Saturday September 4 2004
I used to do portraits, but that was too many years ago. I always liked doing them. I'm starting to get back into it again, but this time I'm using a hot light and umbrella. Learning new things all the time. This is my son Robby. Here is a larger version. I will be doing more.
I've added the second section of day 6 on my trip report to DC and NYC: Gordy and Madelane's Great Pilgrimage
Observations and Digressions
Day 6 — Part 2
Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim museum
In Western Iraq, Fundamentalists Hold U.S. at Bay
While American troops have been battling Islamic militants to an uncertain outcome in Najaf, the Shiite holy city, events in two Sunni Muslim cities that stand astride the crucial western approaches to Baghdad have moved significantly against American plans to build a secular democracy in Iraq.
Both of the cities, Falluja and Ramadi, and much of Anbar Province, are now controlled by fundamentalist militias, with American troops confined mainly to heavily protected forts on the desert's edge. What little influence the Americans have is asserted through wary forays in armored vehicles, and by laser-guided bombs that obliterate enemy safe houses identified by scouts who penetrate militant ranks. Even bombing raids appear to strengthen the fundamentalists, who blame the Americans for scores of civilian deaths.
American efforts to build a government structure around former Baath Party stalwarts - officials of Saddam Hussein's army, police force and bureaucracy who were willing to work with the United States - have collapsed. Instead, the former Hussein loyalists, under threat of beheadings, kidnappings and humiliation, have mostly resigned or defected to the fundamentalists, or been killed. Enforcers for the old government, including former Republican Guard officers, have put themselves in the service of fundamentalist clerics they once tortured at Abu Ghraib.
Vintage Hawaiian Posters
thanks to Life In The Present
care packages for soldiers
My son-in-law, William, is now in Iraq. He first went to Kuwait and then, a week ago, drove up to Ramadi in a convoy. He said that it's not as bad as he thought but he has not had to go off the base. The unit his unit is replacing lost 10 soldiers. Zoe and I have sent one care package but have not been sure what to send. It seems there is a company (Zoe found it) that knows what is wanted. They have a number of packages that you can order and they will send to the soldier of your choice.
Treats for Troops
Treats for Troops makes it safe and simple to send packages to Americans on active duty, whether you already know someone in the armed forces, or just know you want to do something to show your support.
They make it real easy. You can order packages or individual items. Familys and friends can register a soldier and you can pick a soldier or, if you know the soldiers Treats for Troops ID number, you can send to a soldier you know. Zoe registered William as Bill Valdez. His TFT ID is 1862195. Here is the page to select a soldier or order for a soldier you know:
Welcome to the TFT GIFT SHOP
thanks to Conscientious
This has been getting a lot of ink and pixels. There has always been a cozy relationship between the Neocons, AIPAC (the Israeli lobby), and Israel. These people think it's more important to support Israel than their own country. Traitors! Laura Rozen broke this story and is keeping on top of it.
Fresh scrutiny on a rogue Pentagon operation.
On Friday evening, CBS News reported that the FBI is investigating a suspected mole in the Department of Defense who allegedly passed to Israel, via a pro-Israeli lobbying organization, classified American intelligence about Iran. The focus of the investigation, according to U.S. government officials, is Larry Franklin, a veteran Defense Intelligence Agency Iran analyst now working in the office of the Pentagon's number three civilian official, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith.
Israeli 'mole' investigation grows
FBI agents Sunday and Monday questioned senior officials in the Department of Defense as part of an investigation into allegations that a Pentagon analyst passed on classified documents to an Israeli lobbying group, which may have then passed them on to the government of Israel. The documents in question were papers on the US's stance towards Iran.
thanks to War and Piece
Axis Of Spies
Here's the axis we should be worried about: The Axis of Spies made up by the American Enterprise Institute, AIPAC and the Embassy of Israel.If the FBI weren’t so busy trying to catch nonexistent Al Qaeda suspects, they might consider devoting a few more resources to tracking down this expanding Israeli nest of spies. (Oh, and The New Republic is very quiet on the Larry Franklin spy scandal so far. Very quiet. Too quiet.)
Pentagon/Israel Spying Case Expands:
Fomenting a War on Iran
by Juan Cole
It is an echo of the one-two punch secretly planned by the pro-Likud faction in the Department of Defense. First, Iraq would be taken out by the United States, and then Iran. David Wurmser, a key member of the group, also wanted Syria included. These pro-Likud intellectuals concluded that 9/11 would give them carte blanche to use the Pentagon as Israel's Gurkha regiment, fighting elective wars on behalf of Tel Aviv (not wars that really needed to be fought, but wars that the Likud coalition thought it would be nice to see fought so as to increase Israel's ability to annex land and act aggressively, especially if someone else's boys did the dying).
The Israeli spying accusation: big questions!
by Helena Cobban
What might this "something big" be? I haven't the foggiest. But I can tell you this: Now that the accusations have been publicly voiced, this is evidently not a story that's going to go away. I'm hoping that newshounds with the big, well-supported media (unlike my humble self) can really get to work hard on the story. In which case, I have no doubt we'll learn more in the days ahead...
early movie cameras
Antique Motion Picture Studio Cameras
Here it is, the first unit "A" camera on the original 1933 King Kong. (working title was "The Beast")
thanks to The Cartoonist
Check out the details of these cameras. Extra pictures and some interesting histories.
"Bait and Switch: Ariel Sharon, the Bush Administration, and the West Bank"
Much attention has focused recently on Ariel Sharon’s travails in Israel where a majority of his Likud Party oppose his intent to withdraw all Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip as part of his Disengagement Plan. At the same time, though less noticed, President Bush has declared that Israeli realities on the ground in the West Bank, in the form of large settlement complexes, should remain in any future peace arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Bush’s stance and tacit support for expansion of Israeli settlements, not merely their retention, contradict the Road Map to which he proclaims his ongoing commitment as the basis of the peace process What is occurring is a bait and switch. Most commentators, and the Palestinian leadership, have seen the Gaza withdrawal plan as the first step in a broader reduction of settlements that will eventually include most of the West Bank, setting the stage for a negotiated Palestinian state. In fact Sharon and his allies in the White House and Defense Department envision Sharon consolidating Israel’s ongoing control of the West Bank, thwarting any possibility of a future Palestine, a development ignored by commentators who concentrate on Sharon’s domestic political troubles over opposition to the Gaza withdrawal.
NASA Fakes Moon Landing!
Heroic images or NASA fraud? At last we have the conclusive proof! The image on the left clearly shows the supposed 25,000 of thrust generated by the lunar lander to arrest its descent. Yet in the image on the right, where is the giant crater this would have created? Looks like the complex web of NASA lies is about to unravel!
thanks to The Cartoonist
Across Asia, Beijing's Star Is in Ascendance
Not long ago Australia and China regarded each other with suspicion. But through newfound diplomatic finesse and the seemingly irresistible lure of its long economic expansion, Beijing has skillfully turned around relations with Australia, America's staunchest ally in the region.
The turnabout is just one sign of the broad new influence Beijing has accumulated across the Asian Pacific with American friends and foes alike. From the mines of Newman - an outpost of 3,000 in a corner of the outback - to theforests of Myanmar, the former Burma, China's rapid growth is sucking up resources and pulling the region's varied economies in its wake. The effect is unlike anything since the rise of Japanese economic power after World War II.
For now, China's presence mostly translates into money, and the doors it opens. But more and more, China is leveraging its economic clout to support its political preferences.
thanks to Bad Attitudes
I've heard about his. It sure looks tasty!
THE ROAD TO TURDUCKEN
What the Fuck is Turducken?
Turducken is a dish, usually served around the holidays, that is made by cramming a boneless chicken into a boneless duck, which is stuffed into a boneless turkey. Three kinds of stuffing are layered between the three kinds of meat and the monstrosity is cooked for a very long time. The end result, when cut, is a fantastic food rainbow that must be eaten to be believed.
But the road to Turducken is not a short one. The dish isn't found on many take-out menus, isn't sold in the frozen foods section at the local supermarket and must be made at home, for the most part. The entire process will take you two full days, leave you covered in blood and guts and cost more than $100. This turducken is the ultimate test of the primal desire to feed, requiring baking, boiling, broiling, butchering, sauteeing, chopping, stirring, sifting and even sewing, but once you're seated with a plate and fork you will understand.
thanks to J-Walk Blog
Peak Oil - Risky Behaviour Tells the Story
Many people, with very high level connections appear to be taking very significant risks in countries that have oil.
The only possible fact that could justify such extravagant risks, that is also associated with oil, is peak production. The implications of that fact are very severe if they were to arrive without adequate preparation and there is frankly zero preparation being conducted in the general population right now. The concept that there is no longer a tap we can open a bit more every time we need more oil, is never addressed for a moment in mainstream media, but when someone suggests that the available amounts of oil are now shrinking, and will never again reach current levels; that will start a major panic. And yesterday I came across First signs of a global decline in oil. Now, although it is reported on Al Jazeera, it refers to British trade journal Petroleum Review which has reviewed the 2003 Statistical Review of World Energy, put together by British Petroleum, to look for signs of depletion.
Its study claims that a large group of producer countries are now in decline - putting even more pressure on those countries who have spare production capacity. There are several worrying aspects to this decline. The first is that added to the current increase in global demand, it means other countries must produce more just for the market to stay still. Secondly, as those countries are forced to produce to their capacity, it only hastens the day when they too will have declining output.
Depletion speeding up
"What surprised me was the rate of decline among the 18 countries whose production is going down," Petroleum Review editor and oil analyst Chris Skrebowski told Aljazeera. "For fourteen out of the eighteen countries the rate of depletion is speeding up. This has confounded a long held view that decline was a slow, gradual process.
thanks to Politics in the Zeros
The above link led me to his archive of peak oil articles. It looks like a good place to follow this issue.
The Mike Runge Peak Oil Archive
To put a picture on this issue, here is an interesting little graph.
The Future of Energy: How Soon Is the Global Peak Oil Production Year?
Another way to look at this chart is to see it as a demand curve. The oil is being pumped to meet the demand, except for the dip in the 70s due to political differences between the Arab producers and the Western buyers. The production of oil reflects the demand for oil. The scary part is that, as the production of oil peaks and falls, the demand curve keeps rising. The difference between that demand rise and production fall equals price increases. We aren't only talking about the price of gasoline at the pumps. The price of oil touches just about everything we do. Earl Mardle, in the first link of this post, also had this:
Last year I had a new floor put on my house. It could easily have been built by my grandfather, there were very few materials that he would not have recognised or understood. But instead of a hammer, a handsaw and a set of screwdrivers that he would have used, tools with a relatively low energy cost that last several lifetimes if handled properly, the builders used nail guns, screw guns and electric saws that saw the job done in maybe a tenth the time. But the energy cost of those tools is also many times higher. The guns cost energy to build and replace muscle, so do the gas cartridges that power them and the nail cartridges that replace a box of loose nails that the carpenter holds in his mouth and drives in with his muscles.
Because paying people is more expensive than buying and using a gun, the whole process is not only faster, but more profitable. As long as the energy costs are trivial. Start paying the real cost of spending non-renewable resources in that way, and the equations change massively. And I saw a suggestion the other day that a realistic price for a barrel of oil would currently be $185.
the past is only over our shoulder and a heartbeat behind
thanks to Life In The Present
delusion, fear, and hate
I didn't watch much of the Republican convention. My mental state is in a pretty precarious position already. Following the convention first hand would have sent me over the edge. The Republican party has become a diseased entity. It lives in an alternative universe where reality doesn't intrude.
The I[raq] of the Storm: Voices from the Convention Floor
But when you spoke to individual delegates, you entered a world of genuine emotion; you entered, in short, a belief system. Unlike George Bush, with a speech carefully constructed by writers in front of him, the delegates all spoke without texts, quite spontaneously, and with numerous feelings on display -- not the least of which was fear. Their words were sometimes a lot rawer than what you read in the papers or generally hear on TV, but what made them striking was how similar what they said was, not just in tone but in words used and points made (as you'll see). That, of course, is the mark of a belief system -- lines repeated as your own from some deeper, jointly held text of conviction. Theirs is a text in which there is, generally, a single "them." "They" hit us. We struck back. Iraq was "theirs." The choices, such as they are, are simple and obvious. They would sound familiar indeed to those who remember the Vietnam era, when Lyndon Johnson, for instance, claimed that if we didn't fight the communists in Vietnam, we'd be doing so on West coast beaches. Today, once again, it's just a question of our soil or theirs, and theirs -- Iraq (Iran, Syria, or North Korea) -- is clearly preferable.
In this belief system, the arguments of their opponents carry, essentially, no weight whatsoever. It doesn't matter if the New York Times or the Los Angeles Times now reports that the whole "Sunni triangle" has blinked off the American map of Iraq and is being recreated as a series of mini-Taliban-like fiefdoms. This is no evidence of failure; nor are the missing weapons of mass destruction; nor is the lack of a bona fide al-Qaeda tie with Saddam (even if the 9/11 Commission confirmed its absence); nor is the now-never-ending, unaccomplished war in Iraq. In the end, it's enough to say that Saddam himself was a weapon of mass destruction, as most of the delegates did indeed do.
You would, in a sense, expect no less of these delegates. Still, step inside their belief system for a minute and think about where the logic takes you, should there be another Bush round. The logic takes you wherever this administration wants to go, wherever "they" are found to be.
Feel the Hate
by Paul Krugman
But the vitriol also reflects the fact that many of the people at that convention, for all their flag-waving, hate America. They want a controlled, monolithic society; they fear and loathe our nation's freedom, diversity and complexity.
The convention opened with an invocation by Sheri Dew, a Mormon publisher and activist. Early rumors were that the invocation would be given by Jerry Falwell, who suggested just after 9/11 that the attack was God's punishment for the activities of the A.C.L.U. and People for the American Way, among others. But Ms. Dew is no more moderate: earlier this year she likened opposition to gay marriage to opposition to Hitler.
The party made sure to put social moderates like Rudy Giuliani in front of the cameras. But in private events, the story was different. For example, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas told Republicans that we are in a "culture war" and urged a reduction in the separation of church and state.
Mr. Bush, it's now clear, intends to run a campaign based on fear. And for me, at least, it's working: thinking about what these people will do if they solidify their grip on power makes me very, very afraid.
Zwischen Emscher Und Ruhr
thanks to Conscientious
"I'm very ashamed"
The former Texas official who got George Bush into the National Guard apologizes for making sure that young men with important "family names" did not have to fight in Vietnam.
Another bombshell in the battle over Vietnam service that has been raging in the 2004 presidential race exploded on the Web Friday. In a video originally posted on the Web by a pro-Kerry organization in Austin, Texas, Ben Barnes, a former lieutenant governor of Texas, apologized for his role in getting a young George W. Bush into the Texas Air National Guard while young men who were not from prominent or wealthy families "died in Vietnam."
"Let's talk a minute about John Kerry and George Bush, and I know them both," said Barnes in the video, which was filmed at a gathering of about 200 Kerry supporters in Austin on May 27. "I got a young man named George W. Bush into the Texas National Guard when I was lieutenant governor, and I'm not necessarily proud of that. But I did it. I got a lot of other people in the National Guard because I thought that was what people should do when you're in office, and you help a lot of rich people."
"And I walked to the Vietnam Memorial the other day," Barnes continued, "and I looked at the names of the people that died in Vietnam, and I became more ashamed of myself than I have ever been, because it was the worst thing I ever did, was help a lot of wealthy supporters and a lot of people who had family names of importance get into the National Guard. And I'm very sorry about that, and I'm very ashamed, and I apologize to you as voters of Texas."
George W. Bush's missing year
The widow of a Bush family confidant says her husband gave the future president an Alabama Senate campaign job as a favor to his worried father. Did they see him do any National Guard service? "Good lord, no."
Robot Comic Book Cover Gallery
thanks to Coudal Partners
the fourth republic
Stirling Newberry's series on the Constitutional crisis we are in is finished. The entire series is on one page. The beginning of the series is at the bottom. A must read.
Welcome to the Freeple's Republic
The Liberal Democratic order is over - as can be seen from the Bush v Gore decision, which at a stroke overturns all of the legal notions on which the Liberal Democracy was founded. The prediction, when I wrote the first draft of the Fourth Republic in July 2001, was that Bush would, as all reactionary moments must, pursue a radically different monetary order, and a radically different constitutional order. No one, at the time, truly believed me, and no one, at the time, would publish such a contention. I note that on the cover of Harper's Magazine this month there is an article that screams about how the Right wing has engaged in a "Putsch" with the media.
Putsch is right, but "media" is wrong. The reactionary order has come about because there was a demand for it - namely those holding value in the old system could no longer have that value protected by the old monetary system. They had to change the nature of money to continue to hold an ever increasing percentage of the society's wealth. Just as the end of slavery's expansion ended the Federalist Republic, and the end of the ability to settle the interior ended the Union, the end of the ability to create wealth from technology, ended the Liberal Democracy. A Constitutional order dies when it has no new worlds to conquer.
Thursday September 2 2004
American Photographs: The Road
In 1935, the collaborative satirical writers Ilya Ilf (1897-1937) and Evgeny Petrov (1903-1942) traveled to the United States from the Soviet Union on assignment as special correspondents for the newspaper Pravda. Shortly after their arrival in New York aboard the French luxury liner Normandie, they purchased a Ford automobile and embarked upon a ten-week road trip to California and back.
The closer you get to a city, the wider the road becomes. Its lines run out from under the wheels of the automobile multiplying in number every minute, like railway tracks that increase tenfold upon nearing the proximity of a big train station.
thanks to wood s lot
Bob Harris has some interesting comments on his trip to Turkey.
Notes from a country which borders on Iraq
It's a whole other deal to stand in a museum here in Istanbul and look at the first known peace treaty in human history, signed in Akkadian (the lingua franca of the time) by representatives of the Hittite dynasty and Ramses II of Egypt. Like, right in front of you. There it is. Bam. The actual piece of clay they pressed their styli into.
I've been busy lately. Some of it was actual work — finishing up one project and modifying another. I've also been rebuilding my pinhole mount. I built a pinhole mount for my medium format Mamiya last December but it has been problematic. I kept getting a strange flare. Sometimes it was worse than others and sometimes it wasn't there at all. I took some pinholes on my trip to New York. I looked at the negatives and could see the flare and was very disappointed.
I don't have these up on the trip to New York report yet. The one above is from the Caffe Reggio on McDougal Street looking across the street from our table. Louisa May Alcott lived in that building. You can see the V flare. It's been frustrating. These are on 120 roll film and they would have made wonderful enlargements.
This exposure was for the duration of our meal. The best poached eggs I've ever had! The V flare is less but still ruined the image.
Half a V is just visible here at the main branch of the NY Public Library. There was one that the flare, only half a V, worked with the image. At the Guggenheim...
Not only that, but the cardboard mount started to disentegrate before the trip was over. Time to redesign the mount.
I ripped the old mount out of the bayonet lens mount. I cut out a piece of aluminum with a hacksaw, rounded it off with a file, and swept bondo (auto body filler) around the edges to hold it in place in the lens mount.
The bondo had to be applied several times before all was smooth.
I hacksawed and filed some brass (Sebo's, a local hardware store, has a nice selection of metal for hobbyists) into a cover for the pinhole and some stops. The stops are held on with 5 minute epoxy. The pinhole isn't installed but it the mount is ready for painting. As a matter of fact, the first coat on the front side is drying even as I type. When the front is done I install the pinhole and pinhole cover and then paint the back side. The screw is held on with a nylon insert nut and lock washer. I can adjust the tension on the screw and it stays.
I'm anxious to start shooting with this pinhole.
I've added another section on my trip report to DC and NYC: Gordy and Madelane's Great Pilgrimage
Observations and Digressions
Day 6 — Part 1
Cathedral of Saint John the Divine