A still life is a work of art depicting mostly inanimate subject matter, typically commonplace objects—which may be either natural (food, flowers, plants, rocks, or shells) or man-made (drinking glasses, books, vases, jewelry, coins, pipes, and so on). With origins in the Middle Ages and Ancient Greek/Roman art, still life paintings give the artist more leeway in the arrangement of design elements within a composition than do paintings of other types of subjects such as landscape or portraiture. Still life paintings, particularly before 1700, often contained religious and allegorical symbolism relating to the objects depicted. Some modern still life breaks the two-dimensional barrier and employs three-dimensional mixed media, and uses found objects, photography, computer graphics, as well as video and sound.
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Peter Heller is the best-selling author of The Dog Stars. He holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in both fiction and poetry. An award-winning adventure writer and a longtime contributor to NPR, Heller is a contributing editor at Outside magazine, Men’s Journal, and National Geographic Adventure, and a regular contributor to Bloomberg Businessweek. He is also the author of several nonfiction books, including Kook, The Whale Warriors, and Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet’s Tsangpo River. He lives in Denver, Colorado.
In a previous article, we discussed how to use the strategy pattern to dynamically change an object’s behavior at runtime. Classically, polymorphism in object-oriented design is static and achieved through inheritance; however, with the strategy pattern you can accomplish the same goal dynamically. Indeed, this is an excellent way to handle situations when you need an object to exhibit different behavior at different times. However, it’s worth noting that the strategy pattern requires mutation of the object you’re working with. By using the strategy pattern, you are necessarily changing the algorithm that an object uses for a given behavior. In some situations, it may be preferable not to mutate a given object. Or more likely, you won’t even have the option of mutating an object because it may come from a codebase over which you have no control (such as an external library). Such cases are relatively common; however, it’s still possible to enhance an immutable object’s behavior. One effective means to do so is with the decorator pattern.
Syntactic constraints. Python is a syntactically simple language with fairly strong constraints on what can and can't be done without "messing things up" (both visually and with regards to the language parser). There's no obvious way to structure this information so that people new to the concept will think, "Oh yeah, I know what you're doing." The best that seems possible is to keep new users from creating a wildly incorrect mental model of what the syntax means.
A veduta is a highly detailed, usually large-scale painting of a cityscape or some other vista. This genre of landscape originated in Flanders, where artists such as Paul Bril painted vedute as early as the 16th century. As the itinerary of the Grand Tour became somewhat standardized, vedute of familiar scenes like the Roman Forum or the Grand Canal recalled early ventures to the Continent for aristocratic Englishmen. In the later 19th century, more personal impressions of cityscapes replaced the desire for topographical accuracy, which was satisfied instead by painted panoramas.
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This code works for our purposes but it’s not exactly dynamic. If we wanted our initial simpleMsg object to sometimes act excited and sometimes quizzical, we could only do so by instantiating entirely new objects from the relevant subclass. Moreover, the ExcitedAndQuizzicalMessage is really just a combination of ExcitedMessage and QuizzicalMessage and probably shouldn’t have its own class. To fix these problems, let’s now return to the decorator pattern and see how it might help us.
After having shot a man in a Santa Fe bar, the famous artist Jim Stegner served his time and has since struggled to manage the dark impulses that sometimes overtake him. Now he lives a quiet life. . . until the day that he comes across a hunting guide beating a small horse, and a brutal act of new violence rips his quiet life right open. Pursued by men dead set on retribution, Jim is left with no choice but to return to New Mexico and the high-profile life he left behind, where he’ll reckon with past deeds and the dark shadows in his own heart.
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