Weblog Archives




  Tuesday   March 7   2006

book recommendation

Atget was the first street photographer. We have visions of street photographers with small 35mm cameras moving and shooting. Atget used an 18x24cm (roughly 8x10 inches) view camera and documented Paris 100 years ago. He didn't see himself as an artist but as a documentarian. But what documents! Atget is one of my favorite photographers and a personal inspiration. He used a very simple tool and create an amazing body of work. This book is 788 pages of amazing photographs. The quality isn't as good as some other books but nothing else has the number of images in this book. Pictures of another world.

 11:40 PM - link

book recommendation

This is the book on street photography. Sometimes you think a book will be bigger and are dissapointed when there aren't as many pages as you thought there should be. That's not the case here. It weighs in at 440 pages. Lots of pictures and text to put those pictures in a historical context. Photographers such as Atget, Stieglitz, Cartier-Bresson, Brassaï, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Robert Frank, and Garry Winogrand plus many more. Essential reading for street photography. Unfortunately, it is no longer in print. The good news is that there are a lot of used ones out there that can be had for under $15. It was $35 new. And if you are accosted by angry people who don't like their picture being taken, or Homeland Security agents, while you are out photographing in the street, you can through this book at them. That'll slow them down while you make your escape.

 10:55 PM - link

  Sunday   March 5   2006

give us this day our daily image

girl meets exotica

gordy's image archive index

It's been awhile since I've posted a picture. I'm starting to shoot more. I have the Leica, Zorki, and Canon loaded with film and the Salut-S gets film tomorrow. This is another picture added to the ferry series.

 09:23 PM - link



Arthur Silber has written a very compelling series of posts featuring Barbara Tuchman's "The March of Folly" in several different contexts and it led me to go back and read it. It's an amazing analysis of a certain kind of willful governmental stupidity borne of hubris, mental laziness and bad judgment, and it's quite clear that we are seeing it being carried out right before our eyes. She defined "folly" this way:

To qualify as folly for this inquiry, the policy adopted must meet three criteria: it must have been perceived as counter-productive in its own time, not merely by hindsight. This is important, because all policy is determined by the mores of its age. "Nothing is more unfair," as an English historian has well said, "than to judge men of the past by the ideas of the present. Whatever may be said of morality, political wisdom is certainly ambulatory." To avoid judging by present-day values, we must take the opinion of the time and investigate only those episodes whose injury to self-interest was recognized even by contemporaries.

Secondly a feasible alternative course of action must have been available. To remove the problem from personality, a third criterion must be that the policy in question should be that of a group, not an individual ruler, and should persist beyond any one political lifetime. Misgovernment by a single sovereign or tyrant is too frequent and too individual to be worth a generalized inquiry. Collective government or a succession of rulers in the same office, as in the case of the Renaissance popes, raises a more significant problem.

Certainly, the first two criteria apply in spades. It's that last, that got my attention. In order for the current quagmire to be truly considered folly it must persist beyond any one political lifetime. In my view it already has.


Digby refers to Barbara Tuchman's "The March of Folly". I read it years ago. She described several governmental follies ending with Vietnam. Were she alive today she would be able to add a new chapter titled "Iraq." If you want a better understanding of what is going on do read Barbara Tuchman's "The March of Folly." Here are links to Arthur Silber's series:

Walking into the Iran Trap

Part I: A Decision of Policy -- and the Intelligence Won't Matter

Part II: The Folly of Intervention

Part III: Mythic War, and Endless Enemies

Part IV: The National Myth that Sustains Us -- and Its Inevitable Racism

Part V: Flashback: Endless War, and the Destructive Search for "Meaning"

Part VI: Messianic Zealotry as Foreign Policy -- "Our Children Will Sing Great Songs..."

Conclusion (A): Folly Marches On -- and Seeking a New Direction

 08:41 PM - link

photography/civil rights

Birmingham Gets New Look at Past

Previously unpublished photographs from the civil rights era were discovered in an equipment closet at the Birmingham News and appeared for the first time Sunday in a special section of the newspaper.


  thanks to DANGEROUSMETA!

Unseen. Forgotten

May 3-9, 1963: Youths are pummeled by water from a fire hose during a Children's Crusade demonstration in downtown Birmingham.


I remember, as a kid, watching these scenes with the water hoses on TV.

 07:06 PM - link


Why we need to leave Iraq ASAP-from someone who is over there.

For the record, I'm actually on leave from Iraq. But if you think I'm going to post this from an internet room at my base's MWR, you're freakin' nuts. I've worried about Bush tapping those lines long before we found out he was tapping phones without a warrant in the good old US of A.


  thanks to Steve Gilliard's News Blog

The Troops Want to End Iraq Occupation in 2006

A recent Zogby poll of 944 US soldiers in Iraq reported that 72% thought all troops should withdraw this year. The views of the troops differ markedly from those of their commander-in-chief, and the administration; only 23% wanted to “stay-the-course”. The troops views, however, concur with those of the foreign policy establishment, e.g., General William Odom, former national security advisors Brent Scowcroft, Zbignew Brezinski, and see: http://democracyrising.us/content/view/359/151/. It is not surprising that liberal experts would favor withdrawal, since they viewed the invasion as a strategic error, but many conservative pundits, who initially favored the invasion, have now recognized it as a failure, with a trillion dollar cost, that is increasingly problematic for both Middle East stability and worldwide American credibility. The hostilities in Iraq are thought to greatly increase the risk of terror attacks elsewhere according to a BBC poll of 41,000 people in 35 countries.


Ex-Official: Iraq Abuses Growing Worse

Human rights abuses in Iraq are as bad now as they were under Saddam Hussein, as lawlessness and sectarian violence sweep the country, the former U.N. human rights chief in Iraq said Thursday.


  thanks to Huffington Post

Wishful Thinking in Iraq

If wishes were horses, Bush could ride off into the sunset of his second term secure in the knowledge of a democratic Iraq and a middle East remade. Since they're not, he's just going to have to rely upon enablers like Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff Gen. Peter Pace, who continues to insist that all is hunky-dory in Iraq.


 06:29 PM - link


This 45 minute film is well worth watching.

Pretty Dyana - A Gypsy recycling saga

An intimate look at Gypsy refugees in Belgrade suburb who make a living by transfoming Citroen's classic 2cv and Dyana cars into Mad Max-like recycling vehicles, with which they ollect cardoard, bottles and scrap metal. These modern horses are much more efficient than the cart-pushing competition, but more important - they also mean freedom, hope and style for their crafty owners. Even the car batteries are used as power generators in order to get some light, watch tv and recharge mobiles! Almost an alchemist's dream come true! But the police doesn't allways find these strange vehicles funny..


  thanks to Blaine England

 05:46 PM - link

Helena Cobban at Just World News is still reporting from Israel/Palestine. Great stuff. Here is a piece in Salon.

Who is the real Hamas?
Now that it's in power, will the militant Palestinian group accept Israel's legitimacy in exchange for land? Or is it hiding a dedication to the Jewish state's destruction behind media-savvy spin?

The decisive victory of the militant Islamic group Hamas in the Palestinians' Jan. 25 elections stunned just about everyone involved in Palestinian affairs and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Hamas' victory raises a host of questions, but it is clearly one of the most significant developments in decades in this debilitating and frequently lethal conflict, which even more than the war in Iraq remains the greatest source of anger and misunderstanding between the U.S. and the Arab/Muslim world. As a long-standing observer of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with many close contacts among players on both sides, I wanted to see for myself how Hamas' triumph was playing out. To find out, I embarked on a 20-day reporting trip to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.


She has many worthwhile posts in her weblog:

Tel Aviv etc.

... This morning I had meetings with two really nice, really smart Israeli guys whom I've known for many years. Each meeting was set up in a cafe in a different shopping mall in a different part of North Tel Aviv. Driving out to these meetings-- especiaslly the first one--was unbelievable! Mile upon mile upon mile of enormous, extremely lavish-looking apartment buildings and cranes hanging over the horizon at every aspect building yet more of the same.

Who on earth can afford to live in all these super-luxury apartments? What companies have the capital to invest in such mammoth-sized projects? This country has become so unbelievably wealthy since Yasser Arafat's conclusion of the Oslo Accords with them in 1993 opened the door to much wider trade and investment relations with Europe and (especially) the "tiger" economies of East Asia! But for the poor old Palestinians themselves, meanwhile, Oslo brought almost nothing but further land-exprorpriations, further represssion, the deliberate fragmentation by the Israelis of much of the West Bank, continued economic dependence, insult, injury, and and penury...

Before Oslo-- even at the height of the first intifada-- Palestinians could come and go between East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank fairly easily, could come and go between Jerusalem and Gaza fairly easily. Actually, during nearly the whole of that first intifada, 1987-93, East Jerusalem was the bubbling hub of the intifada's entire nationwide organizing effort.

But then immediately after Oslo the Israeli campaign to strangle Jerusalem off from the rest of the West Bank really got underway in earnest. I was there in 1995 and saw the process near its beginning. Poor old Faisal Husseini, the late leader of the Jerusalem Palestinian community, an extremely decent and hard-pressed man, was tearing his hair out in frustration... Not only because of what he saw the Israelis doing every day there before his eyes but also because of his sense that Yasser Arafat really didn't have a clue about what was happening to Palestinian Jerusalem. (One of the things that was happeninbg was that much of the land owned by Jerusalem's historic Husseini family, of which Faisal was the heir, had been designated by the Israelis as a "nature zone" area, so first of all Faisal's family was forbidden to build anything on it, and then the Israeli government expropriated it completely. Just a few years after that, guess what, the "nature zone" designation was lifted and an entire settlement for ultra-Orthdox Jews was built on it. So much for protecting the environment, eh?)


Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Walls

So anyway, I'm walking along and I see a rather interesting-looking structure beside the promenade. (The road by now has veered away from us. There's quite an expans of tough-looking grass right here.) So this structure looks like an old Arab stone house (arches, etc) that has fallen into some desuetude and then had an entire sqaur-ish glass-and-steel structure put on top of it. I'm intrigued and go closer. A sign announces it's a little museum called the "Etzel Museum". Okay, I still don't know what Etzel is-- maybe it's the name of the building? Maybe the name of a famous painter whose works are featured here? Who knows? I fork over my 10 shekels for the entry fee and then it suddenly dawns on me: Etzel is the Hebrew acronym for the Irgun Zvai Leumi-- the infamous militant ("terrorist") Zionist group that incubated Menachem Begin and the whole of the Likud Party. And this is their museum! (Actually, as I learned later, just one branch of a larger museum they have elsewhere in town.)

So this is really interesting. Quite apart from the fact that I've been making quite a bit of a study of how it is that, as and after conflicts wind down, the affected societies choose to memorialize them, particularly through built memorials and museums. But the Irgun, for goodness sake! And to come upon this place quite by chance at a time when many in Israel have been calling on Abu Mazen to organize his own "Altalena". Altalena was a boat full of weapons (from France) that the Irgun had been bringing in to Palestine at the time of the fighting in 1948. David Ben-Gurion, the head of the biggest Zionist organization (the forerunners of the Labour Party) demanded that the Irgun hand over thte weapons to the unified Haganah fighting forces. The Irgun refused, and Ben Gurion seized control of the boat by force. (This was just a little bit north of here, I think.) There were a number of fatalities in that fighting, even.... So that was their big moment of bringing all the fighting forces under the command of the central state. It's certainly worth noting that Ben Gurion didn't take that step until one month after the British had withdrawn and the Zionist had celebrated the foundation of their independent state. But now, people have been wanting Abu Mazen (and before him, Yasser Arafat) to "take on" the militants in Palestinian society long before the Palestinians have even the tiniest little piece of actual sovereign independence-- or even, any guarantee at all that sovereign independence is on its way...

So, the Etzel Museum. Established, I believe, with the help of the Ministry of Defence Museum Unit. My (American) tax dollars at work! At work, moreover, glorifying and memorializing the actions of a group of people who took lethal violent actions against both Palestinian civilians (in Deir Yassin, and elsewhere-- as fulsomely celebrated in this museum) and against British troops. Indeed, there in one corner of the museum is mockingly displayed the "Wanted" poster issued by the British for the entire leadership of the Irgun after they kdinaped and hanged two British Army sergeants.


Coming to Gaza

That gate wheezes shut. I am penned in between the two sets of gates. I look around for another call button, but this time, before I find it the second gate starts to push automatically open at the command of well-hidden hands. After that one, there is another kink in the tunnel. But I am immediately assailed by a young man pushing a very primitive cart who insists on hoisting my wheelie bag and shoulder bag onto the cart. We walk on along additional pastel-tinted expanses of tunnel. The porter, who is Palestinian, kicks at some of the trash on the floor. "See this?" he says. "Israelis! Dirty, dirty! Wait till you see the Palestinian side."

When we do get to the "Palestinian" section of the tunnel there's another bend in the walkway, and the construction of the tunnel changes markedly. Now, the walls are less tall, and the pastel-colored canvases have been replaced by corrugated tin roofing. And yes, the floor does look as though it has recently been swept, though to be honest there's so much dust all around here that the only way to keep a concrete floor like this really clean would be to give it a good go-over with water and a squeegee, which evidently has not been done here. Seventy yards or so of walking along the "Palestinian" tunnel brings me to their checkpoint. I am directed to, I think, the women's section: two middle-aged women with broad Gazawi smiles and hijab scarves sitting in a small room behind a counter. One of them registers my passport number. "Ameriki?" she says. "Welcome to Balestine." And that's it. Here I am in Gaza.

Later, I'm sitting at lunch in a restaurant overlooking the fishing harbor that serves-- you guessed!-- absolutely fabulous fish. Little yellow boats are bobbing in the harbor. Some boys are having fun riding past on one of the donkey-carts that is still a major means of transportation around the Strip. My friends the parliamentarian Ziad Abu Amr and the psychiatrist Iyad Sarraj are talking about the stress and strain of living in Gaza, and making various assessments of the national political situation. I haven't seen Iyad for many years. I haven't been to Gaza for nearly four years; haven't seen Ziad for two years... I listen avidly and put in the occasional question.


Weekend Haaretz

One of the interesting things about being in Israel is to be able to read the paper versions of English-language Ha'Aretz and the Jerusalem Post... However good it is to read content on-line, still, there's something special about newsprint!

The weekend edition of H'Aretz, which came out yesterday, had a number of really interesting articles:

This well-researched piece by Akiva Eldar, which is worth reading in full, tells us about the failure of the government to live up to its commitment to destroy settlement outposts that were constructed not just-- as all Israeli settlements in the occupied territories have been-- in clear contravention of international law but also, in contravention of Israel's own laws about such construction activities.


Discussions in Gaza

I've had some interesting conversations since coming here. Yesterday I conducted an interview with Ghazi Hamad, the managing editor of the Hamas weekly, Al-Resalah. (Here's their online edition.) Today I interviewed two of the six newly elected Hamas women MPs, Jamila Shanty and Mariam Farhat (Um Nidal). I also interviewed Khaled Abdel-Shafi, the head of the UN Development Program's Gaza office.


 05:39 PM - link

return on investment

Maximizing your ROI at Pizza Hut

Like the salad served at the Pizza Hut but dislike the idea that it’s expensive and you are not allowed to take more than once? Here is a guide on how you can maximize your return of investment, invented by some creative Taiwanese students.


  thanks to J-Walk Blog

 04:49 PM - link


National Security Conservatives and the Polls: BushCo. Disaster

The point here is not to argue the merits of the Dubai ports deal, but rather to place the business deal in the context of the U.S. grand strategy. That strategy is, again, to split the Islamic world into its component parts, induce divisions by manipulating differences, and to create coalitions based on particular needs. This is, currently, about the only strategy the United States has going for it -- and if it can't use commercial relations as an inducement in the Muslim world, that is quite a weapon to lose.

The problem has become political, and stunningly so. One of the most recent opinion polls, by CBS, has placed Bush's approval rating at 34 percent -- a fairly shocking decline, and clearly attributable to the port issue. As we have noted in the past, each party has a core constituency of about 35-37 percent. When support falls significantly below this level, a president loses his ability to govern.


As I recall, Nixon went down to 27% before he resigned. Bush has almost three more years to get there. Not far to go. I'm sure he'll be able to manage it.

 04:39 PM - link


abandonments. decay. industrial mayhem.


  thanks to Ken Smith

I love ruins. Seattle used to have a great set of ruins at the gas works. I used to steal into it in the early 1960s to make drawings when I was going to the College of Architecture at the U of W. In the early 1970s I stole into to make photographs. Now it's a park. A nice park but most of the ruins have been painted. We have some nice ruins her on Whidbey Island. They are called Fort Casey. It was an Army artillery installation contolling access to Puget Sound. It was built 100 years ago. Now it is also a park but the concrete revetments are still there. I want to take some black and white pictures with the view camera. Maybe some color with the Salut-S.

 04:32 PM - link

health care

The Health Care Crisis and What to Do About It

Thirteen years ago Bill Clinton became president partly because he promised to do something about rising health care costs. Although Clinton's chances of reforming the US health care system looked quite good at first, the effort soon ran aground. Since then a combination of factors—the unwillingness of other politicians to confront the insurance and other lobbies that so successfully frustrated the Clinton effort, a temporary remission in the growth of health care spending as HMOs briefly managed to limit cost increases, and the general distraction of a nation focused first on the gloriousness of getting rich, then on terrorism—have kept health care off the top of the agenda.

But medical costs are once again rising rapidly, forcing health care back into political prominence. Indeed, the problem of medical costs is so pervasive that it underlies three quite different policy crises. First is the increasingly rapid unraveling of employer- based health insurance. Second is the plight of Medicaid, an increasingly crucial program that is under both fiscal and political attack. Third is the long-term problem of the federal government's solvency, which is, as we'll explain, largely a problem of health care costs.

The good news is that we know more about the economics of health care than we did when Clinton tried and failed to remake the system. There's now a large body of evidence on what works and what doesn't work in health care, and it's not hard to see how to make dramatic improvements in US practice. As we'll see, the evidence clearly shows that the key problem with the US health care system is its fragmentation. A history of failed attempts to introduce universal health insurance has left us with a system in which the government pays directly or indirectly for more than half of the nation's health care, but the actual delivery both of insurance and of care is undertaken by a crazy quilt of private insurers, for-profit hospitals, and other players who add cost without adding value. A Canadian-style single-payer system, in which the government directly provides insurance, would almost surely be both cheaper and more effective than what we now have. And we could do even better if we learned from "integrated" systems, like the Veterans Administration, that directly provide some health care as well as medical insurance.

The bad news is that Washington currently seems incapable of accepting what the evidence on health care says. In particular, the Bush administration is under the influence of both industry lobbyists, especially those representing the drug companies, and a free-market ideology that is wholly inappropriate to health care issues. As a result, it seems determined to pursue policies that will increase the fragmentation of our system and swell the ranks of the uninsured.


  thanks to Eschaton

 04:00 PM - link


Here are a couple of pictures of HomePlace where we moved Zoe's mom, Gerry. That's Gerry in the salmon colored top in the middle sitting with a caregiver. The place is divided into three large rooms, which they call pods. This is the front of Gerry's pod. It looks out onto a grass courtyard. The residents can go outside but they can only leave the courtyard by coming back into this pod or the other pod on the courtyard. The front of the room extends to the left of the picture almost as much as in this picture. There is a TV there. In the lower right corner is the beginning of the dining area.

Turning around we see the rest of the room. Behind the eating tables is the kitchen/caregiver's station surrounded by a low wall. The resident's rooms are all around the large room. Just to the right of the kitchen/caregiver's station is an open door with sunlight coming in. That's Gerry's room.

 03:55 PM - link

maybe we need more than a little change

Bob, at Politics in the Zeros is farther left than most but he has some very valid points.


Don’t get me wrong, there’s many sincere reformists trying bring about change. Whether it’s organizations like DailyKos who believe the Democratic Party can be reformed, or tilting further leftward, groups like Democracy Now and Media Channel, they present lots of analysis, some advocacy, but rarely calls to action.

Plus, they bizarrely assume our current political crisis is just some kind of terrible misunderstanding, that they just need to convince the rulers of the errors of their ways, then things will be peachy. As if one day Dick Cheney will call up Amy Goodman and say, “Democracy Now has made me see the light, I will repent and do no more evil, the troops are coming home now.” Ain’t gonna happen that way, of course. Worse, reformists never challenge the structure of the system. That’s because they have no real criticism of the system and its institutions. Oh, they say, a few things have gone wrong, but government is our friend and supports the people, we just need to make the system responsive again.

This would be the same system that has invaded other countries for decades, exploits the Third World, where a tiny few get richer while the rest get poorer. This isn’t a system that needs a few Band-Aids, this is a system that needs replacing.


Democratic non-opposition

Pathetic, aren’t they? Congressional Democrats aren’t even pretending to object to the neocon agenda any more. When even alleged liberals like Boxer and Kennedy vote for the freedom-hating Patriot Act, well, it’s time to replace all of them with those who will genuinely represent the people. The people clearly are opposed to the war, the spying, and the erosion of liberties while the multimillionaires in
Congress are not. It’s a class thing.

The ruling class is moving sharply rightward while the people continue to move to the left. The pendulum is swinging leftwards again, a new period of radicalization has just started in the country.


What is a radical…

From Lefti

A liberal is someone who thinks the problem is the people controlling the system. A radical is someone who thinks the problem is the system controlling the people.

My corollary:

Liberals say the problem is a rogue president, radicals say the problem is a rogue system.


 02:49 PM - link

acquisitions — temporary and permanent

Of course it can be said that all acquisitions are temporary but some are just more temporary than others. Thursday I had a wonderful lunch with Leo. Leo is a fellow addict follower of Rangefinder Forum and a participant in the Pass the Camera project where a camera is sent around the world to Rangefinder Forum members. Each member shoots a roll, posts pictures to the Pass the Camera gallery, and then passes the camera on to the next one on the list. Leo had the camera last and gave it to me at Toby's in Coupeville (over a pint of Red Hook ESB and a pound of mussels grown right up the street at Penn Cove.) Here is the camera:

It's a Canon Canonet GIII QL17. It's a fixed lens but it has a reputation has a very excellent lens. It's 40mm which is slightly wide angle and a nice focal length. And it's a fast f1.7. It's really a wonderful camera and if someone wanted a film camera with only one lens this would be very hard to beat. They can be had on eBay for under $50 if you are a patient. This camera has been to Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, France, UK, Republic of Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Columbia and now the US. I am the second one in the US. Check out the Pass the RF, where are you? thread and the Pass the Camera Gallery. Here is a picture from that gallery by Manolo Gozales in the UK:

The little Canon now winds it way through the US and then Canada. Friday I received two packages with repaired cameras. My Salut_S with the shutter I jammed now unjammed and ready for some shooting. The other package was my Zorki 3M which is now all back together again.

Not as nicely finished as my Leica but what a lovely large viewfinder. At first I thought something was wrong, that is was showing a telephoto view but it's just that I've been shooting with the 35mm for too long now. Here it is with my other 35mm rangefinders.

My Leica IIIc on the right with the 35/2.8 Jupiter 12 which wants to live there permanently and who am I to argue? I've been agonizing over adding a 28mm lens or maybe a 25mm lens but I think I'm going to stop with the 35mm for my rangefinders. Part of it is cost. Going wider will run $150 to $200 and I think the type of wider shots I might want to do would be better on a SLR. And a bargain 28mm lens, at KEH, for my Pentaxes can be had for $27. On the left is the Zorki 3M with my late 50/2 Jupiter 8. Lovely lens but I want an earlier tabbed J8 for it and one is on the way from Prague with a Zorki 4 as a body cap that I traded for two camera straps. A little cleaning and it should fit right in with my other tabbed 50s — the 50/3.5 Industar 50 and 50/2 Summitar,which still needs a CLA. In the middle is the Red FED 2 with the 85/2 Jupiter 9. The lens is stiff from old grease but I think I will attempt to relube it myself. Kim Coxon has some nice pages on lens disassembly. First I will try to get a J8 back together that I took apart over a year ago. If that is successfull then on to the J9. The Leica now lives in my right coat pocket and the Zorki in my left.

 01:23 PM - link