off to the heart of darkness
We are still busy packing. We catch the 7:30am ferry off the Island. We fly out late morning for Orange County airport just south of Los Angeles, California. I will be back Sunday night and Zoe will be back Friday. I will have my digital Pentax SLR with a 2GB card, my 35mm Leica IIIc with 2 rolls of Tri-X, and my medium format 2 1/4 square Ricoh Diacord with 2 rolls of color Fuji Pro 160s, 2 rolls of Efke 25, and 2 rolls of Tri-X. Kim will be over watching the cats. More links Monday. Ciao.
osama bin laden
Decoding bin Laden's Latest: An Odd Congruence
So is Osama bin Laden truly "evil?" Most people who lost family members at the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001 would probably consider him to be evil. Was President Ronald Reagan evil? Most residents of Beirut who lost family members when the USS New Jersey rained 2,700 pound Mark 7 shells on residential neighborhoods in 1983 during the Lebanese Civil War probably considered Reagan to have been evil. Bottom line? Bin Laden is no more evil than other revolutionary leaders in other times or even than ordinary national leaders who propel their countries to war for "national honor," or to acquire the resources of others, or even to "do good."
So if bin Laden, if looked at dispassionately and analytically, is neither absolutely "crazy" nor utterly "evil," what is he?
Bin Laden is a serious and wily adversary who knows how to manipulate the Arab "street." He is intelligent and well-informed-- clearly far better informed about the U.S. and the West than the apparatchiks and their bosses in the current White House are informed about him and his region of influence. Bin Laden thinks strategically and takes the long view; he is tactically flexible and is not afraid to retreat to attain an ultimate strategic advantage. Unfortunately for the U.S., he probably has a 40 point I.Q. advantage over the current occupant of the White House.
In short, we should not risk underestimating bin Laden by dismissing him out of hand as "crazy" and "evil."
Even if Osama bin Laden ends up serving as the revolutionary catalyst for some regime changes in the Islamic World, it will be the societies themselves that will reorganize, reconstruct, and manage themselves. Bin Laden will never become some sort of menacing, all-powerful "Caliph," and given the ethnic and national differences within the Arab and Islamic Worlds, neither will anyone else. Such a threat is a bogeyman created by the willfully ignorant or the merely delusional.
The U.S., if it is sensibly introspective about its true "vital" interests before its self-infliected wounds become critical, may yet manage to remain prosperous and survive as one great power among several.
But the U.S. simply cannot afford to behave like a global hegemon, especially an eagerly interventionist one, in perpetuity. The U.S. economy cannot sustain such a role.
Is it not time to turn away from following bin Laden's agenda, which, oddly enough (as bin Laden himself observes) is congruent with the neoconservative agenda and the corporatist agenda: seeking more U.S. military interventions in the Islamic world, resulting in more violent resistance to U.S. military occupations, more strain on the U.S. economy (and perhaps even a structural breakdown), more fissures in U.S. alliances, and ultimately the collapse of the "American Empire?"
Why is the U.S. playing a game with the rules set by Osama bin Laden?
Are we truly stupid?
Christmas is coming! Christmas is coming! Time to order your cards.
Cara Scissoria Greeting Cards
thanks to Politics in the Zeros
Shock and Awe
What all this comes down to is the sense of a nation absolutely fooling itself that it can carry on in the way it is used to. I'm hardly an advocate of the US giving up and committing suicide. What I advocate is a broad recognition that reality is compelling us to change our behavior. Reality is trying to tell us that we can't run an economy based on nothing more than investment schemes without directing investment into activities that produce things of value. Reality is telling us to be very worried about living arrangements that can only function with copious imports of oil from people who are disgusted with us. Reality is telling us that we can't divert our food crops into making motor fuels without people becoming unable to afford either fuel or food. Reality is telling us to redirect our culture more toward things-we-do-with-other-people and less toward things-we-do-with-new-things. Reality is telling us to shift from avoidance behavior and denial to engaging with reality in order to lead lives that are consistent with reality.
The next several weeks are liable to be a time of great stress as these realities become increasingly undeniable. I imagine the public chatter will become increasingly delusional as the wave crests. When it it finally comes, the shock of recognition that we are a bankrupt nation will present itself at first as a great silence. The public's collective jaw will fall open, but no sound will come out. That will be the true moment of shock and awe.
So rich he wants to start his own country
Last week I was working with Swiss Public Television doing a documentary on "Joe Bageant's Winchester." During the process I ran into a man from one of the wealthy local families who works in global finance abroad, has some murky US State Department connection with his work, and owns a brokerage in New York. We yakked bit, he agreed that there is a worldwide financial collapse coming, then he asked what I was doing back in town. I explained we were filming my people, the people born on the wrong side of the tracks. The working grunts. "Well when they find out what has been done to them and that it can never be fixed I don't want to be in this country." I thought such a bold faced admission of our condition was pretty bad.
But it got worse. He has an escape plan. The guy is so rich he wants to START HIS OWN FUCKING COUNTRY.
I don't listen to radio much but I had NPR on the other day and they were talking about a show in Tacoma of quilts made from the women of Gee's Bend. It sounded like it was worth checking out. It most certainly is.
The Quilts of Gee's Bend
Here is information on the Tacoma show.
Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt
This exhibition examines the extraordinary quilts made by the women of Gee’s Bend, an isolated community in rural Alabama. For four generations, the women of Gee’s Bend have been creating quilts of exceptional artistry, revealing a remarkable command of design and a painterly approach to a traditional art form. The exhibition will explore in depth the impact of architecture, environment, and traditional quilting motifs upon the Gee’s Bend distinctive aesthetic. The exhibition will further explore examples of family quilting lineages and improvisational interpretations of traditional motifs.
global climate change
How Fast is Global Warming Happening?
When I began writing _A Nation of Farmers_ last year, one of the first sections I completed was the introduction to the agricultural impact of climate change. I finished it in early March, and felt that I'd produced a fairly cutting-edge synthesis of the implications of Global Warming for food and agriculture - and about the power of food and agriculture to mediate global warming. Pleased that I'd written something useful and that at least one chapter of the book was finished, I sent it off to my publisher for their perusal and turned to other things. I could have just saved myself time and shoved it in the recycling bin, deleted it from my hard drive and taken a nap.
It wasn't that wasn't carefully researched or written, just that the data on climate change is coming in so fast right now that what I wrote this spring is now largely outdated. There are now further refinements, subsequent studies and new models to deal with. I subscribe to a number of news feeds, and people send me additional studies and items of interest. My husband, an astrophysicist who teaches environmental physics also tracks the same material. And what, overwhelmingly I'm seeing, and most scientists seem to be seeing, is that global warming is progressing far faster than anyone would ever have expected.
For example, as recently as this spring, the IPCC report was estimating that arctic ice might disappear in the summers as early as 2050, but more likely towards the very end of this century. Research by James Hansen and other scientists at NASA projected an ice free arctic as early as 2023 this year, which stunned the scientific community. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7006640.stm In fact, however, this summer's ice retreat was so dramatic, that in, fact, the University of Colorado's National Snow and Ice Data Center is now suggesting that the arctic could be ice free as early as 2015, 8 years from now. In less than six months, we've jumped our predictions for a major tipping point factor up by a minimum of 30 years. That's astonishing - and terrifying.
Here is a great online comic.
War of the Worlds
Blackwater: Are You Scared Yet?
The New York Times reported today that Blackwater, the infamous organization that has been accused of killing civilians in Iraq, “has been involved in a far higher rate of shootings while guarding American diplomats in Iraq than other security firms.” A mercenary firm in Iraq with an itchy trigger finger is bad enough. But it now appears that Blackwater’s activities may be massively expanded — and not in Iraq.
In little noticed news, Blackwater, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Arinc were recently awarded a collective $15 billion — yes, billion — from the Pentagon to conduct global counter-narcotics operations. This means that Blackwater can be deployed to engage with citizens on a whole new level of intimacy anywhere around the world — including here at home. What is scarier than scary is that Blackwater’s overall plans are to do more and more of its armed and dangerous ‘security’ operations on U.S. soil.
In my recently released book, The End of America — Letters of Warning to a Young Patriot, I describe the 10 steps that would-be tyrants use to close down a democracy and produce a “fascist shift.” The third of the ten steps is to ‘Develop a Paramilitary Force.’ Without a paramilitary force that is not answerable to the people’s representatives, democracy cannot be closed down; however, with such a force available to would-be despots, democracy can be drastically and quickly weakened.
Every effective despot — from Mussolini to Hitler, Stalin, the members of the Chinese Politburo, General Augusto Pinochet and the many Latin American dictators who learned from these models of controlling citizens — has used this essential means to pressure civilians and intimidate dissent. Mussolini was the innovator in the use of thugs to intimidate what was a democracy, if a fragile one, before he actually marched on Rome; he developed the strategic deployment of blackshirts to beat up communists and opposition leaders, trash newspapers and turn on civilians, forcing ordinary Italians, for instance, to ingest emetics. Hitler studied Mussolini; he deployed thugs — in the form of brownshirts — in similar ways before he came formally to power.
work work work work
It's been a perfect storm of work, which is a good thing since it paid for tickets to Los Angeles. I finished up one project and am trying to finish up the second but my customer seems to have fallen off the face of the earth. I hope he shows up soon so I can finish that job. Friday Zoe and I fly down to Los Angeles. Orange County, actually. Zoe is going down to the California office of Clear Passage Therapies for some deep body work, primarily for her carpal tunnel but also a touch up from the work they did on her in Florida in February. I will be going down with her to help her get set up and will fly back Sunday night. This will be the first time we have been on a trip together. Zoe's excited about going to an ocean beach where you can actually go in the water. You can go in the water around here in Puget Sound, or the ocean on the Washington coast, but our water is really cold and hypothermia sets in way to soon to have much fun. I'm looking forward to it.
In addition to web work I added new straps to gordy's camera straps
The thumbscrew I used for my tripod mount straps was easy to turn but was large and in the way. A customer suggested using round head and socket head cap screws.
It was a great idea but I had to reshoot all the tripod mount pictures and redo the tripod mount wrist strap page.
I've also ordered the parts to make a macro studio. It's a version of one seen at the Strobist. I will be making it out of PVC pipe and connectors. My local Ace Hardware didn't have all the connectors I needed so I ordered them from Simplified Building Concepts. When they come in I will get some 1/2" pvc pipe from Ace. My photographer friend Don gave me some great white plastic sheets for diffusion material. They are the heavy white plastic used to make trash compactor bags. Next week's project while Zoe is gone. Now to see if I can get some of the piles of links posted.