Weblog Archives




  Saturday   April 16   2005


Let Them Eat Bombs
The doubling of child malnutrition in Iraq is baffling
by Terry Jones

A report to the UN human rights commission in Geneva has concluded that Iraqi children were actually better off under Saddam Hussein than they are now.

This, of course, comes as a bitter blow for all those of us who, like George Bush and Tony Blair, honestly believe that children thrive best when we drop bombs on them from a great height, destroy their cities and blow up hospitals, schools and power stations.


The Cruel Month...
by Riverbend

Thousands were demonstrating today all over the country. Many areas in Baghdad were cut off today for security reasons and to accomodate the demonstrators, I suppose. There were some Sunni demonstrations but the large majority of demonstrators were actually Shia and followers of Al Sadr. They came from all over Baghdad and met up in Firdaws Square- the supposed square of liberation. They were in the thousands. None of the news channels were actually covering it. Jazeera showed fragments of the protests in the afternoon but everyone else seemed to busy with some other news story.


US Millions in Iraq Wasted

I saw Lewis Black, the comedian, in Detroit last month. Lewis does angry humor. But at one point he went on a rant about how you just had to look around Detroit to see how the Congress was allowing our cities to deteriorate, and he flew into a genuine rage. A little sheepish, he admitted, "That was a private moment, and I'm sorry you had to see it. Note to self: just getting mad without a joke is not cool."

It is such a shame that there is virtually nothing going on on the streets downtown Detroit in the evening. Even the Borders closes at 7 pm. A single block in Greektown and the casinos are the only exceptions, as far as downtown shops go. An entertainment venue like Cobo Hall is designed so that the suburbanites can actually exit into its parking lot from the freeway, and never have to deal with the city at all. Because Detroit fell below a million in population with the last census, it even lost a good deal of Federal aid.

The true cost of the Iraq misadventure is consistently underestimated by the Bush administration, which does not even include the extra funds in the budget deficit! They even sneak the wounded soldiers back into this country so that the public does not get an accurate sense of the war's human costs for Americans.


How many have gone to war?
Even experts are surprised at the vast numbers of U.S. soldiers who have been deployed after 9/11. Even if troop levels in Iraq are cut next year, the military may be permanently damaged.

Three and a half years have passed since U.S. bombs started falling in Afghanistan, and ever since then, the U.S. military has been engaged in combat overseas. What most Americans are probably unaware of, however, is just how many American soldiers have been deployed. Well over 1 million U.S. troops have fought in the wars since Sept. 11, 2001, according to Pentagon data released to Salon. As of Jan. 31, 2005, the exact figure was 1,048,884, approximately one-third the number of troops ever stationed in or around Vietnam during 15 years of that conflict.

More surprising is the number of troops who have gone to war since 9/11, come back home, and then were redeployed to the battle zone. Of all the troops ever sent to Iraq or Afghanistan, one-third have gone more than once, according to the Pentagon. In the regular Army, 63 percent of the soldiers have been to war at least one time, and almost 40 percent of those soldiers have gone back. The highest rate of first-time deployments belongs to the Marine Corps Reserve: Almost 90 percent have fought.


An Iraqi Potemkin Village
Bush's phony 'global democratic revolution' is failing in Iraq

As we approach the second anniversary of the "liberation" of Iraq – marked by the much-touted toppling of Saddam's statue in Baghdad's main square – a simple juxtaposition of photos reveals the utter phoniness of the American project in the Middle East. Of course, Antiwar.com was all over that particular deception as it was happening, but in revisiting it two years later, it is instructive to note that the same square was filled the other day by tens of thousands of Iraqis demanding that the U.S. leave Iraq forthwith. The myth and the reality are not merely divergent – they are completely opposed to each other in every conceivable way, and nothing illustrates this more dramatically than the rhetoric of our deluded president, who recently addressed U.S. troops in Ft. Hood, Texas:

"As the Iraq democracy succeeds, that success is sending a message from Beirut to Tehran that freedom can be the future of every nation. The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a crushing defeat to the forces of tyranny and terror, and a watershed event in the global democratic revolution."

As radical Islamists– in league with Iran – tighten their grip on Iraqi society, George W. Bush's glorious "global democratic revolution" marches on. What baloney! Our president, however, is undeterred by the facts: "The toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad will be recorded," he averred, "alongside the fall of the Berlin Wall, as one of the great moments in the history of liberty."

The toppling of the statue was a staged event, from start to finish, pulled off with tight camera angles (masking the paucity of the crowd) and the logistical and military support of American troops, who had just rolled into Baghdad. The fall of the Berlin Wall, on the other hand, was not brought about by an American invasion: it was a genuinely spontaneous revolution made possible by the German people themselves and the self-dissolution of the Communist parties of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.


 08:20 PM - link


Unconfirmed Reports


  thanks to A Botzilla Journal

 06:09 PM - link


Tomgram: Michael Klare on Blood, Oil, and Iran

As the United States gears up for an attack on Iran, one thing is certain: the Bush administration will never mention oil as a reason for going to war. As in the case of Iraq, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) will be cited as the principal justification for an American assault. "We will not tolerate the construction of a nuclear weapon [by Iran]," is the way President Bush put it in a much-quoted 2003 statement. But just as the failure to discover illicit weapons in Iraq undermined the administration's use of WMD as the paramount reason for its invasion, so its claim that an attack on Iran would be justified because of its alleged nuclear potential should invite widespread skepticism. More important, any serious assessment of Iran's strategic importance to the United States should focus on its role in the global energy equation.


 06:02 PM - link


The Internet is amazing. Before I bought my Agfa Isolette II, I googled for information on these cameras. One of the sites I found was of a photographer who used old cameras, one of which was a beautiful Agfa Isolette II

That picture was one of the reasons I decided on an Isolette II. As I've been working on my Isolette, I've often returned to the page with pictures of that camera as inspiration. This photographer also used FEDs and Zorkis from the former Soviet Union. Hmmmm. Great minds run in the same sewers. It seems he also has a 5x7 Burke and James, like I do. He was googling for B&J information and ran across my site. Thursday I received an email from him. He lives in eastern Washington, about 3 or 4 hours from Whidbey Island. Not only that but, at the end of May, he is having a show here on Whidbey Island at the Bayview Cash Store. What a small world. His name is Ken Smith.

Ken Smith
Fine Art Photography


Some wonderful images. Be sure to check out his page on vintage cameras. A nice collection and he articulates many of the same feelings I have on using these old cameras in conjuction with the latest technology of digital imagery.

Vintage Cameras

So I questioned: If I shot images with cameras made 50 or more years old, but printed the images using the newest digital printers, would the end result transcend all questions of process, and in effect, leave the issues of equipment - traditional or digital - so interwoven that the image in the frame on the wall would finally stand alone, either succeeding or failing measured by how it affected the viewer aesthetically?

It was in this philosophical quest that my interest in vintage cameras began. After visiting websites like the one of Matt Denton's, I began the daily perusals on eBay, learned to repair what I bought, and finally, started using these relics to make images. In the process I have renewed something I had lost over the years. When using the latest highly-engineered ergonomic cameras and lenses with built-in light meters and their multi-coated optics....something of the mystery has been sacrificed to reliability. The old cameras gave back that awe and mystery making me feel more a part of the total process.


He even has a Brownie Hawkeye Flash Model! What exquisite taste. Ken's wife also has some wonderful pictures.

Yuko Ishii
Fine Art and Wildlife Photography


Check out both of them. Ken and I have exchanged several emails. I read his first email right after coming up from working on my Isolette shutter. I had cleaned it out and it appeared to work but when it dried the iris sometimes wouldn't close correctly. I had soaked it again but somehow something got wrong and the shutter isn't working at all. This was very depressing and I shared my despair with Ken. He suggested I soak it again since the lighter fluid soak will fee up the crud but often it just moves it to another place. I did but there is something else wrong. Something is out of place. I'll take a printout of the picture of the shutter, when it was still working, and see it I can identify anything that is different.

It turns out that Ken has more vintage cameras than on his site, such as some Kievs and a Salyut. Oh! I must resist...I must resist. And he has discovered that the Russians built some nice large format lenses. They are barrel lenses. He picked up a new coated 300mm lense for $38 plus 9 shipping. He also recommended Sergey as an excellent eBay dealer for FSU stuff and a place to get Russian large format lenses. Check out Sergey's "Other Lens."

But wait! There's more!

Ken also sent me a link that shows a Russian view camera that uses glass plates that these Russian barrel lenses were used on. They were built up until 1987.

Experiences with the Russian FK 18×24 cm Large Format Camera



Just Like Mathew Brady

Sergey has some for sale.

My head is going to explode.

 08:47 AM - link

  Friday   April 15   2005


Oil and the Water pressure problem

So you've had your coffee, done your math homework, and now it's time to celebrate. So break out the champagne (or if you don't want to waste it, try a bottle of soda water, but open it in the sink). Like all good celebrations you shake the bottle before opening it, and champagne sprays around and everyone is cheerfully soaked. But if you then put the bottle down, you would see that the gas pressure in the wine (or soda if you are as cheap as I), has only pushed out about a third, or less, of the wine out of the bottle.

That is, sort of, what happens with an oil well. Everyone has seen the gusher that shoot up into the air in the old movies, covering the dancing hero and his girl in oil. But the pressure that pushes the oil out of the ground is like the gas in the wine, it can only push so much of the oil out of the ground and the pressure is relieved, and the oil flow stops. In many places there is not enough pressure even to start a flow, and there pumping has to be used from the beginning.


 11:39 PM - link

car art

Free Car Brochures


  thanks to The Cartoonist

 11:35 PM - link


An Economy On Thin Ice

The U.S. expansion appears on track. Europe and Japan may lack exuberance, but their economies are at least on the plus side. China and India -- with close to 40 percent of the world's population -- have sustained growth at rates that not so long ago would have seemed, if not impossible, highly improbable.

Yet, under the placid surface, there are disturbing trends: huge imbalances, disequilibria, risks -- call them what you will. Altogether the circumstances seem to me as dangerous and intractable as any I can remember, and I can remember quite a lot. What really concerns me is that there seems to be so little willingness or capacity to do much about it.

We sit here absorbed in a debate about how to maintain Social Security -- and, more important, Medicare -- when the baby boomers retire. But right now, those same boomers are spending like there's no tomorrow. If we can believe the numbers, personal savings in the United States have practically disappeared.


Our Twin Financial Puzzles: The Long Run May Come Like a Thief in the Night

The fact that nobody inside the administration is paying attention to the current drift of the economic ship of state closer to the shoals is one big reason that we need a really strong Treasury Department and a really strong Federal Reserve:


  thanks to The Agonist

 11:17 PM - link


Naomi Harris


  thanks to Photoethnography

 11:09 PM - link


Look For Media Labels

If you read newspapers, listen to the radio or watch television, you know that the media has assigned Muqtada al-Sadr a peculiar job title: radical cleric. "Gunmen fired on supporters of the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Friday," reports the Associated Press wire service. National Public Radio routinely refers to "radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr." "The protesters were largely supporters of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr," says CNN. Even Agence France-Press refers to him the same way: "Followers of a radical Shiite cleric marched in Baghdad."

I wonder: Does he answer his phone with a chipper "Muqtada al-Sadr, radical cleric!"? Does it say "radical cleric" on his business card?

It's a safe bet that neither al-Sadr nor his Iraqi supporters considers him particularly "radical." And, if you stop to think about it, there's nothing inherently extreme about wanting foreign troops to leave your country. Radical is a highly subjective word that gets thrown around without much reflection. What's more radical, invading another nation without a good excuse or trying to stop someone from doing so? But that's the problem: the media has become so accustomed to absorbing and regurgitating official government propaganda that they never stop to think.


 11:05 PM - link


William Scott


  thanks to flux+mutability

 11:03 PM - link


Tomgram: Lambert on Moral Voters

Because certain trees are sprouting in the Middle East, the world will soon end. Because the European Union has grown to its current size, fiery death and plagues of locusts are about to descend on the planet. Because Israel established a homeland, non-believers will, in a short while, suffer agonizing horrors before being damned to an eternity of pain.

And now a word from our sponsor -- a real estate agent helping Christians find their dream homes.

This summer, I joined the rush hour in San Bernardino. Every day, descending the final hill from Los Angeles into the fastest growing region in California, I tuned into Christian radio station K-Wave. The station broadcast lessons on Christ-sanctioned financial planning as well as sermons on faith-rooted marriages. But its mission of missions was to map out, just the way the Weather Channel describes approaching storm fronts, the end of the world now bearing down upon us.

The deep voice of Pastor Chuck Smith filled my car each morning. Founder of Calvary Chapel, a "mega-church" with a publishing company, Bible colleges, and franchises in every state, Pastor Chuck inspired two followers to write the best-selling Left Behind novels about the Apocalypse. Soon obsessed with the station, I started wishing my Democratic friends in L.A. would join me in K-Wave's freeway congregation.


 10:58 PM - link


Beetles (Coleoptera)


  thanks to The Cartoonist

 10:55 PM - link

  Wednesday   April 13   2005

Sharon Defies Bush
by Juan Cole

The AP headline gets it right: Sharon dismisses Bush Warning on Settlement Expansion.

I would have called it "large-scale land theft" rather than "settlement expansion," but it comes to the same thing.

Wait a second. Isn't that Ariel Sharon, whose government gets billions of dollars a year from the United States (who even gets some from your household if you are an American, whether you like it or not)? Doesn't he owe us anything?

He doesn't think so.


What the Muslims think is Really Happening in Jerusalem
by Juan Cole

The far-right Israeli extremists who demonstrated in Jerusalem were not just protesting the plan to remove Israeli colonists from Gaza, as was reported in the Western press.

Rather, they were threatening to invade the al-Aqsa Mosque. The Muslim world understood this threat as an intention to destroy the third-holiest shrine in the Islamic world.


A Palestinian Prison-State?

In peace-making, as in law, business, and other areas of life, the devil is in the details. The crux of the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is not over a Palestinian state. The ''quartet" of the Middle East road map -- Europe, Russia, the United Nations, and the United States -- all agree that a Palestinian state must emerge. Even Ariel Sharon himself, the father of the settlements and a fervent proponent of the Greater Land of Israel ideology, has come to understand the need for a Palestinian state in order to relieve Israel of the 4 million Palestinians living in the occupied territories. No, the problem is not a Palestinian state, but a viable Palestinian state.

Viability, a term found in the road map, is not a secondary issue. After almost four decades of deliberate Israeli de-development of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, the Palestinians are left today with scorched earth. No functioning economy (the Palestinians, 70 percent of whom live on less than $2 a day, are being kept alive by international relief agencies); no agriculture (since 1967 Israel has uprooted or cut down a million olive and fruit trees); no homes for the young generation (Israel has demolished 12,000 Palestinian homes since the occupation began, and refuses to issue permits to build new ones).

Two generations of Palestinians have never known freedom, only military occupation. They have been brutalized, traumatized, undereducated, and left with few skills and little hope of employment. A full 60 percent of the Palestinian population is under the age of 18.

Add to this equation the fact that the small, truncated Palestinian state that emerges will be required also to provide an infrastructure, services, employment, and a future to the thousands of refugees that will return -- Israel, with American backing, refuses to take in any refugees even though it expelled them in 1948 -- and President Bush's recent call in Brussels for a ''truly viable" Palestinian state sounds hollow. While he declared emphatically that ''A state of scattered territories will not work," his agreement to Israel's annexation of its major settlement blocs leaves one to wonder just where that viable Palestinian state will be.

One gets the impression that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is being set up for yet another ''generous offer." At the end of the Oslo process then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak was supposed to have offered 95 percent of the occupied territories to the Palestinians. It is not true (the 95 percent figure came from a Clinton proposal that both the Israelis and Palestinians accepted, but which never materialized). But even if it were, Israel needs only 5 to 15 percent of the occupied territories to retain complete control and confine the Palestinians to a prison-state. Israel could control the borders, Palestinian movement, all the water and most of the agricultural land, the Jerusalem area (which, because of tourism, represents almost half the Palestinian economy), the country's airspace, and even its communications sphere. The Palestinians could get 85 to 95 percent of the actual territory and, like inmates of a prison, still be locked into a series of cells called a ''state."


 12:40 AM - link

photographic ad art

I was going through a box of books tonight when I found a treasure. Actually, 6 treasures. Six issues of American Photography from October, 1926, to August, 1927. Some interesting ads. This one is from the August, 1927 issue.

Here is a larger image

 12:12 AM - link


Why the oil pumps can't pump harder!

The oil business is one of great complexity and there are some challenges even in trying to explain some of the basic reasons why, when price goes up, producers can't just turn a tap and pull more oil out of the underground reservoir.

I was trying to think of a way of explaining it, and offer the following, in the hope that not too many of those who know reality will be offended at the simplification.

Way back at the beginning of the current Elizabethan era it used to be fun, after dinner, to float cream on top of coffee. I still do it when the cream is of the right sort, and it gives the coffee a different taste. Putting the cream over the coffee is a bit of a challenge, you start by using the back of a spoon, and when you get better pour it down the side of the cup.

So now we have quarter of an inch of cream floating, unmixed, on top of the coffee. This can be very simply considered to be the oil floating on an underground pool of water in the porous rock underground . Now take a straw, put it into the cream and try and remove it without sucking up any coffee. If you suck gently you might be able to get a lot of the cream up, especially if you bend the straw to run across the top of the cup. But if you suck too hard then you not only pull the coffee into the straw and can't get any more cream from that particular place, but you also mix up the cream around that point into the coffee, and you lose the chance to recover that cream later. Separating the cream from the much larger amount of coffee beneath it is not really an option.

Oil is somewhat the same, in that, if you try pulling it out of the ground too fast, you can cause changes in the flow pattern that drop the total amount you can get out from any one well, and the immediately surrounding rock, pretty severely.


This is from an oil blog that looks like it might be worth following: The Oil Drum

 12:02 AM - link

shutter repair

I did do a little more disassembly of the Agfa Isolette II. I removed the faceplate of the shutter and drowned it in lighter fluid. I had a deep consultation with Blaine on this and he assured me that, while there are those that claim this is not a permanent fix or that this, according to all the finest camera repairmen, is an abomination, soaking it in lighter fluid could loosen things up, either for a temporary period of time, or as a long term solution, and that I wouldn't really be making it any worse than it already was, which would be useable, albeit only with the fast speeds since the slow speeds (1/10 second through 1 second) totally sucked.

This is the shutter soaking in lighter fluid. After leaving it in the magic cleaning solution for several hours, I blew it out and voila! The slow shutter speads work. It's a miracle!

 12:01 AM - link

  Tuesday   April 12   2005

civil war

The end of treason

Today is the 140th anniversary of Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, which essentially ended the American Civil War.

As a (white) child growing up in the Deep South in the 1950s and 1960s, I looked forward in history class to the tale of the Appomattox surrender, because it marked the end of the interminable period of time we spent studying--or more accurately, saturating ourselves in--the War Between the States each year. Indeed, such was the extent of our wallowing in the Confederacy that we rarely made it past World War I in American history.

Far beyond elementary school, in the broader southern white culture I grew up in, there was an odd exultancy about Appomattox that had nothing to do with vicarious relief at the end of that brutal war. No, we drank in the details of Lee's peerless dress and manner at the moment of surrender, and were encouraged to think of the shabby Grant's generosity in victory as little more than the acknowledgement of a superior being--and a superior, if Lost, Cause. A Cause, moreover, that was about everything other than the ownership of human beings--about states' rights, about agrarian resistance to capitalism, about cultured Cavaliers defending civilization against philistine Puritans, about Honor, about Duty.

And that was the essence of Confederate Nostalgia in those days: a cult of romantic defeat, denial, self-pity and pride. I never quite shared it, even as a child, but never quite understood its pathological depths until its mirror images in Serbian and (some parts of) Arab culture became part of world events in more recent years. And remarkably, I get the sense Confederate Nostalgia is not only surviving, but perhaps even reviving among people too young to know its nature and political usages.

So now, in many heated conversations with my fellow white southerners--and occasionally with Yankees who've been caught up by the Romance in Grey--I find myself insisting on an acknowledgement of the reality of the Confederacy, and its consequences for our home region

It was an armed revolution led by a planter class that could not tolerate restrictions on the "right" to transfer its human property into the territories.


Also read Steve Gilliard's comments. We view too much of our history through the fiction of Hollywood. The bottom line is that Lee was a traitor and so were all those that seceded from the Union.

 02:13 AM - link

agfa apart

The Agfa Isolette II is apart. at least as apart as I intend to take it. The three lens elements are out of the shutter. The first and second element are stuck together but I have my ways. I'm going to try soaking the shutter in lighter fluid to see if it will free up the slow speeds. Now to find an appropriate bowl...

 02:04 AM - link


The Crusaders
Christian evangelicals are plotting to remake America in their own image

It's February, and 900 of America's staunchest Christian fundamentalists have gathered in Fort Lauderdale to look back on what they accomplished in last year's election -- and to plan what's next. As they assemble in the vast sanctuary of Coral Ridge Presbyterian, with all fifty state flags dangling from the rafters, three stadium-size video screens flash the name of the conference: reclaiming america for christ. These are the evangelical activists behind the nation's most effective political machine -- one that brought more than 4 million new Christian voters to the polls last November, sending George W. Bush back to the White House and thirty-two new pro-lifers to Congress. But despite their unprecedented power, fundamentalists still see themselves as a persecuted minority, waging a holy war against the godless forces of secularism. To rouse themselves, they kick off the festivities with "Soldiers of the Cross, Arise," the bloodthirstiest tune in all of Christendom: "Seize your armor, gird it on/Now the battle will be won/Soon, your enemies all slain/Crowns of glory you shall gain."

Meet the Dominionists -- biblical literalists who believe God has called them to take over the U.S. government. As the far-right wing of the evangelical movement, Dominionists are pressing an agenda that makes Newt Gingrich's Contract With America look like the Communist Manifesto. They want to rewrite schoolbooks to reflect a Christian version of American history, pack the nation's courts with judges who follow Old Testament law, post the Ten Commandments in every courthouse and make it a felony for gay men to have sex and women to have abortions. In Florida, when the courts ordered Terri Schiavo's feeding tube removed, it was the Dominionists who organized round-the-clock protests and issued a fiery call for Gov. Jeb Bush to defy the law and take Schiavo into state custody. Their ultimate goal is to plant the seeds of a "faith-based" government that will endure far longer than Bush's presidency -- all the way until Jesus comes back.

"Most people hear them talk about a 'Christian nation' and think, 'Well, that sounds like a good, moral thing,' says the Rev. Mel White, who ghostwrote Jerry Falwell's autobiography before breaking with the evangelical movement. "What they don't know -- what even most conservative Christians who voted for Bush don't know -- is that 'Christian nation' means something else entirely to these Dominionist leaders. This movement is no more about following the example of Christ than Bush's Clean Water Act is about clean water."


 01:52 AM - link

the red fed

Once I started looking at what was available for putting new covers on cameras I knew I had to have a red FED. It is a commie camera. Getting the pseudo-imitation-red-lizard-skin-real-dead-cow cover for a trade was a score. Actually, Aki Asahi only charges $14 for FED 2 covers, including shipping. Getting the old vulcanite off was a chore but the results were more than worth it! It's not subtle. With it's new clothes I had to take a set of pictures will all the accessories.

Before, with the dull, black vulcanite. Just like millions of other FEDs. Vulcanite is a plastic with a textured surface that is bonded on.

With the collapsible Industar 50 50/3.5 lens. This is the default lens for this camera. This is the Mark II version of my wrist strap. I added the o-ring to adjust the loop size. Works great. I'm thinking of making and selling them for $15, including shipping. I take PayPal. Email me.

With the Jupiter 8 50/2 lens. My low light lens or when I need a little extra sharpness. At least to me, the chrome lenses look better with the red covering. I've got a silver Jupiter 8 I will have to get back together and try with this camera.

With the Jupiter 9 85/2.

With the Jupiter 12 35/2.8.

The back. Duh!

I have a second FED 2 that needs some repair work. I think that one will be green with red lettering. Although I am sorely tempted by Japanesque Gold (Polyurethane). And you thought the red was flashy! I plan on repairing my Leica IIIc. I'm not sure if or how I will cover that.

 01:47 AM - link