Monday, November 14, 2005

What I Believe

William Least Heat Moon’s book Blue Highways notes the Two Commandments of the Hopi Indians: “Try to understand things” and “Don’t go around hurting people.” That's a good start. I wouldn't object much if somebody wanted that in their courthouse.

It's occurred to me that the programmer's question: "Does it scale?" is simply a special case of the Golden Rule. We should conduct ourselves ethically because otherwise, things will be worse for everyone.

"Does it scale?" To take a trivial case: I signal when I change lanes because I want to live in a society in which people signal their lane changes. But that's also exactly why I don't rob banks. And so forth.

Believing falsehoods is wrong. Propagating them is worse. "Democracy," said GB Shaw, "will never be a workable form of government until the common man resents a fallacy as much as an insult."

"Mencken's Creed" comes pretty close to What I Believe:

I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind - that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.
I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious.
I believe that all government is evil, in that all government must necessarily make war upon liberty...
I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and deserves no more respect.
I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech...
I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and how it is run.
I believe in the reality of progress.
I - But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant.

"Shake off all the fears and servile prejudices under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." --Thomas Jefferson

Physicist Steven Weinberg:

"With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion.

"...I learned that the aim of this conference is to have a constructive dialogue between science and religion. I am all in favor of a dialogue between science and religion, but not a constructive dialogue. One of the great achievements of science has been, if not to make it impossible for intelligent people to be religious, then at least to make it possible for them not to be religious. We should not retreat from this accomplishment. "

Moving from the general to the more specific: My father's Four-Fold Path of the Things That Make Life Worth Living: girls, cars, cameras, and audio.

And continuing the move downscale to the details, some principles that guide my photography:

"The virtue of the camera is not the power it has to transform the photographer into an artist, but the impulse it gives him to keep on looking." - Brooks Anderson

"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

"No place is boring, if you've had a good night's sleep and have a pocket full of unexposed film." - Robert Adams

"Anything more than 500 yards from the car just isn't photogenic." - Edward Weston

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Up against the wall

Come the revolution, the guys who spec'd the "USB" connector(s) are going to be held to account.

The teenager seems to have mislaid the digital-camera-to-USB cable. the threats have escalated, but it still has not turned up. Time to buy a replacement/spare.

In my innocence, _I_ thought that there were FOUR kinds of connectors called "USB". Then I went out to buy the one I needed.
Turns out that there are at least EIGHT. It's not just "A" and "B" in male and female: no, there's also "Mini". In 5-wire and 4-wire versions, male and female.

(see, frex the list of THIRTY-FIVE "USB" connectors at : )

Which would be fine: After all, Mao taught us, "Let a thousand flowers bloom, let them contend" etc.

a) Why are they ALL called "USB" ?
b) Why aren't they all available in the storewhen you need them ??

This could be the foundation of a political party: "Find those responsible for the USB-connector spec and bring them to justice."

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Friday, November 11, 2005

Traditional Marriage

I've been arguing with my conservative pal about Gay Marriage. he thinks it'll destroy 'traditional marriage' but won't say just how. I think it's just a simple matter of "equal protection under the law." The 14th Amendment should apply.

(There's also the fact that this country attaches access to health care to one's employment status: if we won't let gays marry, we really should let domestic partners have affordable health care.)

I got to brooding about the idea of "traditional marriage" and it occurred to me that it's already gone: marriage has been in a process of redefinition for centuries, but back in the '80s, the last major inequality was removed: marital rape was criminalized. That's a pretty profound redefinition.[more to follow]

Ah, the internet: Three different sources cite three different "First State to criminalize marital rape":
1)"Another reform has made marital rape a crime in many circumstances, with South Dakota becoming the first state to institute such law reforms in 1975."
2) "1976:Nebraska becomes the first state to abolish the marital rape exemption."
3) "Oregon first state to repeal marital exemptions in rape statute (1977). "
Find a link and take your pick, I guess.

Sol Wachtler was the judge in NYS who overturned it here.

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Just like Christmas

Today (Veterans Day) is a holiday, and a cold winter morning. I slept in late, stumbled downstairs to make coffee, and - when I opened the door to compost the old coffee grounds - there on the porch was a FedEx package. It really felt like Christmas morning. What could it be?

Why, Freestyle came through with my Rodinal order! They had back-ordered me a couple weeks ago, and - as Agfa has stopped production - I assumed that it would never come.

When it didn't come from Freestyle in LA, I turned around and ordered some from Unique in NJ, which arrived a week ago, in about 36 hours. Now I seem to have a lifetime supply fully two liters. At 1:100, that's 800 rolls of 35mm; but still 200 rolls even at a more rational 1:25 dilution. (Which sounds like an insane amount of film, but I seem to have something like 140 rolls of B&W on hand....)

Poking around my darkroom, I find that my lifetime supply of Rapid Fix is looking pretty dubious. I may need to buy some useable fixer before I proceed here.

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Paying it forward

On Tuesday morning, my old buddy Rod turned on the Bat Signal: his son Andrew (now 19 and a college sophomore) is taking a photogrpahy course and could use a camera, as Rod's hand-me-down Oly gear is falling apart.

"What I’m leaning towards right now is an older manual focus system, and even manual exposure system, though one that can do aperture priority and shutter priority exposure (as well as manual) would be okay. He needs a 30ish to 70ish zoom or near normal fixed lens and a 70ish to 200ish longer zoom as well.

"So my question is, what do you recommend, and more importantly, perhaps one of you has some equipment we could buy or rent."

Well, he's come to the right place. I just happen to have a spare F3. And a drawer full of spare lenses.

It went out Thursday.

Nearly thirty years ago, back on 25th Street, Rod was the guy who taught me how to load and develop film.

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Friday, November 04, 2005

Stock up before the hoarders

First it was120 kodachrome, which I missed (mid-'90s). Then K25, which I also missed ( a couple years ago).. Last year, it was Tech Pan, which I actually heard about in time to stock up on some cans of bulk. Agfa 25 went away at some point, too. This spring, EK discontinued B&W paper, but I have too much paper already.

Agfa has been in bankrupcy twice this year: in October, they announced that the rescue negiotations had failed, and production would cease by the end of the year. I made an efffort to stock up on Rodinal. B&H won't ship. Central Camera in Chicago has some in -store, but they don't list it on-line. Out at Adorama. Not at Ritz. Freestyle lists it, took my money, but it's back-ordered. When the shipment arrived, no Rodinal, so I ordered more from Unique.

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