Wednesday December 21 2005
I probably won't be posting next until after Christmas so I would like to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas. (I'm the tall one in the picture.) Everyone take care.
more boxes of memories
Saturday night I went back down to my mom's old place. My brother Terry and his family had cleaned everyting up and Robby, my son, and Madelane, my sister, picked most of it up in Robby's Vanagon. We dropped most off at Madelane's and I took a few more boxes of photographs and papers home. I made a quick inventory and found some interesting negatives.
Top row: Terry, Michael (died Jan1, 1996), and me.
Bottom row: Mark, Madelane, and Roger
I have a couple of small prints from this series so I was pretty excited to find the color negatives. This is a Sunday morning in front of our house in Japan. It's 1957 or 1958. I suppose we were off to church but I don't remember that so much. I do remember going to the Tachikawa Officer's Club after church for brunch. The waiters would see this crowd coming in and start bringing out plates of toast. Good times.
When I think this administration can't get any worse they prove me wrong. They have taken to spying of US citizens. But not only are they spying on US citizens, which is against Federal law because Nixon did the same thing and they passed laws against it, but they admit it and are proud of it. Even Republicans are waking up to the monster they have spawned.
Chris Nelson writes . . .
by now you will have, or should have, read a great deal about the revelation that President Bush authorized domestic surveillance of US citizen's phone calls and other conversations, inside the US, fairly clearly in direct contravention of US laws, including laws his Administration had just passed...a question, or charge, on which Congressional Republicans are feeling sufficient "heat" that a real investigation may actually take place next year.
Both senior House Republican leader Tom Davis, a fundamentally decent man with a sense of shame, and Senate Judiciary chair Arlen Specter, who has more frequently stood up to the extreme right of his party, have said that since serious legal and constitutional issues are now before Congress, that the American people deserve a real investigation, with real answers.
The president was so desperate to kill The New York Times’ eavesdropping story, he summoned the paper’s editor and publisher to the Oval Office. But it wasn’t just out of concern about national security.
Finally we have a Washington scandal that goes beyond sex, corruption and political intrigue to big issues like security versus liberty and the reasonable bounds of presidential power. President Bush came out swinging on Snoopgate—he made it seem as if those who didn’t agree with him wanted to leave us vulnerable to Al Qaeda—but it will not work. We’re seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator, or in his own mind, no doubt, like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.
thanks to firedoglake
The NY Times broke the story but they knew about this before that last election. Maybe Bush wouldn't be President if the Times had done it's job of reporting instead of covering up. Spying on US citizens was made a crime because of the abuse under Nixon. The abuses continue. They aren't spying on terrorists, they are spying on environmental, animal rights, peace and social justice groups as well as gay groups.
Wiretap Mystery: Spooks React
All of the sigint specialists emphasized repeatedly that keeping tabs on Americans is way beyond the bounds of what they ordinarily do -- no matter what the conspiracy crowd may think.
"It's drilled into you from minute one that you should not ever, ever, ever, under any fucking circumstances turn this massive apparatus on an American citizen," one source says. "You do a lot of weird shit. But at least you don't fuck with your own people."
thanks to Eschaton
Here is some conjecture on why this is also very different.
Analog vs. Digital Snooping: Is This Bush's Distinction?
And the fascist apologizers seem to forget some of out history.
Civil liberties don’t matter much ‘after you’re dead,’ Cornyn says on spy case
“None of your civil liberties matter much after you’re dead,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a former judge and close ally of the president who sits on the Judiciary Committee.
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who has led a bipartisan filibuster against a reauthorization of the Patriot Act, quoted Patrick Henry, an icon of the American Revolution, in response: “Give me liberty or give me death.”
thanks to daily KOS
The bottom line is that Bush is admitting to breaking Federal law by claiming he is above the law. I don't think this defense will work.
Congressman calls for Bush impeachment
thanks to Eschaton
I would wager that Bush, like Nixon, isn't going to finish out his term of office.
I've added a vertical neck strap to my website gordy's camera straps.
Not many cameras come with the right lugs to do this. The Leica M5 and Leica CL did as well as the Voigtlander Bessa R series with the trigger winder. This strap lets any camer be hung vertically if it has lug mounts and a tripod mount. Personally, I like the vertical mount. Particularly if you have a heavy lens. It's won't flop over on you.
America slowly confronts the truth
by Robert Fisk
Watching the pathetic, old, lie-on-its-back frightened labrador of the American media changing overnight into a vicious rottweiler is one of the enduring pleasures of society in the United States. I have been experiencing this phenomenon over the past two weeks, as both victim and beneficiary.
In New York and Los Angeles, my condemnation of the American presidency and Israel's continued settlement-building in the West Bank was originally treated with the disdain all great papers reserve for those who dare to question proud and democratic projects of state. In The New York Times, that ancient luminary Ethan Bonner managed to chide me for attacking American journalists who - he furiously quoted my own words - "report in so craven a fashion from the Middle East - so fearful of Israeli criticism that they turn Israeli murder into 'targeted attacks' and illegal settlements into 'Jewish neighbourhoods'."
It was remarkable that Bonner should be so out of touch with his readers that he did not know that "craven" is the very word so many Americans apply to their grovelling newspapers (and quite probably one reason why newspaper circulations are falling so disastrously).
But the moment that a respected Democratic congressman and Vietnam war veteran in Washington dared to suggest that the war in Iraq was lost, that US troops should be brought home now - and when the Republican response was so brutal it had to be disowned - the old media dog sniffed the air, realised that power was moving away from the White House, and began to drool.
Victory in Iraq
by Steve Gilliard
The Bush Administration and their cowardly chickenhawk allies in the media, keep pretending that there is a victory osomewhere on the horizon in Iraq. The Washington Times is even dedicating their editorial page to showing "good news from Iraq".
The problem is that if there is a tipping point, it isn't in our favor.
Bob Baer, a former CIA officer, who had worked with the Kurds and other Iraqi resistance groups, was on Hardball tonight and when asked if there could be a victory, he said no. Basically, he said, the next president of Iraq was going to be fundamentalist favorite Moqtada Sadr.
Which means he's got all the smart money on him.
Why victory is impossible in Iraq?
How Bush Created a Theocracy in Iraq
By Juan Cole
The Bush administration naively believed that Iraq was a blank slate on which it could inscribe its vision for a remake of the Arab world. Iraq, however, was a witchesï¿½ brew of dynamic social and religious movements, a veritable pressure cooker. When George W. Bush invaded, he blew off the lid.
Checking the Hard Facts
Some American journalists intent on fact-checking President Bush's vision of Iraq are finding it too dangerous to inspect the areas Bush yesterday cited as models of success.
Which sort of tells you the story right there.
thanks to Brad DeLong's Website
What's Wrong With Cutting and Running?
by Gen. (ret.) William E. Odom
35mm kit addition
A new addition to the Pentax H1a.
It's a Pentax Super Multi-Coated Takumar 135/3.5. Like new. I traded a neck strap for it. Dan Snelson had some extra ones and now this one has a good home. Thanks Dan! I love it.
It also came with a lens hood and case. No strap but I think I can figure that one out. I also can get an adapter that will let me use one of my 90/2.8 Vega 12 lenses from my Salut-S on the Pentax. A close focus telephoto. That will be fun.
I will probably be linking to Joe a lot. He is a blue stater at heart from and living in a red state. He grew up in a fundamentalist home and became a blue stater liberal. He brings a different perspective of the red staters since he was once one and lives among them. His perspective is always illuminating. And he can *really* write! Take, for example this must read piece on the "Left Behind" series. Haven't heard of them? You might want to pay attention.
What the 'Left Behind' Series Really Means
That is the sophisticated language and appeal of America’s all-time best selling adult novels celebrating the ethnic cleansing of non-Christians at the hands of Christ. If a Muslim were to write an Islamic version of the last book in the Left Behind series, Glorious Appearing, and publish it across the Middle East, Americans would go beserk. Yet tens of millions of Christians eagerly await and celebrate an End Time when everyone who disagrees with them will be murdered in ways that make Islamic beheading look like a bridal shower. Jesus -- who apparently has a much nastier streak than we have been led to believe -- merely speaks and "the bodies of the enemy are ripped wide open down the middle." In the book Christians have to drive carefully to avoid "hitting splayed and filleted corpses of men and women and horses" Even as the riders’ tongues are melting in their mouths and they are being wide open gutted by God’s own hand, the poor damned horses are getting the same treatment. Sort of a divinely inspired version of "Fuck you and the horse you rode in on."
This may be some of the bloodiest hate fiction ever published, but it is also what tens of millions of Americans believe is God’s will. It is approximately what everyone in the congregation sitting around me last Sunday at my brother’s church believes. Or some version of it. How can anyone acquire and hold such notions? Answer: The same way you got yours and I got mine. Conditioning. From family and school and society, but from within a different American caste than the one in which you were raised.
Whatever the case, tens of millions of American fundamentalists, despite their claims otherwise, read and absorb the all-time best selling Left Behind book series as prophesy and fact. How could they possibly not after being conditioned all their lives to accept the End Times as the ultimate reality? We are talking about a group of Americans 20% of whose children graduate from high school identifying H2O as a cable channel. Children who, like their parents and grandparents, come from that roughly half of all Americans who can approximately read, but are dysfunctionally literate to the extent they cannot grasp any textual abstraction or overall thematic content.
And be sure to read:
Prince of a Different Peace
In an ancient rural county in West Virginia on Christmas morning, a bent old man with a face like gentle twisted wildwood will raise the American flag in the frost. Then he will go back indoors, sit down quietly amid the smells of cooking, light his pipe and dream.
My Uncle Nelson raises the flag every morning at the secluded nursing home in the hills of Morgan County, West Virginia. If anyone in this world should have that right, it is he. Because Uncle Nelson, whom we called Nels, never left Morgan County in his life. Not even once.
Go ahead, read all of his stuff. You won't be dissapointed.
medium format kit — 6x6cm
My medium format kit is complete. It consists of 6x6cm (2.25" square) and 6x9cm (2.25"x3.25") cameras. These are nice large negatives that have much more detail and tonalities than 35mm. Better quality negatives but slower to use than 35mm.
This is my Hasselbladski — a 1970s vintage Salut-S from the former Soviet Union. It's a copy of an early Hasselblad with a focal plane shutter. It doesn't have the quality of the Hasseblad but it is inexpensive. You can get good ones between $100 and $200. It's a full system camera with interchangeable lenses, viewfinders, and backs. This has the Vega 12 90mm/2.8 (57mm equivalent) and a waist level finder. Lenses and accessories are inexpensive.
I bought a second one as a backup. This is going to be my primary medium format camera and I want to make sure I will have one that works. This one has the Mir 38 65/3.5 (41mm equivalent) and the prism finder. Great for studio work and for situations where noise isn't a problem because this is one noisy camera. I love the layout and it's fun to shoot.
This is the stealth street shooter. Quite and people don't realize you are taking their picture. It's a Meopta Va with an 85/3.5 lens. Another commie camera from 1950s Czheckoslovakia. These go for around $70. A great Tessar lens. It was a TLR that got me into square.
A medium format camera that you can put into your pants pocket, an Agfa Isolette II from the 1950s. I had to do a lot of cleaning and repair on this one but I only paid $15. I recovered it in leather and freed up the stuck lens but screwed up the shutter. Andrew Yue heard of my plight and sent me a shutter that works. I think it's working fine, now. No rangefinder. You have to estimate the distance which isn't as a big a problem as some would think. Good discipline.
And no kit is complete without a box camera. This is a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash Model (flash not shown). Much more capable than one would think from a box point and shoot camera.
There will be a couple of more lenses for the Salut-S. There is a lovely 30mm (18mm equivalent) and a nice 120mm (76mm equivalent).
It's hard to tell about this one. It does make enough sense to scare the bejesus out of me.
So now we know: Next time the fire will come in Iran. The blow will be delivered by proxy, but that will not spare the true perpetrator from the firestorm of blowback and unintended consequences that will follow. Even now, the gruesome deaths of many innocent people in many lands are growing in futurity's womb.
The Rubicon of the new war was crossed on Oct. 27. Oddly enough for this renewal of the ancient enmity between the heirs of Athens and Persia, the decisive event occurred on the edge of the Arctic Circle, at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, where a Russian rocket lifted an Iranian spy satellite, the Sinah-1, into orbit. This launch, scarcely noticed at the time, has accelerated the inevitable strike on Iran's nuclear facilities: Israel is now readying an attack for no later than the end of March, The Sunday Times reports.
The order, from embattled Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, puts Israel's special forces at the "highest stage of readiness" for the strike. While Iran's plan to begin enriching uranium -- which will give it the capability of building a nuclear bomb -- is the precipitating factor, the budding Iranian space program is a "point of no return" for Sharon, and that is what is driving the actual timing of the strike. The Sinah-1 is just the first of several Iranian satellites set for Russian launches in the coming months.
Thus the Iranians will soon have a satellite network in place to give them early warning of an Israeli attack, although it will still be a pale echo of the far more powerful Israeli and American space spies that can track the slightest movement of a Tehran mullah's beard. What's more, late last month Russia signed a $1 billion contract to sell Iran an advanced defense system that can destroy guided missiles and laser-guided bombs, the Sunday Times reports. This too will be ready in the next few months.
This last week has been a tough one. Wednesday we had an MRI for Gerry. That went well. However, Zoe's chronic abdominal pain was acting up. She has these horrendous abdominal spasms. We were in the Emergency Room at 10pm. We got home after 2 in the morning and I sat with Gerry until she calmed down around 3am. Zoe blogged about it.
Gerry's Alzheimer's is getting worse. It is becoming more difficult for her to organize her thoughts and then that is compounded by her inability to articulate. It can be very difficult for her to find the right words. She will stumble over words or will say things that don't make sense. It's like talking to someone who speaks only in non sequiturs. Sometimes we can divine what she is trying to say but usually we have no clue. She is best midday and worst at night.
Zoe took Gerry up to see her doctor yesterday about a cough. All is well and he had the results of the MRI. All was well with the MRI. That is a good news bad news situation. Zoe wanted to make sure there wasn't anything wrong with her brain before looking for a home for Gerry. Now Zoe needs to make the decision she has been dreading and move Gerry to a home. All excuses are gone. It will probably happen by the end of January.
It's getting that she can't be alone. She becomes terrified at being alone and that means someone with her in her. With Zoe ill it means that she has to be with me all the time. It's getting hard to do. We will be trying to get a caregiver to come here in the evenings.
On a happy note my oldest, Jenny, and her husband, William who was in Iraq, arrived back on the Island this evening from Colorado where they are stationed at Fort Carson. I miss them and their little ones, Robyn and Evan. With both Gerry and my mom failing and having kids and grandkids back, this will be a bittersweet Christmas.