Weblog Archives




  Friday   September 30   2005

zen for the day

3. Is That So?

The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbours as one living a pure life.

A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child.

This made her parents angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.

In great anger the parent went to the master. "Is that so?" was all he would say.

After the child was born it was brought to Hakuin. By this time he had lost his reputation, which did not trouble him, but he took very good care of the child. He obtained milk from his neighbours and everything else he needed.

A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth - the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fishmarket.

The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back.

Hakuin was willing. In yielding the child, all he said was: "Is that so?"


 10:30 PM - link


Dr. Bush and Mr. Hyde:
The Fundamentalist Shadow of George W. Bush

“How do you find a lion that has swallowed you?” asked Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, commenting on the moral dilemma posed by the “shadow,” his insightful term for the dark, hidden side of the human psyche. The answer to Jung’s questions is “you can’t find or see that lion”—not as long as you are inside the beast. And therein resides the essential dilemma of a group’s dark side or shadow: it is nearly impossible for those caught inside a group’s belief system to see their own dark side with any clarity or objectivity. This hidden side grows over time, regressing, becoming more and more aggressive. It’s the “long bag we drag behind us,” says poet Robert Bly—where, as individuals, we dispose of all those things that are too uncomfortable to look at. “The long-repressed shadow of Dr. Jekyll rises up in the shape of Mr. Hyde, deformed, an ape-like figure glimpsed against the alley wall.”[1] Now imagine millions of Mr. Hydes and you have a sense of the group shadow of fundamentalist, right wing extremists dressed up as “compassionate conservatives,” led by George W. Bush. It’s like shifting from a hand gun to a nuclear bomb. And it began long ago in both the Moslem and Christian worlds.

The invasion of American Democratic institutions by fundamentalist, historically militant (as in crusades,[*] witch hunts, inquisitions, and support of slavery) Christianity has significantly increased the stench coming from the already disturbing dark side of U.S. politics. It’s like a nightmarish replay of the Christian crusades—politics with a militant, convert-the-heathens dark side. Potent, cult-like group dynamics combine with unacknowledged and unseen shadow qualities to easily overwhelm the individual’s sense of right and wrong, often unleashing pure evil en masse.


  thanks to Bad Attitudes

 10:23 PM - link


The A59 photographer
Dr Lindy Grant of the Conway Library on the artistry and itinerary of an unknown traveller and master photographer

In 1897, he visited Quebec, in 1900, he sailed up the Nile: in 1903 it was Andalusia, in 1904 Boston and New York, in 1906, Canada and Scandinavia, in 1909, Venice, Vienna, Budapest and Yugoslavia. He went often to France, and more than once to Spain. In 1911, he went to the West Indies; in 1912, Rome and Moscow; in 1913, Belgium and Holland - and Tunis and Carthage....then the Great War interrupted his travels.

He began again as soon as possible: Switzerland, untouched by war, in 1919; but then devastated Ypres and Nieuport in 1921. In the 1920s he got into his stride again - Sicily, Greece and Istanbul in 1922; Tunis in 1923, Spain and Switzerland in 1924 - taking two trips a year most years, it would seem, until 1934, when he went to Sweden. After that, nothing...


 10:17 PM - link


Apartheid America
Jonathan Kozol rails against a public school system that, 50 years after Brown v. Board of Education, is still deeply -- and shamefully -- segregated.

"Segregation is not something that happens by chance, like weather conditions," says Jonathan Kozol. "It is the work of men." So it is not without irony that it has taken a hurricane -- and the excruciating images of stranded black faces, beamed across cable airwaves -- for Americans to confront the reality that vast numbers of their fellow citizens live in segregated ghettos and suffer from abject poverty. But for Kozol, who has built his career on exposing the race- and class-based injustices endemic to the United States' educational system, the knowledge that we live in a deeply divided society has long been a foregone -- if heartbreaking -- conclusion.

For 40 years, in bestselling books such as "Savage Inequalities" and "Amazing Grace," Kozol has reported from urban schools across the nation, befriending teachers and students who, despite the promises of Brown v. Board of Education, still live and learn in crumbling buildings and in overcrowded classrooms with scarce supplies. "I cannot discern even the slightest hint that any vestige of [the Brown decision] has survived within these schools and neighborhoods," he writes in his new book, "The Shame of the Nation." "I simply never see white children."


I've read Kozol before. This interview and the book should be read.

 10:09 PM - link


'His eyebrows told us when the solos would end'
Jimi Hendrix's legendary Woodstock performance is at last available in full. Robert Sandall savours the moment

For once, "legendary" really is the word. The performance by Jimi Hendrix and his band that closed Woodstock in 1969 has been cited as one of the highlights of the festival, of Hendrix's career, of the decade, you name it.

His feedback-wracked solo rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner was described by the rock critic of the New York Post as "the single greatest moment of the 1960s".

The fact that this epoch-defining blast of sound was only witnessed by a bleary-eyed fraction of the 800,000 crowd who made the trek to Yasgur's farm in upstate New York seems, if anything, to have burnished the legend.

Thanks to a weekend of overruns, most had left by the time Hendrix arrived on stage nine hours late on the Monday morning. The movie Woodstock, which featured a short 10-minute segment from a set lasting nearly two hours, is all that most of us have ever seen.

Now, a mere 36 years after the event, Hendrix's Woodstock show can be viewed in its entirety on a new double DVD. This film of Hendrix in full flight is the most comprehensive concert document of him in existence.


I want this!

 09:55 PM - link

public spending

Leaders Who Won't Choose

Bush is not the only one to blame. Congressional spending is now completely out of control. The federal coffers are being looted for congressional patronage, and it is being done openly and without any guilt. The highway bill of 1982 had 10 "earmarked" projects—the code word for pork. The 2005 one has 6,371. The bill, written by the House transportation committee, is called the Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, or TEA-LU (in honor of chairman Don Young's wife, Lu). This use of public office for private whims would seem more appropriate in Saudi Arabia than America. Perhaps next year's bill will include a necklace for Mrs. Young.

The U.S. Congress is a national embarrasment, except that no one is embarrassed. There are a few men of conscience left, like John McCain, but McCain's pleas against pork seem to have absolutely no effect. They are beginning to have the feel of a quaint hobby, like collecting exotic stamps.

Today's Republicans believe in pork, but they don't believe in government. So we have the largest government in history but one that is weak and dysfunctional. Public spending is a cynical game of buying votes or campaign contributions, an utterly corrupt process run by lobbyists and special interests with no concern for the national interest. So we shovel out billions on "Homeland Security" to stave off nonexistent threats to Wisconsin, Wyoming and Montana while New York and Los Angeles remain unprotected. We mismanage crises with a crazy-quilt patchwork of federal, local and state authorities—and sing paeans to federalism to explain our incompetence. We denounce sensible leadership and pragmatism because they mean compromise and loss of ideological purity. Better to be right than to get Iraq right.


  thanks to Eschaton

 09:50 PM - link

book recommendation

I've recommended this book before and I will recommend it again. A must read. We have become a military with a country attached. Read it and weep.

The Disquieted American
Chalmers Johnson predicted attacks like those on Sept. 11. Now he's suggesting that U.S. foreign policy may lead to something even worse.

With that, Johnson launched into a critique of the Bush administration and U.S. foreign policy: How could President Bush have asked Congress after the Sept. 11 attacks, "Why do they hate us?" He needed only to look at members of his own administration, Johnson said, who had served in previous administrations that supported the likes of Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. "It's a remarkable litany of characters we have decided have worn out their usefulness for us," he said.

Johnson spoke of the many military bases the U.S. maintains around the globe and the animosity the bases engender in so many countries. He could understand such a strong global military presence during the Cold War, when the U.S. needed to contain the spread of communism. But why did the U.S. continue to maintain such a vast military presence at such a high cost? There was only one answer, he said: empire.

How would Americans feel, he wondered, if they found themselves in the position so many citizens of other countries are now? "If we had a division of Turkish troops in San Diego," Johnson said, "we'd have a few patriotic young [American] men who would kill a couple [of Turks] every weekend."

Johnson said he fears America's aggression will come back to haunt the country. He spoke of the rise of China and the costs of the U.S. military bases. He invoked the fall of the Roman Empire and recalled how rapidly the empires of Japan, Germany and the Soviet Union had fallen in his own lifetime. He worried about the military industrial complex, which he fears will only grow stronger and more dominant in guiding U.S. policies abroad in the years to come. "I'm 72 years old," he said. "Given the pace of events, I think there's a good chance I'll live to see the end of the American empire."

When Johnson asked for questions, one woman wondered how he could offer such a grim forecast with so little hope. Johnson nodded. He had heard the complaint before. "My wife keeps saying to me, 'You cannot go on without ever having a hopeful message,'" he said. The truth is, Johnson isn't too optimistic, but he maintains a sense of humor.

"Plan your escape route," he has joked. "Think about Vancouver."


 09:38 PM - link


Heart of Darkness
by Billmon

There was a time when I would have argued that the American people couldn't stomach that kind of butchery -- not for long anyway -- even if their political leaders were willing to inflict it. But now I'm not so sure. As a nation, we may be so desensitized to violence, and so inured to mechanized carnage on a grand scale, that we're psychologically capable of tolerating genocidal warfare against any one who can successfully be labeled as a "terrorist." Or at least, a sizable enough fraction of the American public may be willing to tolerate it, or applaud it, to make the costs politically bearable.

I don't know this for a fact, but after a stroll through nowthatsfuckedup.com, or reading the genocidal lunacy routinely on display at Little Green Footballs or freerepublic.com - or your average redneck watering hole for that matter -- I can't rule it out.

Which means I should have gone to Washington today after all. Because we really do need to get the troops out of Iraq -- before hell is the consequence.


Systems Failures
by James Wolcott

Lind quotes perceptive comments from journalist Georgie Anne Geyer (once a regular on PBS, she has been largely invisible on the airwaves since becoming an outspoken critic of Imperial America) and former ambassador Charles W. Freeman. Quoting Geyer--"More telling was the lack of debate even in Congress over the war: 'This is not,' [Freeman] averred strongly, "just a political problem; it is a systemic breakdown in America"--Lind hammers the point home:

"That is just what Fourth Generation opponents strive for, a systemic breakdown in their state adversary. The danger sign in America is not a hot national debate over the war in Iraq and its course, but precisely the absence of such a debate – which, as former Senator Gary Hart has pointed out, is largely due to a lack of courage on the part of the Democrats. Far from ensuring a united nation, what such a lack of debate and absence of alternatives makes probable is a bitter fracturing of the American body politic once the loss of the war becomes evident to the public. The public will feel itself betrayed, not merely by one political party, but by the whole political system.

"The primum mobile of Fourth Generation war is a crisis of legitimacy of the state. If the absence of a loyal opposition and alternative courses of action further delegitimizes the American state in the eye of the public, the forces of the Fourth Generation will have won a victory of far greater proportions than anything that could happen on the ground in Iraq. The Soviet Union's defeat in Afghanistan played a central role in the collapse of the Soviet state. Could the American defeat in Iraq have similar consequences here? The chance is far greater than Washington elites can imagine."


Why Immediate Withdrawal Makes Sense

American withdrawal would undoubtedly leave a riven, impoverished Iraq, awash in a sea of weaponry, with problems galore, and numerous possibilities for future violence. The either/or of this situation may not be pretty, but on a grim landscape, a single reality stands out clearly: Not only is the American presence the main source of civilian casualties, it is also the primary contributor to the threat of civil war in Iraq. The longer we wait to withdraw, the worse the situation is likely to get -- for the U.S. and for the Iraqis.


Security Situation in Baghdad Sinking like the Titanic

"The situation has deteriorated in Baghdad dramatically today. Five neighborhoods (hay) in Baghdad are controlled by insurgents, and they are Amiraya, Ghazilya, Shurta, Yarmouk and Doura. It is very bad. My guys there report that cars have come into these neighborhoods and blocked off the streets. Masked gunmen with AKs and other weapons are roaming these areas, announcing that people should stay home. One of my drivers in Amiraya reports that his neighborhood is shut down totally, and even those who need food or provisions are warned not to go out.


Pattern of Abuse
A decorated Army officer reveals new allegations of detainee mistreatment in Iraq and Afghanistan. Did the military ignore his charges?

The U.S. Army has launched a criminal investigation into new allegations of serious prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan made by a decorated former Captain in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, an Army spokesman has confirmed to TIME. The claims of the Captain, who has not been named, are in part corroborated by statements of two sergeants who served with him in the 82nd Airborne; the allegations form the basis of a report from Human Rights Watch obtained by TIME and due to be released in the next few days (Since this story first went online, the organization has decided to put out its report; it can be found here). Senate sources tell TIME that the Captain has also reported his charges to three senior Republican senators: Majority Leader Bill Frist, Armed Services Committee chairman John Warner and John McCain, a former torture victim in Vietnam. A Senate Republican staffer familiar with both the Captain and his allegations told TIME he appeared "extremely credible."


  thanks to The Huffington Post

 09:20 PM - link

poster art

OLD American Century Galleries


  thanks to American Street

 05:10 PM - link

global climate change

Britain faces big chill as ocean current slows

CLIMATE change researchers have detected the first signs of a slowdown in the Gulf Stream — the mighty ocean current that keeps Britain and Europe from freezing.

They have found that one of the “engines” driving the Gulf Stream — the sinking of supercooled water in the Greenland Sea — has weakened to less than a quarter of its former strength.

The weakening, apparently caused by global warming, could herald big changes in the current over the next few years or decades. Paradoxically, it could lead to Britain and northwestern and Europe undergoing a sharp drop in temperatures.


  thanks to Politics in the Zeros

 05:03 PM - link


Works of Art

[Newhaven Fishwives], ca. 1845


  thanks to Life In The Present

 04:58 PM - link


Dawkins explains evolution

The world is divided into things that look designed (like birds and airliners) and things that don't (rocks and mountains). Things that look designed are divided into those that really are designed (submarines and tin openers) and those that aren't (sharks and hedgehogs). The diagnostic of things that look (or are) designed is that their parts are assembled in ways that are statistically improbable in a functional direction. They do something well: for instance, fly.

Darwinian natural selection can produce an uncanny illusion of design. An engineer would be hard put to decide whether a bird or a plane was the more aerodynamically elegant.

So powerful is the illusion of design, it took humanity until the mid-19th century to realise that it is an illusion. In 1859, Charles Darwin announced one of the greatest ideas ever to occur to a human mind: cumulative evolution by natural selection. Living complexity is indeed orders of magnitude too improbable to have come about by chance. But only if we assume that all the luck has to come in one fell swoop. When cascades of small chance steps accumulate, you can reach prodigious heights of adaptive complexity. That cumulative build-up is evolution. Its guiding force is natural selection.


 11:10 AM - link

cheap light

A week ago this past Monday I had a group portrait to do for the women of a hair dressing salon in Oak Harbor. It was to be done indoors and then they wanted it to be done outside. This was a reshoot and I had problems with the outdoor lighting on the faces. The solution is fill flash. Enter the Flash Monster — my antique Flexaret Va and an old (but only now going out of production) Vivitar 283. You can pick up a Vivitar 283 for $25 on eBay. A great automatic flash.

The Flexaret has a leaf shutter. Trying to use flash with a focal plane shutter is an exercise in futility. They are only synched at one speed. A leaf shutter is synched at all speeds. This makes it easy to do fill flash. Set the exposure for the background and let the flash fill in the foreground. Simple and effective. You can fool the flash by setting it to a faster f stop than you actually are shooting with so that the flash isn't too noticable. John Brownlow did some interesting street photography with a rig similar to this. A long exposure to get a smeared background and the flash freezes the foreground subject. Fun!

I did some tests with a Lumiquest SoftBox and you hardly notice that fill flash is being used. They can be had for under $30. Fun to play with.

Shooting outside this time of year can be a pretty sporty proposition so I had to do something for lighting an inside location as a backup. I've been using a Lowel Tota-Light hot light and a reflector. It puts out a lot of light but not enough for the space I would need to illuminate. Hot lights are much cheaper than strobes and it's easy to see what the lights are doing. I needed something cheaper that a Tota-Light, thought. James Luckett and Ace Hardware came to the rescue.

That's my basement studio, aka the dungeon. The Tota-Light is on the right with an umbrella. The lights on the left are Ace Hardware work lights that were on sale for $30. The white panel is a 20x24" sheet of Roscolux #111 Filter - Tough Rolux. It's a plastic diffusion panel that can handle the heat of hot lights. B&H sells it for $5.50. I built the frame out of some scrap lumber. James linked to the site that turned me on to Tough Rolux. It has some other good tips on cheap lighting:

DIY Photography on the cheap

The Ace lights are pretty amazing. They use the same quartz lamps that the Tota-Light does. Actually, the lamps they come with are junk but you can order some 500 watt FDN lamps or 300 watt EHZ lamps that are color balanced for 3200 deg K. (I use Fuji tungsten film.) There are two lamp heads that can take up to 500 watts each for 1,000 watts total. The Tota-Light can take a 750 watt lamp. Let there be light! The Ace lights don't have as broad a illuminated area but the do fine for the price. The Ace lights also come off and store in the cage underneath which has wheels for moving. I will be playing around with this.

Which did I use for the shoot? Neither. It was too windy to shoot outside and when I got to the salon there was another room with plenty of it's own light. That's the nature of shooting on location — improvise.

 11:05 AM - link


I didn't get far in posting yesterday. Zoe and Gerry's doctor moved from Freeland (5 minutes away) to Oak Harbor (45 minutes away). Now it's pretty much a half day shot for a doctor appointment. Gerry had an appointment yesterday afternoon. Her doctor walked her around and watched how she walked. Apparently the brain plaque is starting to impact the cerebellum. She is starting to lose motor skills. Her feet don't sense where the ground is very well. He suggested she use a cane regularly. Not so much for support but as another sensor. It lets her hands feel where the ground is.

 10:14 AM - link

  Thursday   September 29   2005


A must read. Turkey is at a crossroads in many ways. A long piece but very interesting.

The East in the West

On a warm Saturday night, beneath the cable car that runs up into the mountains from a quiet neighborhood in the historic Ottoman city of Bursa, the Teleferik Family Tea Garden is mobbed. Whole families from the farthest reaches of Anatolia, the Asian part of Turkey, are crowded around tables in front of glasses of tea, watching a pair of guys with a keyboard sing arabesques and rock songs in Kurdish. The families have arrived in the past few years, a cashier explains, from Tunceli, a town at the epicenter of the terrorist campaign against the Turkish state that Kurdish guerrillas waged from 1984 to 1999. Most of the young women wear the loose-fitting headscarves traditional in Turkey; others, the more elaborate and constraining ones that are a mark of newer currents in political Islam. Still others are on the dance floor, uncovered, bare-armed, dancing in an implausibly immodest way they have probably seen on videos. None of the boys are far enough removed from village mores to dare join them. Watching the dancers impassively, their mothers, in headscarves and long rain jackets despite the heat, smoke cigarettes and chatter on cellphones.


  thanks to War and Piece

 11:39 AM - link

a leica, a lens, and some straps

Well, I didn't seem to get to any more posts yesterday. But it was full of surprises and work.

The first surprise was the arrival of my grandfather's 1949 Leica IIIc.

What has coffee got do to with the Leica? I took the picture for a post over at Rangefinder Forum. There is a forum called Camera and Coffee for people to share their treasures and favorite coffee. It's Whidbey's organic expresso. (I think I'll have another sip. Ahhhhh!) Anyway, the camera was sent to Oleg in Russia for a clean, lube, and adjust as well as new shutter curtains for a cost of $60. (It was paid for as a birthday gift from Gerry. So I will think of both my Grandfather and Gerry when I use it.) It's much quiter now and all the controls are silky smooth. I took this down off the shelf two years ago. It had been on shelves since 1976. No longer. I ran out of money to get a lens CLA but, except for a little haze, it looks pretty good. It's a Summitar 50/2. I'm shooting some duplicate shots with the Jupiter 8 to compare. I'm assuming all will be well. It will get it's CLA someday. The lens shade is a Leitz IROOA that also was my grandfather's. I bought the little Sekonic a few months ago and it fits like a glove on the Leica. This camera got me back into film. I'm glad that now I can run film through it. It's truly a joy to use.

The other surprise was the arrival of my 65mm lens for my Salut-S. This was a replacement. The first one didn't shut the diaphragm down properly. This one works fine. I'm anxious to try it out for some stitched panaramas.

Most of yesterday was adding two new colors of leather for my camera strap site Gordy's Camera Straps. A brown and dark brown. Check them out. Buy a strap.

 11:34 AM - link

  Wednesday   September 28   2005


[Tues morning]
It's hard to put this past week into words. Part of it is trying to understand and relate to what is going on with Gerry (Zoe's mom who has Alzheimer's). Reality is very different for Gerry. Tuesday Zoe and Gerry went up to Oak Harbor with Kim. Kim is a friend of Zoe's and has been doing work for Gerry for over two years. While Zoe was inside shopping, Kim and Gerry waited in the car. Soon Gerry started asking Kim questions that made it obvious that she didn't know who Kim was. Thursday we took Gerry to a neurologist. He was somewhat confused since Gerry seemed quite normal and bright and didn't look her 81 years. But after some questioning it became clear that she had almost no retention. She also didn't remember that she had a son and two grandchildren. Several times during the past week she would be fine and then, minutes later, she would be confused and agitated. She would "know" that she was supposed to be going somewhere but couldn't say where. Or she would say she was missing her things and would start searching through all her drawers in an infinite loop. She couldn't say what she was missing but she would keep looking since she knew that she was missing something. The plaque in the brain slides around shorting things out. She has been better the past couple of days but there has been a dimishing of capacities. Gerry gets worse and then gets better but she doesn't get back to where she was.

[Tuesday evening]
I was ready to post the above just before noon. Zoe and Gerry had gone to Oak Harbor to get their hair done. They had only been gone a few minutes when they came back. Gerry was wobbly and a little out of it. She was shaking a little. I ended up taking her to lunch and being with here while Kim was shampooing the carpets. She didn't realize that she was home and that her bedroom was in the next room. She keeps trying to pretend that everything is alright even when she isn't quite sure where she is. It's been a trying week.

[Wednesday morning]
It's been a strain on Zoe to see her mom like this. I was ready to post the above last night and ended spending the time holding Zoe's hand. This morning Gerry was cheerful and alert and her legs weren't even hurting, as they usually are. I've got some work to catch up on and hope to have more posts up later today. There are some good ones.

30 minutes later she heard Zoe's voice from upstairs and was surprised that Zoe was here. She was shocked to find out that Zoe was here because she lived here. "Why didn't someone tell me?" And so it goes.

 09:05 AM - link