Sing for Change Obama – a creepy idea whose time has passed

A half-assed – but still valid – reason to vote for McCain .. because stuff like this is creepy and verging on evil.

The idea of a bunch of tots singing praises of the Dear Leader needs to be mocked until the adults in the room sheepisly admit that, yes, it’s really dumb to idolize a politician and program your children.

It’s like the 20th century didn’t even happen.  What in the f*** are you people thinking?

Cross posted to Space For Commerce.

Update!

The first link is gone – but the song lives on!

And lyrics!

We’re gonna spread happiness
We’re gonna spread freedom
Obama’s gonna change it
Obama’s gonna lead ‘em

We’re gonna change it
And rearrange it
We’re gonna change the world.

The People Has Spoke

Your representatives heard you when you demanded affordable housing, they heard you when you insisted that the programs were fine, and they have heard you when you insisted that Wall Street pay for it all by melting into a puddle of slag.

bailout_2 by you.

Yes, I know: simplistic. Also not everyone demanded all of that.  Still, this is Democracy and we get to live with our folly.  That includes your neighbor’s folly as well as your own.

If this gets real bad and fifty years from now historians look back and say ‘you know, if they’d voted ‘aye’ they could have saved themselves a whole lotta misery’, I hope the guys up on the barricade have the grace to feel like retards.

Cross posted to Space For Commerce.

I’ve Got a Bracelet, Too

Real life provides better lines than fiction ever will.

Senator McCain: Long ramble about service, sacrifice, the suckitude of defeat.
Senator Obama: “Jim, let me just make a point. I’ve got a bracelet too. From, Sergeant, uh, uh, from the mother of, uh, Sergeant, Ryan David Jopek.”

He certainly does appear to be looking at his wrist for Sergeant Jopek’s name, doesn’t he?

Why is this a big deal?

The point of those bracelets is to remember the individual.  If you gotta look at the thing to recall the name, it sorta brings home the point that it’s there for political reasons, hunh? 

People in the military – and their families – are not blind to the reality that we’re an instrument of national policy [1].  But we prefer not to have that fact shoved into our faces by people who want to be the boss.

When President Obama pulls the trigger to invade Pakistan [2] we’d like to think he’s giving at least a passing thought to Joe Snuffy.

Not remembering the name of the guy you’ve said you would honor as an individual makes it hard to do that.

[1] War is a continuation of politics by other means – Clausewitz.

[2] Or any of the other eleventy-dozen countries where Al-Queda is operating.  If the world thought an ill-defined Bush Doctrine was a big deal just wait until we see the Obama Doctrine in action: Invade whomever we want whenever we want because a few dozen gomers are recruiting for an amorphous network of terrorists.[3]

[3] Add to this Representative Steve Kagen’s promise to interfere with free markets outside the jurisdiction of the United States, Senator Obama’s plan to draft high school kids into national service and we might be forgiven for asking people: You won’t vote Republican because Bush was a war monger, an idiot, and a guy who is reviled by right-thinking people everywhere .. but compuslory service, a promise to roll panzers across recognized national borders ‘just because’ and plans to keep people from making money in their own country .. this is somehow better?

Cross posted to Space For Commerce.

A Question…

Last night during the debate, Senator Obama said:

The third thing we have to do is we’ve got to make sure that we’re competing in education. We’ve got to invest in science and technology. China had a space launch and a space walk. We’ve got to make sure that our children are keeping pace in math and in science.

And one of the things I think we have to do is make sure that college is affordable for every young person in America.

While I agree that we need to keep pace in Math & Science (or even, to move ahead in both), and while I think that affordable college is a worthy goal, not every job requires a college degree. Nor is every person a good fit for college.

So, Senator, my question is this. What about the young people who have no interest in, or desire for college? What about the ones who want to be plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, cabinet-makers, and the like? What will you do for them?

Will you be as generous in providing funding/financing for those who want to attend a trade school, or a 2-year college? What about grad school, for those whose chosen careers require post-graduate work?

And what about Americans who are NOT young, but finally have the opportunity to pursue a degree? Should it be affordable for them as well, or does your largesse only extend to YOUNG Americans? Which begs the question: at what point does a person stop being “young”?

I suppose, as long as I’m asking questions, I should also ask what you’re going to do about the young Americans who don’t qualify for college. Affordable college is great, but only if folks meet the entrance requirements. We can’t continue to dumb down the entrance requirements just to ensure that everyone can attend.

How will you make college affordable? Are you going to mandate tuition prices? I don’t understand how the federal gov’t has the right to mandate tuition fees for non-federal schools. Oh, you’re probably NOT going to mandate tuition – you’ll provide subsidies instead. But it’s an interesting fact that as federal aid increases, so do tuition prices, so increasing subsidies will have no real effect on the cost of attending college.

Notice I’m not asking you where the money’s going to come from – I know the answer to that. You’ll raise my taxes and make me pay for it. I suppose I should be grateful for having the opportunity to help others succeed, but somehow, gratitude isn’t the emotion that pops up when I think about this.

RIP, Mr. Newman

Paul Newman has passed away at age 83. Cancer.

Not only will we remember him for those deep blue eyes that any red-blooded woman could get lost in forever, but for his faithfulness to Joanne Woodward, his wife since 1958. Playboy magazine asked him one time if he was ever tempted to stray. His reply: “I have steak at home- why go out for hamburger?”

Newman’s Own Foundation has issued a statement.

“Paul Newman’s craft was acting. His passion was racing. His love was his family and friends. And his heart and soul were dedicated to helping make the world a better place for all.

Paul had an abiding belief in the role that luck plays in one’s life, and its randomness. He was quick to acknowledge the good fortune he had in his own life, beginning with being born in America, and was acutely aware of how unlucky so many others were. True to his character, he quietly devoted himself to helping offset this imbalance.

We will miss you, sir.

An Old Mission Church Half Tumbled Down

That is just what it was, when the building which is the premier landmark in San Antonio – and perhaps all of the rest of Texas – first achieved fame immortal, in the short and bloody space of an hour and a half, just before sunrise on a chill spring morning in 1836. People who come to visit today, with an image in their mind from the movies about it – from John Wayne’s version, and the more recent 2004 movie, or from sketch-maps in books about the desperate, fourteen-day siege are usually taken back to discover that it is so small. So I know, because I thought so the first time I visited it as an AF trainee on town-pass in 1978. And it is small – one of those Spanish colonial era buildings, in limestone weathered to the color of old ivory. That chapel is only a remnant of a sprawling complex of buildings. Itself and the so-called ‘Long Barracks’ are the only things remaining of what was once called the Mission San Antonio de Valero, given it’s better known appellation by a company of Spanish cavalry stationed there in the early 19th century – they called it after the cottonwood trees around their previous station of Alamo de Parras, in Coahuila. It was the northernmost of a linked chain of five mission complexes, threaded like baroque pearls on a green ribbon, and originally established to tend to the spiritual needs and the protection of local Christianized Indian tribes. The missions were secularized at the end of the 18th century, the lands around distributed to the people who had lived there. Their chapels became local parish churches – while the oldest of them all became a garrison.

There is in existence a birds-eye view map of San Antonio in 1873, a quarter century after the last stand of Travis and Bowie’s company that shows a grove of trees in rows behind the apse of the old chapel building. In the year that the map was made, the chapel and the remaining buildings were still a garrison of sorts – an Army supply depot, and the plaza in front of it a marshalling yard. One wonders if any of the supply sergeants of that time or any of the laborers unloading the wagons bringing military supplies up from the coast and designated for the garrisons of the Western frontier forts gave a thought to the building they worked in. Did they think the place was haunted, perhaps? Did they hear whispers and groans in the dark, think anything of odd stains on the floors and walls, of regular depressions in the floor where defensive trenches had been dug at the last? What did they think, piling up crates, barrels and boxes, in the place that the final handful of survivors had made their last stand, against the tide of Santa Anna’s soldiers flooding over the crumbling walls?

Probably not much– whitewash covers a lot. And a useful, sturdy building is just that – useful. By the 1870s, those Regular Army NCOs working in there were veterans of the Civil War, and perhaps haunted enough by their own war, just lately over. The growing city had spread beyond those limits that William Travis, David Crocket and James Bowie would have seen, looking down from those very same walls.

In 1836 that cluster of buildings, and the old church with it’s ornate niches and columns twisted like lengths of barley sugar sat a little distance from the outskirts of the best established provincial town in that part of Spanish and Mexican Texas, out in the meadows by a loop of clear, narrow river fringed by rushes and willows. San Antonio de Bexar, mostly shortened then to simply “Bexar”, was then just a close clustered huddle of adobe brick buildings around two plazas and the stumpy spire of the church of San Fernando. It is a challenge to picture it, in the minds eye, to take away the tall glass buildings all around, the lawns and carefully tended flowering shrubs, to ignore the sounds of traffic, the SATrans busses belching exhaust, and see it as it might have appeared, a hundred and sixty years ago. I think there would have been cottonwood trees, close by. Thirsty trees, they plant themselves across the west, wherever there is water in plenty, their leaves trembling incessantly in the slightest breeze. There might have also have been some fruit orchards planted nearby – the 1873 map certainly shows them. But otherwise, it would have been open country, rolling meadows star-scattered with trees, and striped across by two roads; the Camino Real, the King’s road, towards Nacogdoches in the east, and the road towards the south, towards the Rio Grande. In the distance to the north, a long blue-green rise of hills marks the edge of what today is called the Balcones Escarpment. It is the demarcation between a mostly flat and fertile plain which stretches to the Gulf Coast, and the high and windswept plains of the Llano, haunted by fierce and war-loving Indians.

This is the place where three very different men came to, in that fateful year that the Texians rebelled against the rule of the dictatorship of what the knowledgeable settlers of Texas called the “Centralistas” – the dictatorship of the central government in Mexico City.

(More to follow)

Clay Aiken’s Gay?

I’m SHOCKED, shocked I tell you…

Other things I’m shocked about:

Senator Barack Obama is black.

Senator John McCain is white.

Governor Sarah Palin is hot.

Senator Joe Biden’s mouth moves faster than his brain.

700 billion dollars could possibly be spent on better things than bailing out rich guys who don’t know when to fold when they’re holding a pair of twos and there’s a nut flush showing on the table.

The Air Force is talking about bringing back Strategic Air Command and putting Space back in Colorado Springs.

Marines are just plain bad-ass.

Matt Damon is a fine writer/actor, but seriously, he should stay out of politics until he learns to Google.

Russia may not be the good buddies we thought they were in 1990.

Pakistan is shooting at U.S. troops on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.

Bill Clinton seems to be undermining the Obama campaign.

David Blaine’s latest stunt was preempted by the President’s speech and nobody cared.

Most of the people in Survivor Gabon aren’t who they say they are.

Tulsa

The Army tasks a brigade with a Homeland Security Mission.  Paul Watson – and 190 commentors-  promptly freak the f*** out and get their panties in a collective twist:

Ominously, the report states that, “The 1st BCT’s soldiers also will learn how to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.”

The unit would also be deployed to deal with hostile crowds of Americans in the aftermath of a massive economic depression, potential food riots and race riots, if one defines the term “crowd control” to match its reasonably applicable scenarios.

Calm down before you hurt yourself, please.

Stuff like this happens all the time – you just never notice.  Units get assignments like this like my Aunt Masie loads up on desert. It’s only news because of the novel command and control arrangement.

When you read about a battalion of Marines flying up to Yellowstone to help fight forest fires?  Secondary tasking.  The jarheads who deployed to support the National Guard in LA last time they had a riot?  Secondary tasking.  Those guys were already on call for that stuff and had a modest amount of training for the task.  Sometimes very modest but there you go.

And .. seriously.  So ‘they’ are planning an October Surprise.  What in the world is a brigade combat team going to do?  It’s a battalion of infantry, with guns and air support.  Call if 5,000 guys at the most.

It’s a big country.  If the entire place goes up in flame and smoke, a BCT is going to be a drop of water on a hot grill.

So the Army could send a brigade to take over … Tulsa.  And if they want Tulsa they can have it.

Cross posted to Space For Commerce.

Pass the Popcorn

Professor Larry Sabato on what happens if the electoral college is tied, throwing the contest to the House.

Summary: it’s going to be a rannygazoo bigger than a three-ring circus featuring Siamese elephants joined at the trunk and a three-legged ringmaster. And an international embarrassment.

I don’t get that last. What in the world is embarrassing about a representative democracy operating according to the rules? Okay, yes, turmoil, dreaded turmoil. But that’s part of the fun and a result of the system being what it is.

Loosen up, Prof, get the popcorn out and enjoy the show.

Cross posted to Space For Commerce.

The Bandar-Log

Here we sit in a branchy row, thinking of beautiful things we know;
Dreaming of deeds that we mean to do, all complete, in a minute or two—
Something noble and wise and good, done by merely wishing we could…

In following the current twists and turns of the current election season, with particular attention to the hackerish little creeps who think it is an excellent thing to break into email accounts… tell me, why is it a Good Thing and entirely justifiable for people in sympathy with the Obama campaign to break into Governor Palin’s yahoo account, looking for incriminating evidence of dark plots and deeds… but it was a Bad Thing for Richard Nixon’s cabal of plumbers to break into the Watergate looking for incriminating evidence of dark deeds and plots? Oh yes, that was before you were born, probably. But they made a movie about it, so you must have heard about Simply Teh Greatest Political Crime EVER!!!! Just sit down, and think about this real hard. And look up the definition of hypocrisy, while you are at it.

Bottom line, for those of you whose moral sense is situational – if it is a crime for free-lance or paid operatives to break into another party’s HQ, operating office, personal email account… whatever, on a fishing expedition – than it is a crime all the way around, no matter how justified you think you are in your motivation. Those of your friends, teachers, college professors and fellow Kossacks who may have been insisting otherwise? They are wrong. I would advise you to stop listening to people like that.

I would also stop paying much attention to our Major Media Creatures and those who keep popping out of their ol’ golden rolodex to screech about Sarah Palin. Just a quick look down some of those crazier rants (especially the ones by foreigners) about the suddenly front-and-center Governor of Alaska — her relative inexperience, all around tackiness, blue-collar-ness, lack of capital-F feminist credentials, religious beliefs, et cetera gives cause for serious head shaking. Jeeze, people, get a grip! Take a valium. (In the case of Heather Mallick, take a lot of valium. In the case of Sandra Bernhard, a lot of valium, a lot of scotch and please review a basic human anatomy text.) Pouring all this vitriol on someone you probably didn’t even know about three weeks ago seems kind of… I don’t know, unbalanced? She’s only been front and center on the major American political scene for three weeks, and she is already attracting a degree of odium usually reserved for someone who has been around for a bit, and done some bad things. Like a reckless, grandstanding, philanderer with a taste for shady friends. But enough about Bill Clinton.

And then there the not-terribly-surprising discovery by Rusty Shackleford at The Jawa Report that certain alleged and dubious factoids about Governor Palin which suddenly began sprouting like toadstools after a rain were actually planted by the minions and employees of a well-known and well-connected publicity firm, in the sure and certain knowledge that the howler monkeys of the KOSsacks left would fall on them as if on a tasty treat and repeat them incessantly.

All the talk we ever have heard, uttered by bat or beast or bird—
Hide or fin or scale or feather— Jabber it quickly and all together!
Excellent! Wonderful! Once again! Now we are talking just like men!

Of course, once this precious little piece of Astroturf was tracked to it’s originating point, everything got yanked, with the speed of a cartoon character at the end of a long piece of elastic band. Note to self – every time I start to notice the same poisonous little factoid appearing spontaneously and simultaneously in – blog entries and blog comments, from out of the mouths of the dumber Hollywood celebs and the sort of TV commenter who goes from rational to spittle-fleck rant in thirty seconds flat, I will assume that some busy little astoturfers have been at work, behind the scenes. And that someone like Rusty or another enthusiast will be able to track it back to the originating source. It’s not like you can launch damaging rumors without leaving any marks, people. The internet never forgets. The tracks are always there, especially when someone does a screen-capture or downloads a file.

Finally, the recent request from the Big O for his minions to really get out there and go all righteous in confronting those of us who are less than fully enamored – great idea! Yeah, people just love getting hectored and bulled, and called names like ‘racist’ and ‘hater’. My suggestion – put on a leather teddy, spike heels and fishnet stockings. Brandish a leather crop, too. You might not get anywhere politically with that scenario, but at least that part of the audience who is into playing kinky submissive games will get some cheap thrills, while the rest of us look on in amusement.

Damn, did this election season get interesting all of a sudden. Who’d a thunk it possible, back in January, 2008.

iTunes Genius

I finally got around to playing with the iTunes Genius feature last night.  Basically, you pick a song from your library, Apple then recommends new music from their store which will go good with it.  I mostly ignore this part, because it mostly recommends music I already own, although I may not have purchased it from the iTunes store.  Click the genius button, and it will suggest a playlist of 25, 50, 75 or 100 songs from your library.  You can save that playlist or refresh it a couple times to see if there aren’t other matches.

Most of the time I got some really good songs that I may not have put together myself.  As far as I can tell, the “Genius” makes it’s matches from “similar artists,” “year song was released,” “beats per minute,” and “genre.”  “Jersey Girl” by Tom Waits gave me everything from Springsteen’s “Nebraska” to “Romeo’s Tune” by Steve Forbert to “Stuck Between Stations” by The Hold Steady to “Not Fade Away” by The Crickets.  Those feel right.  But it also gave me “Angel From Montgomery” by Bonne Raitt/John Prine, “Handbags and Gladrags” by Rod Stewart, and “Tumbling Dice” by the Stones.  And Dylan…lots of Bob Dylan.  So maybe there’s a “Gravel In Their Voice” category in the database that doesn’t show on the front end.

I basically like Genius.  I’m lazy.  When I try to make playlists myself, I over-think my way into complete paralysis.  I’m not completely in synch with the Genius, but it does give me a good starting point.

The initial setup takes some time, so before you download it and set it up, understand that depending on the size of your collection, you’re probably going to need at least an hour.  And Apple will read your entire library before it sends a copy of that list to itself.  If you’re afraid of Apple knowing what’s in your library, you’re not going to choose to do this.  Personally, I bought and paid for all of my music, not all from iTunes, but it’s all bought and paid for so I don’t much care if they know or not.

Wander my freaks

We’ve committed to a re-commitment ceremony. We’ve settled on a style that fits us, the monkeys are thrilled with the formal wear we’ve settled on ..

Kilts! And bagpipes!

That’s my daughter. She is fifteen.

Oh … my … gawd you people are freaks! I’m the only normal person here!

Phht: Kilts are cool. And it’s not bagpipes plural – just a recording [1] that I’m mulling over for the set [2] you play when you’re getting ready for the show to start.

Nothing set in stone – and we’ve got a year to nail this sucker down.

Anyway – she’s my coolth gauge.  When she goes high and to the right, I know that I’m spot on.

Cross posted to Space For Commerce.

[1] I like this one too.  The opening is a bit .. heavy .. for an intimate gathering, perhaps.

[2] The themes that run through the Battlestar Galactica soundtrack really hit me in the gut.  Redemption, Reunification … hey it’s a re-commitment ceremony, right?

The Persistence of Plastic Turkey Memory

A running gag at Tim Blair’s blog over the last five years or so has been reports of the appearance of the eternal bird in the dribblings of various writers, entertainers and columnists. That is, a sneering reference to the pictures of President Bush holding a supposedly plastic turkey, in a series of pictures taken at his surprise Thanksgiving visit to troops in Iraq five years ago. Explained and debunked over and over again by eyewitnesses that it was a real turkey, for display at the steam tables where the main entrée was being dished out, put together by the mess-hall staff and that such displays are actually commonplace at military mess halls… the plasticized version of this meme appears yet again, unscathed, rather like a turkey-shaped Freddy Kruger. The bird is not only the word, it is eternal. (Spotted yet again this very morning, as I contemplated this essay while being dragged around the block by the dogs.)

Obviously, this is a convenient short-hand for the people who enjoy sneering at George W. Bush and are too damned lazy to rustle up something a little more current than the old plastic turkey story. Tim Blair and his commenters get a lot of mileage – and a lot of hearty chortling – but the fact that the meme is still current after five years and a ton of energetic debunking is kind of depressing. It proves that Joseph Goebbels was on to something when he observed the effectiveness of telling a big lie and sticking to it… even at the cost of looking ridiculous. If a story is repeated often enough, it will be believed by a depressingly large number of people: 9/11 was an inside plot by the Bush Administration, Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans was completely blameless in the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the 2000 election was stolen, the Swiftboat veterans’ claims about John Kerry were all debunked, that US government were Saddam Hussein’s biggest supplier of military equipment… oh, add your own favorite here, the list is practically endless.

Such memes persist because they are repeated incessantly by all sorts of people, against all available evidence to the contrary. The most depressing aspect is that in a lot of cases they are repeated by media figures that once I would have expected better from – and applauded by audiences that I also expected better of. (Garrison Keillor being a particular offender. I can barely stand to listen to Prairie Home Companion these days, and I used to love that show.) Now I only hope for better. Sad to say, that hope is growing fainter and fainter by the hour… especially over the last two weeks. As if it wasn’t bad enough to suspect our very own dear media folks of being lazy and careless in vetting stories in the last election cycle, as if it wasn’t bad enough that 60 Minutes could air a blatant hit piece just before election day, based on shaky fact-checking and dubious memos in an attempt to throw the election to John Kerry… as if the hurricane of vitriol this time around didn’t reach a new and unexplored depths with the Palin-faked-pregnancy story, now it looks as if mainstream media has moved solidly into place as a propaganda arm of the Obama Democrats.

Not just the dirt-digging on Governor Palin – it’s the asymmetrical dirt-digging. Plus the final edit of her interview with Charles Gibson, with her answers judiciously edited to put the worst complexion on them… (sample of it here) plus the staging of it in the studio, plus his hectoring manner, so very different from his interview with Senator Obama. Really, it does give one pause. Then consider the cover shoot of Senator McCain, for the Atlantic Magazine, with such very artistic and well-considered outtakes doctored by the photographer….

Just some examples from the last couple of weeks… but still, very revealing ones, about the various aspects of the current political scene. I wouldn’t go so far as to make a blanket insistence that the whole lot are in the tank for the Obama campaign… but I sure as hell wouldn’t assume anything about their impartiality, either. Were I a media advisor to a Republican nominee to high office, I’d certainly be advising a quick pre-interview google-search of the interviewer’s name… and for the nominee to bring along his or her own own camera crew.

(Thanks Sigivald – corrected!)

If You Like Michigan’s Economy, You’ll Love Obama’s

If You Like Michigan’s Economy, You’ll Love Obama’s

Mr. McCain will lower taxes. Mr. Obama will raise
them, especially on small businesses. To understand why, you need to
know something about the “infamous” top 1% of income tax filers: In
order to avoid high corporate tax rates and the double taxation of
dividends, small business owners have increasingly filed as individuals
rather than corporations. When Democrats talk about soaking the rich,
it isn’t the Rockefellers they’re talking about; it’s the companies
where most Americans work. Three out of four individual income tax
filers in the top 1% are, in fact, small businesses.

In the name of taxing the rich, Mr. Obama would raise
the marginal tax rates to over 50% on millions of small businesses that
provide 75% of all new jobs in America. Investors and corporations will
also pay higher taxes under the Obama program, but, as the
Michigan-Ohio-Illinois experience painfully demonstrates, workers
ultimately pay for higher taxes in lower wages and fewer jobs.

Mr. Obama would spend all the savings from walking out
of Iraq to expand the government. Mr. McCain would reserve all the
savings from our success in Iraq to shrink the deficit, as part of a
credible and internally consistent program to balance the budget by the
end of his first term. Mr. Obama’s program offers no hope, or even a
promise, of ever achieving a balanced budget.

Mr. Obama would stimulate the economy by increasing
federal spending. Mr. McCain would stimulate the economy by cutting the
corporate tax rate. Mr. Obama would expand unionism by denying workers
the right to a secret ballot on the decision to form a union, and would
dramatically increase the minimum wage. Mr. Obama would also expand the
role of government in the economy, and stop reforms in areas like tort
abuse.

The states have already tested the McCain and Obama
programs, and the results are clear. We now face a national choice to
determine if everything that has failed the families of Michigan, Ohio
and Illinois will be imposed on a grander scale across the nation. In
an appropriate twist of fate, Michigan and Ohio, the two states that
have suffered the most from the policies that Mr. Obama proposes, have
it within their power not only to reverse their own misfortunes but to
spare the nation from a similar fate.

Cross posted to Space For Commerce.

Maybe it’s not the camera…

My mom spent my entire lifetime taking family pictures. And we have photo album after photo album filled with pictures of people missing either their heads or their feet.

Finally, in the early 90s, my mom invested a couple hundred dollars in a 35mm point & shoot camera (most money she ever spent on a camera). Oddly enough, the new, fancy camera still cut off people’s heads or feet in the pictures she took. Mom blamed the camera.

We laugh, of course, because it was obviously Mom who was cutting off the heads or feet of the folks in the picture, not the camera. It was all in how she framed her shots.

Reader’s Digest had a story once, in one of their humor sections… a famous photographer had some folks over for a slide-show presentation of his trip to somewhere exotic (Alaska, Antarctica, wherever). As the guests were leaving, someone’s wife said to him – “Those are wonderful photographs. You must have a very expensive camera.” He smiled and thanked her. A while later, he was invited to a dinner party at that family’s house. He attended, and enjoyed a delicious meal. As he was leaving, he said to the hostess: “That was a delicious dinner. You must have very expensive cookware.”

It’s absurd to think that fancy cookware is all that’s needed to make an excellent dinner. Why then, do folks think a fancy camera is all that’s needed for good photos? It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer. A skilled photographer can take excellent photos with a crappy camera. Granted, good photos are easier with a good camera, but it’s ultimately the skill of the photographer that counts.

Case in point… for years, I had a 2.1mp digital camera. Folks would talk about how important it was to have higher megapixels, and faster shutter speeds, less lag between the time you click the shutter button and when the picture is actually taken. People would talk about how they missed shots because their camera wasn’t fast enough. And they needed more megapixels so they could print bigger pictures, because a 2.1mp camera just can’t give you a good 8×10 picture.

Now, I’m not against better cameras, don’t get me wrong. But I printed many good quality 8×10 photos from my 2.1mp camera. And I got many good action shots (in bright light) from my impossibly slow camera.

Because I knew how to take pictures. I had learned over the years, by practice and by reading everything I could get my hands on about the art of picture-making.

If you want an action shot, you don’t wait until the last minute to try and get it. You anticipate it. If your camera is slow, then not only do you anticipate where the action will be, you half-press the shutter button to set the focus, and keep it there until the action happens.

For instance, each of these photos was taken with my very old, very slow, 2.1mp camera, using the method I just mentioned:

Every time I’m on a message board and I see someone post “Wow, great pictures! What kind of camera do you have?” I cringe, because asking that question implies that the CAMERA is the reason the photos are so good, not the photographer. If they’re asking me, I smile politely and answer the question. Maybe they’re in the market for a new camera, after all.

But I know for a fact that there are people in this world who think that if they can only buy the correct camera, all their picture taking problems will be solved. And it’s NOT true. A camera is only a tool, not a miracle-machine. It’s up to the person using the tool to create the good picture.

UPDATE: The camera I used for the above pics, as well as my current camera both have a “fully manual” mode. My original digicam was an Olympus C2100-UZ (ultra zoom). Lens by Canon, 10x Optical zoom, 2.1mp. And yet I printed some very nice 8×10 pics (and 11×17, as well) with it. A lot of the print quality rests in the processing of the photo before sending it off to print, in my opinion.

My current is a Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ20. Leica lens, 5mp, 10x optical zoom (maybe 12x? Don’t remember off-hand). It supports additional lenses/filters, has a hot-shoe for external flash, costs 1/2 to 1/3 what a dSLR would have cost me at the time, and I don’t have to lug around a bunch of lenses. My back loves it. Yeah, I’d love to have the newer FZ-whatever, with slightly shorter lag-times, and more ISO equivalencies (mine sucks at low-light shooting), but this one is good enough for now.

I have another Panasonic that I take on business trips – it fits in my backpack or my pocket, and does what I need. It’s their Lumix TZ-1. Lens by Leica, 10x optical zoom, 5mp.

I won’t invest in a dSLR until I’m ready to go back to the world of manual shooting, and I’ve really enjoyed using the auto feature and letting my camera do the thinking for me. But my FZ20 supports fully manual mode, so as long as it’s doing what I need, why change it?

Fringe

Just watched the encore presentation of the first episode.

And if I’m not mistaken, Doll House will be on Fox as well.

Why is Fox doing better SciFi than The SciFi Channel?

Yet Another Explaination of the Palin Appeal

OK, so I laughed so hard at this I almost shot chardonnay out of my nose…

Courtesy of Rantburg, my source for all things sarcastic and political.

Later – this interesting Youtube version of a certain Disney movie. Watch it quick, before the Mouse Kingdom begins carrying on about copyright infringement… (also courtesty of Rantburg… www.rantburg.com)