increased temperatures, decreased soil moisture, and increasing numbers of dead trees killed by heat stress and pest/pathogen infestation.  The personal, environmental, and economic impact of  “longer and more intense” fire seasons are also described.  Please give this a look.

Flooding, fire, and finally, famine.   Last year, the United Nations issued a report detailing the impact of the 2010-2012 famine in Somalia.  Drought was a major factor.  In highly industrialized, high-income nations, crop failures, floods, and property loss can be offset by governmental aid and/or insurance-providing it is available and accessible.  Even in wealthy countries, the issues of poverty and political indifference can prove to be insurmountable.  For example, it is worth noting that in post-Katrina New Orleans, many who had insurance were denied their claims as the insurance companies determined that the property loss was due to flooding from breached levees and failed sea walls, not the wind/rain damage from the hurricane.  When individuals then attempted to sue the federal government they ran into a law preventing the suing of the government for failed infrastructure.  After several years and many court battles, some homeowners did receive some relief.  In many least industrialized, low-income countries, such programs do not exist.  OXFAM identified three critical factors leading to famine and three critical responses necessary to mitigate famine, as presented here.  South Sudan is rapidly approaching a famine now.  Insufficient and/or inaccessible resources exact a terrible toll on people and is a fundamental problem facing a world with an increasingly harsh climate.  (It must also be said that Somalia and South Sudan’s climate issues have been magnified by war and overall governmental instability.  Swapping the position of the two conditions in the previous sentence will lead to the same result.)

As has been said before, weather is local-climate is global.  Locally, this window of cooler/drier temperatures is beginning to close as both the heat and humidity are due to ramp up over the next few days.  The possibility of storms have been forecast for the remainder of the week as well.  It has been quite pleasant as August and September days are usually dominated by the 3 Hs:  hazy, hot, and humid conditions.  Globally, that pattern represents more the norm than the exception.

It is best to enjoy this pattern while it lasts as these days are numbered.

Take care.

The Flow

August 13, 2014

BW photograph of Morgan Run after a heavy rain.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

“Going with the flow” is an old saying suggesting that relaxing and moving with, instead of against, a force creates a calmer atmosphere and more peaceful existence.

Given all that is happening around the globe, this could be pretty useful advice.  Of course, the opposite could be true as well.  In some parts of the world, Syria, Iraq, Israel/Gaza, and South Sudan, for example, going with the current flow would bring about more chaos.  The day before yesterday, Robin Williams apparently took his own life and therefore appears to have ended whatever struggles with which he was dealing.  Earlier this year, Philip Seymour Hoffman overdosed and died after a period of absence from drug use.  Mr. Williams and Mr. Hoffman left behind very impressive bodies of work and both often played characters that perhaps gave some peek into their own inner psyches.  The depth and power of their performances must have had some anchor within.  Yes, sometimes going with the flow can lead to a continued descent down the rabbit hole.  (The latter part of that sentence often has a negative connotation and is referencing a rapidly worsening situation.  It traces back to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.)

This morning at Morgan Run, which is where the above photograph was made, going with the flow was a very different experience.  The sun was rising, the fog burning off, and a clarity to the day was at hand.  The roar of the rushing water was smoothed by a shutter speed that remained open and allowed for a quieting of the noise and drama-it simply went past the camera.  Knowing how shutter speeds interact with motion stilled my internal chatter and let me settle into the scene-I no longer heard the water as it truly did just flow on by.

It was a nice morning to be out and about.

Take care.

 

Take a Seat…

August 6, 2014

BW photograph of a rusty chair.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

 

BW photograph of a broken white chair amid trash in city alley.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

or perhaps not.

Take care.