give us this day our daily photograph
My backyard vine maple
gordy's image archive index
This was my entry in Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. In addition to being taken on the last Sunday in April it was also taken as part of Simultaneous Pinhole Project: 30 April 2006: 7pm GMT at f295.
Well, that's the end of the links that I started posting a week ago. Of course new links have presented themselves since then but they will have to wait until I get caught up on work that paying customers are expecting me to do. I'll be back.
big brother is watching
You would think that people would learn. We went through all of this over 30 years ago. Only now technology has made it much worse.
NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls
The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.
The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.
thanks to daily KOS
An Illusion of Privacy and Security
The administration misled the public about the scope of its "Terrorist Surveillance Program." Despite disclosures in December of 2005 that the government had indeed tapped into telecommunication systems and was engaged in data-mining, the administration maintained publicly that the program was "limited" in nature.
That was a lie.
The NSA, the Database and YOU
Awakening this morning to the astounding news that nearly two-thirds of Americans are A-OK with being spied upon, I hastily threw together a Top Ten list of talking points as to why average citizens should worry about this. The NSA's logging of millions and millions of phone calls has many more drawbacks, I'm sure, than I'm listing here. But off the top of my head, here are obvious and fundamental problems that all Americans should worry about with this program:
The Times and USA Today have Missed the Bigger Story -- Again
by Greg Palast
I know you're shocked -- SHOCKED! -- that George Bush is listening in on all your phone calls. Without a warrant. That's nothing. And it's not news.
This is: the snooping into your phone bill is just the snout of the pig of a strange, lucrative link-up between the Administration's Homeland Security spy network and private companies operating beyond the reach of the laws meant to protect us from our government. You can call it the privatization of the FBI -- though it is better described as the creation of a private KGB.
thanks to Larry Dobson
The NSA is on the line -- all of them
An intelligence expert predicts we'll soon learn that cellphone and Internet companies also cooperated with the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on us.
The fact that the federal government has my phone records scares the living daylights out of me. They won't learn much from them other than I like ordering pizza on Friday night and I don't call my mother as often as I should. But it should scare the living daylights out of everybody, even if you're willing to permit the government certain leeways to conduct the war on terrorism.
We should be terrified that Congress has not been doing its job and because all of the checks and balances put in place to prevent this have been deliberately obviated. In order to get this done, the NSA and White House went around all of the checks and balances. I'm convinced that 20 years from now we, as historians, will be looking back at this as one of the darkest eras in American history. And we're just beginning to sort of peel back the first layers of the onion.
This really has been remarkable. It's all out of a playbook we've seen before -- it's so Watergate, we don't really even need a new name for it.
One of the problems, of course, is that the more hardcore of the Nixonites never really learned anything -- or thought they had done anything wrong -- in Watergate or the penumbra of scandals that led to those final botched moments of a presidency. The actors of those times may have been met with press investigations, belated government investigations, and even jailtime, but the core of the Republican and conservative movements never quite repudiated Watergate; they simply looked upon those acts as unfortunate but understandable sins of enthusiasm.
And so as the Nixonites themselves moved on, continuing to show up in administration after administration and in the halls of what nowadays passes for punditry, the same behaviors followed them. Prominent among them are, of course, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Even the jailed G. Gordon Liddy himself was fully "rehabilitated", in that he is now a prominent conservative radio voice, and is a frequent vessel for conservative thought on Fox News and other bastions of nuttery.
The only error, Nixonites and their broad base of supporters determined, was getting caught. And so the difference between then and now is that this administration is even more secretive, using the War on Terror to claim preemptive legitimacy and secrecy over every action, no matter how absurd the supposed justification seems. They intend to circumvent the mistakes of the past. They don't intend to give any institution -- the Congress, the FISA court, the press -- the slightest hint of sunlight through which the new but familiar, ever-expanding "programs" can be illuminated.
Urban Legends for a Post-Social-Network-Analysis Age
An American businessman visiting San Francisco on a sales trip met a beautiful Chinese woman in a bar. She tempted him back to his hotel room, where the effects of alcohol and a Rohypnol chaser caused him to fall unconscious.
To his spine-chilling horror, he awoke the next morning in a bathtub full of ice, excruciating agony piercing his lower back. A note scrawled on the bathroom mirror in lipstick enjoined him to call for a paramedic.
When the authorities arrived, they discovered that the man had a fresh surgical scar on his back, where a kidney had been removed. The Chinese Tongs, who, it is well known, deal in the international human-organ market, had claimed another victim.
The NSA, through telephonic data-mining, was immediately able to trace the Tongs, roll them up to the last foot-soldier, and return the man his kidney.
thanks to J-Walk Blog
end of empire
The US's geopolitical nightmare
By drawing attention to Iraq and the obvious role oil plays in US policy today, the George W Bush-Dick Cheney administration has done just that: it has drawn the world's energy-deficit powers' attention firmly to the strategic battle over energy, and especially oil.
This is already having consequences for the global economy in terms of US$75-a-barrel crude-oil price levels. Now it is taking on the dimension of what one former US defense secretary rightly calls a "geopolitical nightmare" for the United States.
The creation by Bush and Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and company of a geopolitical nightmare is also the backdrop to comprehend the dramatic political shift within the US establishment in the past six months, away from the Bush presidency. Simply put: Bush and Cheney and their band of neo-conservative war hawks, with their special relationship to the capacities of Israel in Iraq and across the Mideast, were given a chance.
The chance was to deliver on the US strategic goal of control of petroleum resources globally, to ensure the US role as first among equals over the next decade and beyond. Not only have they failed to "deliver" that goal of US strategic dominance, they have also threatened the very basis of continued US hegemony, or as the Rumsfeld Pentagon likes to term it, "Full Spectrum Dominance".
The move by Bolivian President Evo Morales, after meetings with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Cuba's Fidel Castro, to assert national control over oil and gas resources is only the latest demonstration of the decline in US power projection.
thanks to Antiwar.com
by Noam Chomsky
Forget Iraq and Sudan--America is the foremost failed state, argues the latest polemic from America's most controversial Left intellectual. Chomsky (Imperial Ambitions) contends the U.S. government wallows in lawless military aggression (the Iraq war is merely the latest example); ignores public opinion on everything from global warming to social spending and foreign policy; and jeopardizes domestic security by under-funding homeland defense in favor of tax cuts for the rich and by provoking hatred and instability abroad that may lead to terrorist blowback or nuclear conflict. Ranging haphazardly from the Seminole War forward, Chomsky's jeremiad views American interventionism as a pageant of imperialist power-plays motivated by crass business interests. Disdaining euphemisms, he denounces American "terror" and "war crimes," castigates the public-bamboozling "government-media propaganda campaign" and floats comparisons to Mongols and Nazis. Chomsky's fans will love it, but even mainstream critics are catching up to the substance of his take on Bush Administration policies; meanwhile his uncompromising moral sensibility, icy logic and withering sarcasm remain in a class by themselves. Required reading for every thoughtful citizen.
Couldn't have said it better myself. Here is another review:
Comments On Noam Chomsky's New Book
In his latest book, Failed States, Chomsky addresses three issues he says everyone should rank among their highest ones: "the threat of nuclear war, environmental disaster, and the fact that the government of the world's only superpower is acting in ways that increase the likelihood of (causing) these catastrophes." He also raises a fourth issue: "the sharp divide between public opinion and public policy, one of the reasons for fear....that the 'American system'....is in real trouble....(and) heading in a direction that spells the end of its historic values (of) equality, liberty and meaningful democracy."
A must read. Happy reading!
Not One Drop
George Bush has no intention of obeying international law or following the United Nation’s rules. After his Iran resolution fails in the Security Council, he’ll resume his belligerence while trying to cobble together a coalition for sanctions. The media has already begun the disinformation campaign; stressing the “serious concerns” of the international community about Iran’s nuclear programs.
It is 100% bunkum.
The “international community” has never cared a whit about Iran or its fictitious weapons programs. The driving force behind the hostilities is Washington. Even Bush’s allies on the Security Council (Germany, France and England) know the whole thing is a sham intended to elicit public support for a war.
Do they think we were born yesterday?
How Iran will win a sanctions war
Over the past two months US President George W Bush and officials of his administration have repeatedly asserted that diplomacy is crucial to resolving the Iran nuclear issue. But rather than focusing on relations between Washington and Tehran, this diplomacy has been fixated on gaining international support for US-led economic sanctions against Iran.
With Russia and China unwilling to play along, economic sanctions against Iran will be imposed by a small group of key US allies without the United Nations' imprimatur. These sanctions will prove much more damaging to those countries applying them than to Iran.
I ended up sleeping all day yesterday. I don't know if it was something I came down with or my body telling me that I really needed to sleep sometime. I do seem to be feeling better. Now to get back to regularly scheduled programming.
I need a sleep cycle and then I will get the rest of the links up that I've been trying to get up the past several days. I have nowhere to go so I will be able to get caught up on some work.
I've spent the last year acquiring my photography kit, which I've chronicled here. Now life is letting me start to shoot with it. As I use the gear and get the photographs back some of the directions I've gone in have worked fine while others need new directions. This is about a photograph that didn't do what I wanted and a thread in Rangefinder Forum that helped answer the problem and provided some new directions.
This is my first exposure with the Burke & James. Some things worked great. There was an exposure. That's good. I didn't fog the film. The film holder is working. It's in focus. All sorts of good things. It could use a little more exposure. I really need to use my spot meter but I was doing a whole lot of new things at once and didn't want to do too much new stuff at once. There is detail in the tree but it won't show if your monitor is calibrated different than mine or you are looking at it in a bright room. The film, Efke PL25, is pretty grain free and the lens is sharp:
A detail of the left sign.
The biggest failure, for me, is that this should have been in color. I definitely need to order some color film. There are some pictures I want to do that want to be black and white but this one, and other pictures around Whidbey Island I want to do, should be in color. That decision was certainly influenced by recently reading Stephen Shore's Uncommon Places as well as books by Joel Sternfeld and William Eggleston that I will post about later.
At the same time I was deciding to do large format color I ran across a thread at Rangefinder Forum titled: Polaroid RF conversions to sheet film & roll film.... Hmmm. I had been planning to use my 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 Speed Graphic for hand held large format but being able to convert an old Polaroid camera to 4x5 would make a smaller package that would also allow me to us my 4x5 Polaroid film back. Reading that thread sent me into a googling frenzy. There are all sorts in interesting conversons. Some involve the early professional Polaroid 110b.
This one cut the back and installed a 4x5 Graflok back. The 110b has a nice lens, which most Polaroids don't. But $100 is about the minimum you will pay for one. Another option, and a cheap option it is, is the Polaroid Automatic 250.
That is actually a 180 which is the same as the 250 but with a real lens. Another Graflok back grafted onto the body. There are two names that come up when searching for Polaroid conversions: Noah Schwartz (the 180 above was from Noah) and Dean at Razzeldog. Dean has done quite a number of interesting Polaroid conversions which he has put on a CD (Scroll down his Polaroid page.) Here is a review of Dean's CD. I have one on order. I also bought a 250 for $5 plus $10 shipping.
Zoe actually has one of these but she said bad things to me when she wanted to know what I was looking at her 250 and I told her about how it could be converted to 4x5. It does have a lovely rangefinder but a sucky lens. But I alread have a good lens. It's a Kodak Ektar 127mm that is on the Speed Graphic. It would work fine on the Polaroid. It would be equivalent to a 36mm lens. And I have a Graflok back. I've been using it on the Burke & James. I thought about buying another but $50 saved means $50 for film. I thought about it real hard and came to another decision. I have the 4x5 Graflok back and the original 5x7 back that needs glass and some repair. I've not been able to figure out when I would use the 4x5 and when to use the 5x7. There was also the redundancy in my lenses. Here is a chart showing the equivalency in 35mm lenses.
You can see how the 15omm on the 4x5 is the same as the 210mm on the 5x7. This happens all the way down the chart. There is a lot of duplication and I decided to cut the duplication by removing the 4x5 Graflok back for the Polaroid and just shoot 5x7 on the Burke & James. I can still screw it back on if I need it for tests (4x5 film or 120 roll film is a lot cheaper).
So Bill's question about Polaroid conversions was a timely whack on the side of the head that opened up new possibilities and gave some new directions. Thanks Bill!
But wait! There's more! Dean's CD has some Polaroid J66 (another cheap Polaroid) conversions into 6x12 and 6x17 flat back panoramic cameras. I have a Wollensak 90mm lens that I was going to use on the Speed Graphic that would be perfect for a 6x12. I await the arrival of Dean's CD.
It's been a case of Bloggus Interuptus. I've been having to go off island too much the last few days and I've been trying to get started on a new website for a local artist, as well as meeting with another new customer. Also some changes on the photography front. I should be back on track in the next day or two. All will be revealed.
happy mother's day
A happy Mother's Day to all you mothers. I will be visiting my mother. Then I hope to get the rest of my links up. Just been busy and also distracted by bright shiny things.