Weblog Archives




  Friday   December 17   2004

merry christmas

The greatest Christmas story of all
Forget Scrooge and Tiny Tim -- James Joyce's "The Dead," with its distinctively Irish blend of music and tragedy, is the ultimate yuletide tale. And why isn't John Huston's marvelous film version available on DVD?

The greatest of all Christmas stories, James Joyce's "The Dead," the last story in "Dubliners," was written in little over a month as Joyce forged the uncreated conscience of his race from an apartment in Trieste, Italy. John Huston's 1988 film was made in roughly the same amount of time (in 33 days, actually). Much of it, including all the interiors, was shot in a warehouse in Valencia, Calif.

Joyce was just 25 when he wrote the story, and Huston 80 when he filmed it, but the intentions of the self-imposed Irish exile and the American émigré who adopted Ireland were not dissimilar. Both the youthful writer and the aging filmmaker were coming to terms with their ambivalence toward both their families and Ireland; both gave themselves over to moments of reverie about home, family and the Christmas holiday (though, actually, the story is set on Jan. 6, 1904, on the Feast of the Epiphany -- the last of the 12 days of Christmas) that aren't to be found anywhere else in their work. Joyce's great works, the quintessential modernist novel "Ulysses" and the unclassifiable stream-of-unconsciousness narrative "Finnegans Wake," were still ahead of him. Huston's great films, including "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," all lay far in the past.


The Dead
by James Joyce

Lily, the caretaker's daughter, was literally run off her feet. Hardly had she brought one gentleman into the little pantry behind the office on the ground floor and helped him off with his overcoat, than the wheezy hall-door bell clanged again and she had to scamper along the bare hallway to let in another guest. It was well for her she had not to attend to the ladies also. But Miss Kate and Miss Julia had thought of that and had converted the bathroom upstairs into a ladies' dressing-room. Miss Kate and Miss Julia were there, gossiping and laughing and fussing, walking after each other to the head of the stairs, peering down over the banisters and calling down to Lily to ask her who had come.

It was always a great affair, the Misses Morkan's annual dance. Everybody who knew them came to it, members of the family, old friends of the family, the members of Julia's choir, any of Kate's pupils that were grown up enough, and even some of Mary Jane's pupils too. Never once had it fallen flat. For years and years it had gone off in splendid style, as long as anyone could remember: ever since Kate and Julia, after the death of their brother Pat, had left the house in Stoney Batter and taken Mary Jane, their only niece, to live with them in the dark, gaunt house on Usher's Island, the upper part of which they had rented from Mr Fulham, the corn-factor on the ground floor. That was a good thirty years ago if it was a day. Mary Jane, who was then a little girl in short clothes, was now the main prop of the household, for she had the organ in Haddington Road. She had been through the Academy and gave a pupils' concert every year in the upper room of the Ancient Concert Rooms. Many of her pupils belonged to the better-class families on the Kingstown and Dalkey line. Old as they were, her aunts also did their share. Julia, though she was quite grey, was still the leading soprano in Adam and Eve's, and Kate, being too feeble to go about much, gave music lessons to beginners on the old square piano in the back room. Lily, the caretaker's daughter, did housemaid's work for them. Though their life was modest, they believed in eating well; the best of everything: diamond-bone sirloins, three-shilling tea and the best bottled stout. But Lily seldom made a mistake in the orders, so that she got on well with her three mistresses. They were fussy, that was all. But the only thing they would not stand was back answers.


 10:38 PM - link

war against the workers

What's New in the Legal World? A Growing Campaign to Undo the New Deal

The New Deal made an unexpected appearance at the Supreme Court recently - in the form of a 1942 case about wheat. Some prominent states' rights conservatives were asking the court to overturn Wickard v. Filburn, a landmark ruling that laid out an expansive view of Congress's power to legislate in the public interest.

Supporters of states' rights have always blamed Wickard, and a few other cases of the same era, for paving the way for strong federal action on workplace safety, civil rights and the environment. Although they are unlikely to reverse Wickard soon, states' rights conservatives are making progress in their drive to restore the narrow view of federal power that predated the New Deal - and render Congress too weak to protect Americans on many fronts.


 10:20 PM - link


Urban & Industrial Archeology


  thanks to DANGEROUSMETA!

 10:15 PM - link

kar kulture

It's easy to get into a rut and not realize that the life we live is maybe, just maybe, not the best of all possible worlds. While the automobile is seen around the world, we Americans have let it rule us. One of the things that I sometimes try to do is look at alternate universes. They are all around us. Yolanda Flanagan sent me this one. The entries aren't permalinked so you may have to scroll down to the December 15th entry...

The Clusterfuck Nation Chronicle
Commentary on the Flux of Events

December 15, 2004

Paris was normal, which is to say the streets were thronged with live human beings (hardly any of them overweight), the cafes and restaurants were bustling, even the parks were well-populated on a brisk December day and we were reminded emphatically of the stark contrast with the impoverished public life of America. In fact, one morning as we puttered in the hotel room with CNN-Europe playing in the background, a story came on about retail sales back in the States, and there was a shot of our supersized fellow countrymen waddling around in a WalMart dressed in the usual slob apparel by which they fail to make a distinction between being at home and being out in public.

Amsterdam, Holland, was pretty much the same story as Paris, though it is physically quite different from Paris -- the scale is smaller, the intimate streets are deployed along a network of beautiful canals, and the car is barely tolerated (or even much in evidence). There, we would duck into a "brown bar" (so-called because of the dark wooden wainscotting) at five p.m. and it would be full of well-dressed, gainfully employed adults in animated conversation. Public life in Europe is only minimally about shopping and maximally about spending time with your fellow human beings.

American public life by comparison is pathetic-to-nonexistent. Americans venture out only to roam the warehouse depots, and only by car. In most American places bars are strictly for lowlifes, and the public realm for the employed classes is pretty much restricted to television, with its predictable cast of manufactured characters and situations. The alienation and isolation of American life is so pervasive and pathological, compared to life lived elsewhere in this world, that all the Prozac ever made will never avail to make things better for us.


I've been reading a book of letters by the early 20th century illustrator N.C. Wyeth. One of the aspects of the book that I enjoy is the point of view of someone in another world. This is a lettler to his mother written in 1909. It's the beginning of the auto age.

Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania
May I7, 1909. Saturday night

Dear Mama,

I have something to say—it is ten o'clock but I must say it! I am forcibly struck by an impression, in some way I must give it expression—my pen is handy, the window is open and it is cool, so here is my method. I'll send it to you—I must send it somewhere—I don't want to keep it. Look it over and throw it away!

It is a still hot night. As we sat on the porch earlier in the evening, listening to the thousand mysterious voices in the grass, in the trees and hedgerows, we were startled by the long white flash of an automobile searchlight darting along the meadow road below us. It pierced the night with a merciless glare, painting the roadway, the fences, grass and trees with cold, glaring and unnatural colors.

We watched the huge machine as it slid toward us swiftly and silently, its searing light boring its way through the darkness, until to our surprise and consternation the shaft of light swung its great arm into our driveway and slowly moved up the steep path. As it followed the curve toward the house, the blinding light was turned full upon us—we felt positively abashed, to be suddenly placed in that brazen glare which seemed to search out our very souls with microscopic minuteness. The sudden change from silent, soulful reverie in the dark into that harsh, garish flame seemed almost to the point of being revolting.

Common courtesy demanded that we meet our friends, whoever they may be, and to treat them as cordially as possible.

The conversation that followed proved to be entirely in keeping with the great trembling car that throbbed with suppressed power, and the rank nauseating odor of gasoline which it emitted. We talked automobiles and prices, speed and endurance, roads and distances. Not once did our minds turn to the wonders of the great mysterious night that enveloped us, the deep vault of the heaven with its thousand twinkling eyes, or the arching trees that hung above us exuding the lush fragrance of spring. These were forgotten utterly.

Finally, and without once leaving their luxuriant seats, they said good-night and left us. The car shuddered violently and with much coughing and wheezing it turned about. Once on the road it settled down into a humming purr and soon disappeared over the hills.

The occupants have reached their homes by this time, some fifteen miles distant, within thirty minutes as they had planned. They shot through the night like an arrow, veils fluttering, coats and hair blowing. The night's pleasure with them has passed—they have ridden miles but they have no remembrances of their outing other than fleeting recollections of fantastic blurred objects, a vague sense of the vibrating machine. Their faces tingle with the rush of air that had beat upon them, they think only of their next ride and how much farther and faster they will go.

Now for reflection!

Here we are—the three of us. The baby is sleeping peacefully in the cool hammock under the trees, Carolyn is resting likewise in another hammock slung on the porch. I am at my desk by an open window. Without, the sounds of the night insects gently reverberate through the still air; from the distant meadow floats the soft trilling chorus of a thousand frogs; from under the wall by the cellar window comes the louder chirp, chirp of the cricket. Above us the stars hang in the trees like tiny lanterns, and between the larger openings of the branches the infinite depths of the heavens suggest those great intangible secrets of the universe.

I have taken a belated walk into the garden. The low rows of peas lay long and shadowy as though asleep; the gaunt bean poles stand like sentinels across the head of the patch; and beyond, in great protecting mounds, rise the vague towering forms of the apple trees.

How grand it all is! How I reverence it! How it makes me revolt against that unwholesome, empty and selfish life lived by just those people with whom we parted company two hours ago. I deplore the great mistake they are making; I am sorry that they are missing so much—1 can't help pitying them!

I hope this is understandable—it is quite late and my mind may be dull. However, I'll fold this up and slip it into an envelope and seal it—I won't look at it again.

With all said and done, this impression is so strong that I can almost cry—for what, I don't know, perhaps it is because I'm so
glad and so sorry.

Mama, you're a staunch backstop for all the vagaries of the impulsive minds of us boys, otherwise I wouldn't send this.

However, I feel relieved having let off superfluous steam; I hope you can relieve yourself of this outburst as easily.

Something to think about.

 10:10 PM - link

big iron

Posting has been a little slow lately. Things have been busy, not the least of which is actual paying work so I can't complain. But the links keep piling up. And my projects multiply. The Speed Graphic project is moving along. When last seen it looked like this...

But Ive been busy and now it looks like this...

I've been stripping off all the ugly old leather to free the mahagony, brass, and aluminum underneath. Here is what a real focal plane shutter looks like...

The rangefinder will be refurbished and will go back on. When the leather is ripped off there is a residue of leather and glue left. It is somewhat water soluble but sanding seems to work the best. The aluminum, unfortunately, is corroded. I may paint it or I may look at it as "textured" aluminum. Here is a little of the sanded but unfinished wood that is showing through.

Here is the back of the camera before...

And after cleaning, sanding, and some tung oil on the wood. It's ready to go back on the camera...when the rest of it is done.

I'm not doing this to have a shelf camera. Check out what this guy did with a Speed Graphic back in the 40s and 50s. I don't think there is a camera today that can duplicate these pictures.

A Selection of Photographs by: RAY ATKESON


I found the Atkeson link at Press Cameras and you find much more about these cameras at Graflex.Org.

 09:32 PM - link

  Sunday   December 12   2004

election 2004

Doubts Persist About Election Results

As the Electoral College prepares to certify President Bush's re-election on Monday, concerns persist about the integrity of the nation's voting system — particularly in Ohio, where details continue to emerge of technology failures, voter confusion and overcrowded polling stations in minority and poor neighborhoods.


The E-Vote Factor: Kerry Conceded But Did He Really Lose?
Serious questions are being raised about the use of electronic voting machines in the 2004 presidential election. In an Ohio county, Bush mistakenly received some 3,900 extra votes. We speak Johns Hopkins University professor Aviel Rubin and investigative reporter Bev Harris. [includes rush transcript]

  thanks to Yolanda Flanagan

 02:17 PM - link

christmas cards

Cara Scissoria Greeting Cards


  thanks to Politics in the Zeros

 02:07 PM - link


Fuel Shortage...
by Riverbend

The assault on Falloojeh and other areas is continuing. There are rumors of awful weapons being used in Falloojeh. The city has literally been burnt and bombed to the ground. Many of the people displaced from the city are asking to be let back in, in spite of everything. I can't even begin to imagine how difficult it must be for the refugees. It's like we've turned into another Palestine- occupation, bombings, refugees, death. Sometimes I'll be watching the news and the volume will be really low. The scene will be of a man, woman or child, wailing in front of the camera; crying at the fate of a body lying bloodily, stiffly on the ground- a demolished building in the background and it will take me a few moments to decide the location of this tragedy- Falloojeh? Gaza? Baghdad?


So much loss…

Last weekend alone, over 70 Iraqis were killed in violence around their country. Yet these are only those reported as a result of spectacular, “newsworthy” incidents like car bombs or clashes between the resistance and occupation forces.

Iraqis are dying everyday from other things, like violent crime, kidnappings where families can’t afford to pay the ransom, stray bullets…

It’s all too easy to lose sight of what this means by looking only at the macro headlines; 32 Iraqis killed by a car bomb, 8 Iraqi Police killed when Police Station stormed, etc.

The numbers don’t tell the story of families the dead are leaving behind.


Iraq in Pictures

Homeless Iraq vets showing up at shelters

  thanks to Steve Gilliard's News Blog

Deserters: We Won't Go To Iraq

  thanks to Antiwar.com

US Army plagued by desertion and plunging morale

 02:04 PM - link


These are a wonderful set of links about the Czechoslavakian photographer Josef Sudek courtesy of wood s lot.

Josef Sudek

Josef Sudek was born in 1896 in Kolin on the Labe in Bohemia. As a boy he learned the trade of bookbinding. He was drafted into the Hungarian Army in 1915 and served on the Italian Front until he was wounded in the right arm. Infection set in and eventually surgeons removed his arm at the shoulder. During his convalescence in an Army Hospital, he began photographing his fellow inmates. After his discharge, Sudek studied photography for two years in a school for graphic art in Prague. Between a disability pension and intermitment work as a commercial photographer, Sudek made a living. In 1933, he held his first one-man show in the Krasnajizba salon. Since 1947, he has published eight books. In the early 1950's, Sudek acquired an 1894 Kodak Panorama camera whose spring-drive sweeping lens makes a negative 10 cm x 30 cm. He employed this exotic format to make a stunning series of cityscapes of Prague, published in 1959.



JOSEF SUDEK (1896-1976)



Josef Sudek Still Lifes


Josef Sudek 1896 - 1976

Josef Sudek


Photographs by Josef Sudek


 01:06 PM - link

no draft, no iraq

Uncle Sam Wants Your Kids – Now!
By David H. Hackworth

Since this tragic war kicked off in March 2003, the United States has evacuated an estimated 50,000 KIA, WIA and non-battle casualties from Iraq back to the States – leaving 50,000 slots that have had to be filled.

The job of finding fresh bodies to keep our units topped off falls mainly to the Army Recruiting Command. But the “making-quota” jazz put out by the Recruiting Command and the Pentagon to hype their billion-dollar recruiting effort, with its huge TV expenditure and big expansion of recruiters during the past year, is pure unadulterated spin. Not that this is anything new. The Command has a sorry reputation for using smoke and mirrors to cover up poor performance.

“Hack, here’s a snapshot of how little of our 1st Quarter mission has been achieved,” says an Army recruiter. “Look at it from a perspective of a business releasing quarterly earnings information. To keep unit manning levels up out in the field, especially in Iraq, there’s no question our recruiting mission is in serious trouble.”

“These are totals for the 41 USAREC (Recruiting Command) Battalions, so these stats represent the USAREC mission accomplishment:

Regular Army Volume (all RA contracts):
Mission: 25,322
Achieved: 12,703 (50.17 percent)

Army Reserve Volume:
Mission: 7,373
Achieved: 3,206 (43.48 percent).”

The Army National Guard is faring no better. A Guard retention NCO says: “The word is out on the streets of Washington, D.C. ‘Do not join the Guard.’ I see these words echoing right across the U.S.A.”

By the end of this recruiting year, the Regular Army, Reserves and Guard could fall short more than 50 percent of its projected requirement, or about 60,000 new soldiers. And according to many recruiters, quality recruits are giving way to mental midgets who have a hard time telling their left foot from their right.

Shades of our last years in Vietnam.

Unless a miracle happens and the new Iraqi security force decides to stop running and start fighting, we’ll be in Iraq for a long time. Most likely with a draftee force.


Steve Gilliard quotes the above article and adds his own comments...

Draft is on the way

It's gutcheck time, and Congress isn't going to pass.

If given a choice of either withdrawing from Iraq or a draft, well, let's say hello to President Sadr. People, and not just liberals, are going to resist the draft if it comes.

From saying things are going well to saying "well, we need your kids for Iraq" is a seismic change, and one I don't think Bush or the Congress is ready for. Forget the country. Iraq has been someone else's problem and one other people share by buying yellow ribbons to stick on their cars. They have zero plans of offering up Bush for their kids and I don't care how they voted in November. If Iraq was the issue, he would have lost. It wasn't and it's going to be soon. Our Pollyanna President has not come close to preparing the US for sacrifice on this level. He's always treated Iraq with platitudes. The draft isn't platitudes, it's real. The neocons talk big, but they aren't expecting a draft either, because they know support for Iraq is an inch deep. If that grim reaper comes to the doors of the middle class, Iraq and their dreams of empire are over.


Officer crisis hits Army Reserve

The Army Reserve is facing an extreme shortage of company officers, a situation aggravated by a surge in resignation requests.

The shortage — primarily of captains — has seriously reduced the capabilities of the Reserve, and continued losses will further reduce the readiness of "an already depleted military force," according to an Army briefing document submitted last month to Congress.


  thanks to daily KOS

 12:48 PM - link


aspects of the Victorian Book

At the beginning of the 19th century most printing was carried out in small, haphazardly adapted workshops, on heavy wooden hand presses, using traditional methods which had changed very little in 300 years. By the end of the century the industry was dominated by fewer, larger firms, operating in specially-built factories housing batteries of noisy machines, and where nearly all the processes were fully mechanised.


 12:35 PM - link


“America has become the planet’s glorious beggar”

I recently reported some overall impressions of the excellent After the Empire, by Emmanuel Todd. This post introduces his arguments and includes a number of quotes. I don’t intend to go anywhere with the arguments yet; at this point I’m just recording them.

Part of the pleasure of this book is encountering a European outlook: Todd has Jewish and French cultural roots, and he was trained in research at Cambridge. This book was a bestseller in Germany as well as France. So as an American I might hope to overhear something of what they say about us.

Todd is quite sympathetic as he offers what he sees as uncomfortable truths:

I have to admit that I come to the task of writing the preface for the American edition of Après l’Empire with mixed feelings. I must here address Americans on the subject of their own country, and I do not see how a normal human being could take pleasure in telling other normal human beings that their country is ill, that it has made foolish strategic choices, and that they, as Americans, must prepare for a reduction of their power, and, most likely, of their standard of living.


 12:28 PM - link


I was searching for some information on shooting black and white film and I came upon this site by the photographer Jerry Gay. I got into photography seriously in the early 1970s. One of the photographers whose work I admired at that time was a local photographer for the Seattle Times — Jerry Gay. He won a Pulitzer Prize for a picture of some firemen. I haven't heard of him for some time and it's nice to see he is is still taking his wonderful black and white pictures.

Jerry Gay

Students block traffic during an anti-Viet Nam war demonstration.


This is not really a representative picture. It's his people pictures that I love the most. This was a news picture. I used it because I remember this well. I was one of those "students." Check out Jerry's book Everyone Has a Life to Live: An American Portrait.

 12:18 PM - link

The two catastrophes
Israelis and Palestinians have both been marked by inconceivable tragedy. For both sides, understanding the other's memories is the first step toward moving beyond the past.

In the post-Arafat era, Israelis and Palestinians are struggling once again to find a way to peace. But until each side honestly tries to understand and empathize with the other's catastrophe, it is likely to be a dialogue of the deaf.

One of the most courageous statements ever to come from the pen of a Jewish-Israeli intellectual was made by philosopher and historian Yehuda Elkana more than a decade ago. In an article titled "In Praise of Forgetting," Elkana called upon Israel's political, cultural and educational elite to "forget the Holocaust." "I do not envision today," wrote Elkana, "a more important political and educational task for the leaders of this nation than to mobilize on behalf of life, to devote themselves to building our future and not to occupy themselves from sunrise to sunset with the symbols, the ceremonies, and the 'lessons' of the Holocaust. It is incumbent upon them to uproot the domination of historical 'remembrance' on our lives."


  thanks to Aron's Israel Peace Weblog

 11:55 AM - link


Sutnar did everything from toys to typography. Check it all out.

Ladislav Sutnar


  thanks to Coudal Partners

 11:52 AM - link

what other world leader had god on his side?

"God Is With Us": Hitler's Rhetoric and the Lure of "Moral Values"

A couple weeks ago, while asserting that the Founding Founders intended for the U.S. government to be infused with Christianity, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said that the Holocaust was able to flourish in Germany because of Europe's secular ways. "Did it turn out that, by reason of the separation of church and state, the Jews were safer in Europe than they were in the United States of America?" Scalia asked a congregation at Manhattan's Shearith Israel synagogue. "I don't think so."

One might expect regular citizens to be ignorant of history, but a Supreme Court Justice? Does he imagine that the phrase "Gott mit Uns" was a German clothier's interpretation of "Got Milk"?

If photographic evidence of the Third Reich's Christian leanings were not enough, Hitler's own speeches and writings prove, at the very least, that he presented many of the same faith-based arguments heard in America today. Religion in the schools? Hitler was for it. Intellectuals who practiced "anti-Christian, smug individualism"? According to Hitler, their days were numbered. Divine Providence's role in shaping Germany's ultimate victory? Who could argue? In other words, there is enough historical evidence to color Scalia deluded. Writing for Free Inquiry, John Patrick Michael Murphy explained:

"Hitler's Germany amalgamated state with church. Soldiers of the vermacht wore belt buckles inscribed with the following: "Gott mit uns" (God is with us). His troops were often sprinkled with holy water by the priests. It was a real Christian country whose citizens were indoctrinated by both state and church and blindly followed all authority figures, political and ecclesiastical.

Hitler, like some of the today's politicians and preachers, politicized "family values." He liked corporeal punishment in home and school. Jesus prayers became mandatory in all schools under his administration. While abortion was illegal in pre-Hitler Germany, he took it to new depths of enforcement, requiring all doctors to report to the government the circumstances of all miscarriages. He openly despised homosexuality and criminalized it."

Gott Mit Uns (God With Us)


  thanks to wood s lot

 11:40 AM - link




  thanks to J-Walk Blog

 11:33 AM - link


Tomgram: Michael Klare on the Coming Energy Crisis

When George W. Bush entered the White House in early 2001, the nation was suffering from a severe "energy crisis" brought on by high gasoline prices, regional shortages of natural gas, and rolling blackouts in California. Most notable was the artificial scarcity of natural gas orchestrated by the Enron Corporation in its rapacious drive for mammoth profits. In response, the President promised to make energy modernization one of his top concerns. However, aside from proposing the initiation of oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, he did little to ameliorate the country's energy woes during his first four years in office. Luckily for him, the energy situation improved slightly as a national economic slowdown depressed demand, leading to a temporary decline in gasoline prices. But now, as Bush approaches his second term in office, another energy crisis looms on the horizon -- one not likely to dissipate of its own accord.


 11:21 AM - link


Just for Fun! How popular are you (and your friends)?

We create a graph for you showing how popular your name has been over each of the past 10 decades.


  thanks to J-Walk Blog

 11:19 AM - link

social security

Borrow, Speculate and Hope
by Paul Krugman

"The National Association of Securities Dealers," The Wall Street Journal reports, "is investigating whether some brokerage houses are inappropriately pushing individuals to borrow large sums on their houses to invest in the stock market." Can we persuade the association to investigate would-be privatizers of Social Security?

For it is now apparent that the Bush administration's privatization proposal will amount to the same thing: borrow trillions, put the money in the stock market and hope.


 11:12 AM - link


Night photography


 10:15 AM - link