Polaroid has ceased all production of instant film. Somthing to do with having been taken over by an asshole who has no fucking clue about photography. That and being run for years by people who didn't have the teensiest bit of imagination that the Polaroid founder Edward Land had in abundance. Oh, well. Now a group wants to not only resume production of integral instant film, the type my SX-70 uses, but they want to resume production with an improved product. I wish them well.
Col. Pat Lang at Sic Semper Tyrannis introduced the following piece by Henry Siegman with: "Henry Siegman is a friend. His family fled from Europe to America. He is a rabbi. He was a chaplain in the US Army during and in the Korean War. He was a "freedom rider" in Mississippi in the 1960s. He has long sought a just peace for Israel and the Palestinians. That is not surprising for he is one of the just."
Western governments and most of the Western media have accepted a number of Israeli claims justifying the military assault on Gaza: that Hamas consistently violated the six-month truce that Israel observed and then refused to extend it; that Israel therefore had no choice but to destroy Hamas’s capacity to launch missiles into Israeli towns; that Hamas is a terrorist organisation, part of a global jihadi network; and that Israel has acted not only in its own defence but on behalf of an international struggle by Western democracies against this network.
I am not aware of a single major American newspaper, radio station or TV channel whose coverage of the assault on Gaza questions this version of events. Criticism of Israel’s actions, if any (and there has been none from the Bush administration), has focused instead on whether the IDF’s carnage is proportional to the threat it sought to counter, and whether it is taking adequate measures to prevent civilian casualties.
Middle East peacemaking has been smothered in deceptive euphemisms, so let me state bluntly that each of these claims is a lie. Israel, not Hamas, violated the truce: Hamas undertook to stop firing rockets into Israel; in return, Israel was to ease its throttlehold on Gaza. In fact, during the truce, it tightened it further. This was confirmed not only by every neutral international observer and NGO on the scene but by Brigadier General (Res.) Shmuel Zakai, a former commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division. In an interview in Ha’aretz on 22 December, he accused Israel’s government of having made a ‘central error’ during the tahdiyeh, the six-month period of relative truce, by failing ‘to take advantage of the calm to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians of the Strip . . . When you create a tahdiyeh, and the economic pressure on the Strip continues,’ General Zakai said, ‘it is obvious that Hamas will try to reach an improved tahdiyeh, and that their way to achieve this is resumed Qassam fire . . . You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they’re in, and expect that Hamas will just sit around and do nothing.’
During the summer of 1982 I had the opportunity to visit the Nazi concentration camp just outside Dachau, Germany and then the little town itself. Given the proximity of the town to the camp, my immediate reaction was: “This town is so close to the camp that the citizens of Dachau must have known what was going on out there. Why did they not do anything about it?” I had the exact same reaction during the last two weeks of May 1986 as I traveled up and down the West Bank and Gaza Strip in order to investigate Israel’s atrocities and war crimes against the Palestinians.
When I then complained about these reprehensible practices to the appropriate high-level legal officials sequentially at the Israeli Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I was told that they were all required by and could be justified under the doctrine of “military necessity.” Rather than engaging in an extended debate over this point, I simply responded to all three of these lawyers that this was precisely the argument used by the Nazi war criminals before the Nuremberg Tribunal in 1945 to justify their own incredible outrages upon humanity, including the Jewish people. After a bit more argumentation, these three lawyers basically conceded my Nuremberg analysis, but then each independently, uncannily, and matter-of-factly informed me: “We have public relations people in the United States who take care of these matters for us.”
The scale of Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip, and the almost daily reports of war crimes over the last three weeks, has drawn criticism from even longstanding friends and sympathisers. Despite the Israeli government's long-planned and comprehensive PR campaign, hundreds of dead children is a hard sell. As a former Israeli government press adviser put it, in a wonderful bit of unintentional irony, "When you have a Palestinian kid facing an Israeli tank, how do you explain that the tank is actually David and the kid is Goliath?"
Despite a mass of evidence that includes Israel's targets in Operation Cast Lead, public remarks by Israeli leaders over some time, and the ceasefire manoeuvring of this last weekend, much of the analysis offered by politicians or commentators has been disappointingly limited, and characterised by false assumptions, or misplaced emphases, about Israel's motivations.
First, to what this war on Gaza is not about: it's not about the rockets. During the truce last year, rocket fire from the Gaza Strip was reduced by 97%, with the few projectiles that were fired coming from non-Hamas groups opposed to the agreement. Despite this success in vastly improving the security of Israelis in the south, Israel did everything it could to undermine the calm, and provoke Hamas into a conflict. [...]
The third aim of Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip is to further "catastrophise" the territory, reducing the capacity for continued existence to the barest of minimums – perhaps to bring about "an end to the persistence of Gaza's ordinary people in wanting the chance of a peaceful and dignified life". One obvious benefit to Israel of pulverising "civilian Palestinian infrastructure" is that "people who lack collective institutions and are reduced to scrabbling for their very survival are easier to dominate".
Yet, there is more going on here. Israel seeks to turn the Gaza Strip into a depoliticised humanitarian crisis, always on the brink of catastrophe, always dependent; its population reduced to ration-receiving clients of international aid. Yitzhak Rabin famously wished that Gaza "would just sink into the sea", but perhaps the best Israel can do is to share the problem with the international community, possibly to the extent of troops on the ground.
Increasingly focusing on Egyptian responsibility is also part of this, whether in terms of arms smuggling, aid supplies, or for some, direct rule.
In all of this, the Gaza Strip has become a laboratory for future possible scenarios in the West Bank (where a process of "development-isation" and NGO-funded occupation is well established). All three of these Israeli aims – to delegitimise and sideline Hamas, to persuade Palestinians to give up their resistance and to shirk responsibility for a shattered Gaza Strip – require the deliberate commission of war crimes and gross human rights abuses. As time will tell, they are also doomed to fail.
Lest President Barack Obama's opportunistic silence when Israel began the Gaza offensive that killed more than 1,400 Palestinians (more than 400 of them children) be misinterpreted, his aides pointed reporters to comments made six months earlier in the Israeli town of Sderot. "If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that," Obama had said in reference to the missiles Hamas was firing from Gaza. "I would expect Israelis to do the same thing."
Residents of Gaza might have wondered what Obama would have done had he been unfortunate enough to be a resident of, say, Jabaliya refugee camp. What if, like the vast majority of Gazans, his grandfather had been driven from his home in what is now Israel, and barred by virtue of his ethnicity from ever returning? What if, like the majority of the residents of this refugee ghetto-by-the-sea, he had voted for Hamas, which had vowed to fight for his rights and was not corrupt like the Fatah strongmen with whom the Israelis and Americans liked to deal?
And what if, as a result of that vote, he had found himself under an economic siege, whose explicit purpose was to inflict deprivation in order to force him to reverse his democratic choice? What might a Gazan Obama have made of the statement, soon after that election, by Dov Weissglass, a top aide to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, that Israel's blockade would put him and his family "on [a] diet"?
"The Palestinians will get a lot thinner," Weissglass had chortled, "but [they] won't die."
Israeli society was always introverted but these days it reminds me more than ever of the Unionists in Northern Ireland in the late 1960s or the Lebanese Christians in the 1970s. Like Israel, both were communities with a highly developed siege mentality which led them always to see themselves as victims even when they were killing other people. There were no regrets or even knowledge of what they inflicted on others and therefore any retaliation by the other side appeared as unprovoked aggression inspired by unreasoning hate.
I've only used one color background, for my product photography, for a long time: Savage Studio Gray. It showed as not quite white and not really gray. I've finally added some new colors. I tried the Super Black which I liked. Now I've added Super White and Thunder Gray. This is a test to see how something looks with each backgound. I am particularly intersested in the Thunder Gray for portraits, my next test. Then I can start playing with spots of light and color. I have a Flickr set with larger images: Seamless background paper test.
Savage Super White seamless background paper
Savage Thunder Gray seamless background paper
Savage Super Black seamless background paper
The Canon Model V flash gun folded up. The Canon P rangefinder has a unique attachment. The flash pc sync socket is on the end of the top of the camera with kind of a bayonet mount around it. The Canon Model V slides over it and a ring locks it. Very solid and it angles the flash to the side and up. Flash bulbs may be obsolete but electronic flashes are mere wimps compared to the common 25b press bulb. The average on-camera flashes for point and shoots have a guide number of around 14. My Vivitar 285 is 110, I think. My Metz 45 CL1 is around 150. The guide number for this little blue bulb is around 200. I have a battery on the way. I'm looking forward to using it. I've used them on my Brownie Hawkey Flash Model. I love it when people start screaming "I can't see! I can't see!" followed by "What is that smell?"
Recently, a young Japanese woman brought in an old shiny camera to my office, a curious look on her face. It was her grandfather’s 1950s Konica IIA, a rangefinder. She said her grandmother had wanted her to have it, an old antique that her grandfather, who had passed away recently, had loved using.
The young woman told me that she had taken the Konica to a camera shop, where they had charged her 30,000 yen (about $270) to do a CLA on it. But the young employee at the counter who returned it to her told her he didn’t know how to load film into the camera or use it. I told her that the camera was not worth that much, being an obscure Japanese brand, and she paid more than what it was worth. I admired the 1950s styling, always a sucker for an old chrome rangefinder camera. I asked her if she wanted to sell it. ‘’Oh, no, it was my grandfather’s camera. I will never sell it,” she said. So, I looked up the camera instructions on the Internet, put some film in, and showed her how to set the aperture and shutter speed. Without a meter in it, I printed her out the “sunny F16” rule, and told her to go have fun with the camera. It’s what her grandfather would have wanted.
Then, another co-worker, a Japanese gentlemen who collects antique tin toys, brought in a Pentax S2 with the standard 55mm F2 lens, sold in the Japanese market, to show me. He asked me if I knew how it worked. When I looked at the viewfinder, I couldn’t see anything, even after checking to make sure all the lens caps were off. When I took off the lens, I noticed there was no prism! I took the camera to Ohba Camera, and they estimated it would cost about 10,000 yen to repair it. I told my friend at the office he should just toss the camera, that it had no value, and I knew he would never use it, even if he got it repaired. But he said he couldn’t do that, it was his father’s camera, and he had too many good memories of family pictures being taken with it.
Even though space is very limited in Japanese homes and apartments, most Japanese seem to pass their cameras down to the next generation. In the United States, looking at various local classifieds sites, Craigslist, Internet camera ads, eBay ads, I’m always struck by how many sellers say the camera was their father’s or grandfather’s camera. Since moving to Japan, I’ve myself benefited by my wife’s family passing down their cameras to me. We moved to Tokyo in 2001, and I became interested in photography. I had worked at many newspapers in the United States as a reporter, and then a bureau chief and editor. I had worked alongside many of the finest newspaper photographers, so I had never had the need to pick up a camera myself. In Japan, however, most journalists have to take their own photos, so it was a skill I needed to acquire.
My Grandfather gave me his Leica IIIc over 30 years ago. I treasure it. I remember his taking family pictures with it as a child. One of my children will eventually get it. I know it will be apreciated.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. that most Americans know is the man who said, "I have a dream" at a massive rally 250,000 strong in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963, while standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during a March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. That speech is about racial justice and ultimate reconciliation in the United States, and with the changes wrought in American law and practice by the Civil Rights movement, it is a speech that Americans can still feel hopeful about, even if we have not, as Dr. King would have said, "gotten there yet."
But there was another King, the critic of the whole history of European colonialism in the global South, who celebrated the independence movements that led to decolonization in the decades after World War II. The anti-imperial King is the exact opposite of the Neoconservatives who set US policy in the early twenty-first century. Barack Obama, who inherits King's Civil Rights legacy and is also burdened with the neo-imperialism of the W. era, has some crucial choices to make about whether he will heed the other King, or whether he will get roped into the previous administration's neocolonial project simply because it is the status quo from which he will begin his tenure as commander in chief. Cont'd (click below or on "comments")
The US so neglects its educational system that relatively few Americans are exposed to world history in school. Few of them know that roughly from 1757 to 1971 the great European powers systematically subjugated most of the peoples of the world. tiny Britain ruled gargantuan India, along with Burma (Myanmar), what is now Malaysia, Australia, some part of China, and large swaths of Africa (Egypt, Sudan, Gambia, Rhodesia/ Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, Ghana, etc., etc.) The colonial system was one of brutal exploitation of "natives" by Europeans, who derived economic, strategic and political benefits from this domination.
Dr. King frankly saw this imperial system as unadulterated evil. In his "The Birth of a New Nation," a sermon delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama on 7 April 1957, King, just back from Africa, lays out his vision of the liberation of the oppressed from the failing empires.
I use a Pentax *istDL for my digital work. It is a 6mp digital SLR. It's worked well for me but, now that I have a printer, the limitations of a 6mp are showing up. The maximum print size, without upressing is 10"x6.6". To print larger means more megapixels. I've been keeping an eye on the 12 to 14 megapixel cameras. The Pentax K20D has been in my sights but it's still around $1,000. But it would let me use my M42 prime lenses from my film Pentax SLR, which is a requirement. But now there is a very interesting new kid on the block.
It's the Panasonic Lumix G1. It looks like alot of other interchangeable lens digital SLRs but it's not an SLR. It's a new format called the Micro Four Thirds System. Olympus, with Panasonic, pioneered the Four Thirds System as a competitor to the APS-C sensors. It's a little smaller but has the improved image quality over the tiny sensors in most digital point and shoots. The APS-C sensors have a 1.5X and 1.6X crop factor while the Four Thirds have a 2X crop factor. It was supposed to result in smaller cameras but that never really happened and it hasn't been a real success. On to Plan B. Olympus has come up with Micro Four Thirds System. It uses the same sensor but eliminates the mirror box of the SLR.
This now makes it possible to make the camera much smaller.
This is fundamentally a new camera design. It's a Live View camera. The sensor is exposed for viewing and the viewfinder is not an optical viewfinder but an electronic one. Panasonic has used the technology from it's professional video cams for the viewfinder. It opens up some interesting possibilities beyond size.
It's a very capable camera with excellent imaging. The big complaint the reviews have is that there are only two lenses available for it. They are very good lenses and they have image stabilisation built in but not much choice. Not so. This is where this camera gets very interesting. Because of the very short flange distance, the distance from where the lens mounts to the sensor. It's possible, with the appropriate adapter, to mount just about any lens made. Several DSLRs have had some of this capability. You can mount Pentax film lenses on a Canon. But this camera can also mount rangefinder lenses and the rangefinder people are going crazy.
That is a 21mm Leica Thread Mount lens. You can get an LTM adapter as well as a Leica M mount adapter and now all the photographers with Leica glass have an affordable digital camera they can use there lenses on.
And there are adapters coming out for just about every 35mm SLR lens made such as for M42 lenses, which I have a lot of. And it's affordable. 12 to 14 megapixel DSLRs run from $1,000 to $3,000 and up. The G1 is listed at $800. Store prices run around $675 and there is an eBay dealer from Canada putting up a lot of G1s and they are going for around $500. (By the way, there is no customs duty on cameras coming in from Canada to the US.) Time to start saving up my pennies.
update:DPReview reviews the Panasonic G1. DPReview always has the most extensive reviews. They really like the camera but complain about only two lenses being available. Ha! They don't realize what a great platform it is for just about every 35mm prime ever made as well as a lot of non-35mm lenses. You can put more lenses on this camera than any other camera ever made.
I've been struggling with how to write this post for quite some time. It's the conversation you have to have with a friend where you have to say "it's nice that you're trying as hard as you can George. I even believe you are, but it doesn't matter. Because George, your best just isn't good enough."
Or, as Captain Jack Sparrow would put it, all that matters is what a man can do and what a man can't do.
Sometimes the world doesn't grade us on a curve. You need to jump a fence, and you can't. You need to climb a rock face, and you aren't good enough. You're running away from a bear, and you don't run fast enough. And now you're dead. You wanted to get into a good grad school, but you don't have the grades or test scores. You're in a fight, and the other guy wins, and you wind up on the ground and he puts the boots to you and you're crippled for life. You tried "your best", but you lost and you're going to pay the price for losing for the rest of your life. Maybe you lost because he fought dirty, and you'd rather take a chance of being crippled for life than kick someone in the balls. Maybe you lost because he trained harder than you, and you'd rather go have a drink with your friends.
Or maybe you needed to pay for health care, and you didn't have the money, and someone you loved died. And they died because you didn't have the money, and because your country didn't have universal health care. And maybe you always worked as hard as you could, and you campaigned for health care with all your heart. It doesn't matter, your child, your wife, your husband—they're still dead. Your best wasn't good enough.
Now this is where America is. This is the real world. The United States in aggregate has been living beyond its means for over 30 years now. You have been shipping the real economy overseas. Ordinary families have been going in debt. The government has been going in debt. You've been voting yourself lower taxes and not paying for infrastructure reinvestment, or education, or anything else that matters, really. You've been spending too much money on guns, not enough on butter. You've been pushing the bill off into the future.
done it, people come out of the woodwork and they tell me "that's not politically feasible." Or perhaps I suggest a 55 mile an hour speed limit "that's not feasible". Or spending significantly less on the military since half the world's military spending is a bit overboard. "That's not politically feasible." Or raising taxes, "that's not feasible". Or... but why go on, the list is endless.
Then Obama comes out with a Stimulus bill which simply will not do the job. It is not big enough. It is not well constructed enough. It has no vision. It won't work. This isn't really in question, even their own report(pdf), which has the thumb heavily on the scale, shows it won't work if you take the time to look at the job charts.
A lot of people think this is some academic debate that doesn't matter in the real word, like "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin". It's not, it's deadly practical. The US is in severe decline, it is past the point where any other country would have flamed out and had an economic collapse (Argentina collapsed with better numbers than the US has now, for example). Because of America's privileged position in the world, it's been able to stagger on.
Now folks can say "Ian those things aren't necessary, I think the following steps will fix it" and that's fine. Could be I'm wrong. Obviously I don't think so, or I wouldn't write what I write, but hey, plenty of people have been dead certain they were right, and dead wrong.
But what gets me is that so often what I hear is "that isn't politically feasible. We can't do that". Now, by can't they don't mean "those things are impossible" or "we don't have the means", what they really mean is "we won't do them, because they would be hard or they're outside our ideological comfort zone."
Fair enough. But if those things are necessary, and if you don't do them, then the consequence is going to be catastrophe. I don't mean disaster. New Orleans was a disaster, and it wasn't enough to wake America up. The current financial crisis was a disaster, and so far it's looking like it wasn't enough to convince people that real fundamental changes are needed.
IT IS NO accident that—just last week, as the Gaza attack raged—Israeli Arabs took to the streets, while a majority of Knesset parties, including Kadima, voted to strip the Arab parties of the right to participate in the upcoming elections (a right, most agree, the High Court will restore). For the growing discomfort of Israeli Jews with the country's Arab citizens, and vice versa, is very much reflected in Israel's fierce response in Gaza. The prosecution of this attack suggests, not just a fear of some next crisis, but of the chronic crisis; the presumed challenge to Israel always waiting around the bend, causing Israelis to prove—so they think—that they have overwhelming staying power.
What is the crime these Arab parties have committed? They insist on Israel being "a state of its citizens," not a "Jewish and democratic state." To foreign ears, this sounds like a distinction without a difference. Why not a democratic state, patently Jewish insofar as it is Hebrew-speaking, much like France is “French.” But since 1948, Israelis have allowed "Jewish state” to evolve in curious ways: most land is reserved for “Jewish settlement,” the state gives the orthodox rabbinate control over marriage and aspects of citizenship, the whole of Jerusalem is decreed a Jewish patrimony, and so forth. (I take this all up in The Hebrew Republic.)
While the Arab minority, 20% of the population, has been marginalized, Israel has spawned a kind of Judean settler state around Jerusalem and the West Bank, which Israelis are reluctant to confront for the sake of Palestinians. For most, the word democracy has come to mean, more than anything else, maintaining “a Jewish majority.”
And this Jewish state, Israelis know in a day-to-day kind of way, is something that they would reject if they were in the shoes of Israeli Arabs. Lurking behind this knowledge is the not unreasonable fear that any peace they make with the Palestinians will unravel as the rejection of Israel by its own Arab citizens unspools.
For all Islamists, the events in Gaza will be definitive: they will tell the story of a heroic stand in the name of justice against overwhelming odds. This archetype was already in place on the day of Ashura – which fell this year on 7 January — when Shi’ites everywhere commemorate the martyrdom of Hussein, the Prophet’s grandson, killed by an overwhelming military force at Kerbala. The speeches given by Hassan Nasrallah, Hizbullah’s secretary general, were avidly followed; the ceremony of Ashura drove home the message of martyrdom and sacrifice.
Islamists are likely to conclude from Gaza that Arab regimes backed by the US and some European states will go to any lengths in their struggle against Islamism. Many Sunni Muslims will turn to the salafi-jihadists, al-Qaida included, who warned Hamas and others about the kind of punishment being visited on them now. Mainstream movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Hizbullah will find it hard to resist the radical trend. The middle ground is eroding fast.
At one level Gaza will be seen as a repeat of Algeria. At another, it will speak to wider struggles in the Arab world, where elites favoured by the West soldier on with no real legitimacy, while the weight of support for change builds up. The overhang may persist for a while yet, but a small event could trip the avalanche.
Israelis and their American supporters claim that Israel learned its lessons well from the disastrous 2006 Lebanon war and has devised a winning strategy for the present war against Hamas. Of course, when a ceasefire comes, Israel will declare victory. Don’t believe it. Israel has foolishly started another war it cannot win.
The campaign in Gaza is said to have two objectives: 1) to put an end to the rockets and mortars that Palestinians have been firing into southern Israel since it withdrew from Gaza in August 2005; 2) to restore Israel’s deterrent, which was said to be diminished by the Lebanon fiasco, by Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, and by its inability to halt Iran’s nuclear program.
But these are not the real goals of Operation Cast Lead. The actual purpose is connected to Israel’s long-term vision of how it intends to live with millions of Palestinians in its midst. It is part of a broader strategic goal: the creation of a “Greater Israel.” Specifically, Israel’s leaders remain determined to control all of what used to be known as Mandate Palestine, which includes Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestinians would have limited autonomy in a handful of disconnected and economically crippled enclaves, one of which is Gaza. Israel would control the borders around them, movement between them, the air above and the water below them.
The key to achieving this is to inflict massive pain on the Palestinians so that they come to accept the fact that they are a defeated people and that Israel will be largely responsible for controlling their future. This strategy, which was first articulated by Ze’ev Jabotinsky in the 1920s and has heavily influenced Israeli policy since 1948, is commonly referred to as the “Iron Wall.”
What has been happening in Gaza is fully consistent with this strategy.