Categories
News-esque

Why saint patrick should be celebrated with lowercase letters

For your daily dose of font nerdery1

The 26 Letters by Oscar Ogg

A few years back, Jasper Bear, one of The Globe’s founders (I designed their logo), gave me a wonderful book called “The 26 Letters” by Oscar Ogg, which was all about the development of the 26 letters of today’s alphabet. Jasper knows I’m a font geek (ahem, “letterforms enthusiast”) from way back.

Anyway, the book’s retelling of St. Patrick’s story was interesting, not only because of his escape from his Roman captors, but because of his invention:

St. Patrick invented lower case letters.

In Ireland, a Celtic land, people used an uncial alphabet. It kind of looks like the writing on the Lord of the Rings cover. When the Christians came with the Bible, it was written in a Roman alphabet, which at the time was all upper-case, like the writing you see on buildings.

St. Patrick devised a transitional alphabet designed to serve between the Roman and Uncial alphabets. Today we call it lower case.

[Click to continue reading why saint patrick’s day should be celebrated with lowercase letters « arellanes.com]

Patri

Much better reason to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than watery, domestic that’s been tinted green with Monsanto-created food dyes…

Steel cut Irish Oatmeal

Footnotes:
  1. is that a word? Whatever []
Categories
News-esque

Iraq War Triumphalism Ignores Dead Civilians

David Corn counters the Iraq-War-was-a-Success-Chest-Thumpers who recently have crawled out of the wreckage of the Bush (mal)Administration to blather on the Sunday talk show circuit. By what metric was this voluntary and unnecessary war a successes?

Memorials

But, of course, the ultimate outcome of the Iraq war — whatever the results of the latest election — remains unknown. And we can continue to debate whether Bush was justified in launching the war, whether he bamboozled the public about the threat Saddam Hussein supposedly posed, and whether Bush’s late surge did help nudge Iraq in a better (or less worse) direction. (It does take chutzpah to hail the Bush administration for the surge, after this crew spent years screwing up in Iraq.) Yet what is galling is the frequent absence from these discussions of a central fact: tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Iraqis are dead because of the war, and millions have been displaced, driven out of their homes and out of their country. …

In the United States, debates about the war often cover the obvious costs: U.S. military casualties (4,380), taxpayer money ($711 billion), and opportunities missed (Afghanistan). What often goes unmentioned is the high cost that was imposed upon the Iraqi people. Have you seen George W. Bush or Dick Cheney ever directly talk about the thousands who died and the millions who had to flee?

There’s no precise number of the Iraqi civilians who lost their lives due to the war. In August 2008, a Congressional Research Service report surveyed the various estimates. It noted that a World Health Organization study covering the first three years of the war had placed the civilian death toll at 151,999. A Brookings Institution study put the number at 113,616 for the first five years. Whatever the figure, it’s a lot — and this doesn’t include Iraqis who were physically or mentally injured and did not die. In per capita terms, the equivalent death figure for the United States would be over a million people. And war-related deaths are far from over in Iraq. Last month, the civilian death toll jumped to 211 people from 135 in January.

[Click to continue reading Iraq War Triumphalism Ignores a Key Matter: Dead Civilians — Politics Daily]

It isn’t too late to hold war crime trials in the Hague, is it?

Categories
News-esque

FBI Bumbles Anthrax case to a close

Incompetence is what this sounds like to me. Dick Cheney probably ordered the anthrax attacks.

Recovery.gov

More than eight years after anthrax-laced letters killed five people and terrorized the country, the F.B.I. on Friday closed its investigation, adding eerie new details to its case that the 2001 attacks were carried out by Bruce E. Ivins, an Army biodefense expert who killed himself in 2008.

[Click to continue reading F.B.I. Concludes Investigation in Fatal Anthrax Mailings – NYTimes.com]

Didn’t solve anything, didn’t discover the truth. The eerie new details probably wouldn’t stand up in open court, and Ivins is dead anyway, and cannot defend himself.

Categories
News-esque religion

Eruvin Damaged in Manhattan

The Eruv (ערוב‎ )1 is one of the odder2 Jewish traditions. Basically, Orthodox Jews are able to skirt various rules of their faith by means of a string – pretending that the city streets in their neighborhood are an extension of their homes. We joke about it frequently, using metaphorical eruvs in non-religious contexts.

Trying to disappear

From Washington to New York State, a series of “snowmageddons” have wreaked a particular form of havoc for Orthodox Jews.

The storms have knocked down portions of the ritual boundary known as an eruv in Jewish communities in Silver Spring, Md., Center City Philadelphia, the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Monsey in suburban New York, and Teaneck and Passaic in New Jersey.

Almost literally invisible even to observant Jews, the wire or string of an eruv, connected from pole to pole, allows the outdoors to be considered an extension of the home. Which means, under Judaic law, that one can carry things on the Sabbath, an act that is otherwise forbidden outside the house.

Prayer shawls, prayer books, bottles of wine, platters of food and, perhaps most important, strollers with children in them — Orthodox Jews can haul or tote such items within the eruv. When a section of an eruv is knocked down by, let’s say, a big snowstorm, then the alerts go out by Internet and robocall, and human behavior changes dramatically.

Call it a case of absence as a form of presence. Conceive of the eruv and its tenders as the sets and stagehands of a Broadway show. You sit there in the audience, and whether the play is scintillating or tedious, most times you don’t notice or even think much about all the lights and scenery that are hitting their cues. Only if the expectedly ordinary goes haywire do you notice the offstage apparatus.

[Click to continue reading On Religion – On Religion – A Jewish Ritual Collides With Mother Nature – NYTimes.com]

I’ve heard there are eruvin in Skokie, but I haven’t run across one yet. Probably in Rogers Park near Devon as well, but I don’t know specifically.

From

From the Wikipedia entry for eruv

Though a valid eruv enables people to carry or move most items outdoors on Shabbat, all other Shabbat restrictions still apply. These prohibitions include:
Objects that are muktzah may not be handled anywhere on Shabbat, indoors or outdoors.
Opening an umbrella is analogous to erecting a tent, which falls under the category of construction. Since umbrellas may not be opened, they are muktzah and may not be handled.
To protect the sanctity of Shabbat, one may not perform typical weekday activities (uvdin d’chol). The precise scope of this prohibition is subject to a wide range of rabbinic opinion.
One may not carry or move items in preparation for a post-Shabbat activity (hakhana), unless one has a legitimate use for them on Shabbat itself.
Sports involve several issues. Many authorities consider balls muktzah; others do not. In general, sports that result in holes or ruts being carved into the playing surface may be played only on surfaces that are not subject to such damage. Exercise of any kind is forbidden on Shabbat unless it is done solely for the pleasure of the activity itself, rather than for health or some other reason.

[From Eruv – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

and the basis of the whole practice

There are 39 categories of activity prohibited on Shabbat. On Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath), the Torah forbids moving an object from one domain to another, no matter its weight or purpose. According to Torah law as understood by the Talmud, this encompasses three actions: Moving an object from an enclosed area (such as a private home, public building, or fenced-in area) to a major thoroughfare, moving an object from a major thoroughfare to an enclosed area, or moving an object more than four cubits within a major thoroughfare. To prevent confusion over exactly what constitutes a major thoroughfare, the rabbis expanded the ban to any area that was not fenced or walled in.

An additional, rabbinic prohibition, which Jewish tradition ascribes to the religious court of King Solomon, forbids carrying in any area that was shared by the occupants of more than one dwelling, even if surrounded by fences or walls. But, in this case of areas surrounded by walls, carrying was allowed through the use of an eruv. The eruv consists of a food item – in general bread – that is shared by all dwellers. By means of this shared meal, all the dwellers are considered as if they were living in a common dwelling, thus exempting them from the added prohibition. The prohibition against carrying on the sabbath received special mention in the prophecy of Jeremiah, who warned the people of Jerusalem to “beware for your souls and carry no burden on the Sabbath day” (Jeremiah 17:21).

And it shall be if you hearken to Me, says the Lord, not to bring any burden into the gates of this city on the Sabbath day and to hallow the Sabbath day not to perform any labor thereon, Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on David’s throne, riding in chariots and with horses, they and their princes the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and this city shall be inhabited forever. (Jeremiah 17:24-26)

The Radak, a medieval Jewish commentator on the Prophets, opined that the reason Jeremiah referred to carrying a burden through the gates of the city is that Jerusalem had an eruv and its walls formed the boundary, so carrying within the city was permitted. This view that an entire city could have an eruv influenced later views that an eruv could encompass a “courtyard” covering a wide area. The Radak also held that the reference to “kings” rather than a single king refers to future kings yet to come, and hence that this prophecy, with its stress on the importance and redemptive power of observing the prohibition against carrying a burden on Shabbat outside an eruv, remains available to this day.The Talmud, in Tractate Shabbat, opined that consistent observance of Shabbat could bring redemption to the Jewish people.

Seems like a lot of hassle, but whatever floats your string…

Footnotes:
  1. hmm, wonder how the plural is translated? I see both Eruvin and Eruvim. Wonder which is correct? []
  2. to me, anyway, but then most of religious doctrine is odd []
Categories
humor News-esque

God Is Even Angrier With Chile

If you can’t make fun of gasbags like Pat Robertson, what fun is blogging?

Citing what he described as the “the persecution of a great hero who rid their land of Godless communists” as a possible cause, prominent TV evangelist and amateur seismologist Pat Robertson today argued that the 8.8 magnitude of the earthquake that struck Chile early this morning should serve as a warning to the population that “God is even angrier with them than he is with the people of Haiti.”

“If I had to guess, I’d say it must have to do with Chile’s persecution and attempted prosecution of their great former leader, and a personal hero of mine, Augusto Pinochet – who, it should be noted, had never been convicted of a crime when the Lord called him home three years ago.” The popular host of ‘The 700 Club’ and longtime bingo circuit icon also added, “General Pinochet not only assisted the CIA in the overthrow of Chile’s Marxist government, but is widely credited with personally arranging the meetings of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of his countrymen with Jesus.”

[Click to continue reading Robertson: “God Even Angrier with Chile than Haiti” – The Desperate Blogger – Open Salon ]

Categories
News-esque

Farewell to The Eyrie Mansion

You really should read Roger Ebert’s delightful memoir of the eccentric1 hotel on London’s Jermyn Street, originally called Eyrie Mansion.

John Major is a Twat

That first morning I walked down Regent Street to St James’s Park, strolled around the ponds, came up by Prince Charles’s residence, climbed St James’s Street and returned the full length of Jermyn. I ordered tea. It consisted of tomato, cucumber and butter sandwiches, which the English are unreasonably fond of; ham and butter sandwiches, which I am unreasonably fond of with Colman’s English mustard; and cookies – or, excuse me, biscuits.

I had just settled in my easy chair when a key turned in the lock and a nattily dressed man in his 60s let himself in. He held a bottle of Teacher’s scotch under his arm. He walked to the sideboard, took a glass, poured a shot, and while filling it with soda from the siphon, asked me, “Fancy a spot?”

“I’m afraid I don’t drink,” I said.

“Oh, my.”

This man sat on my sofa, lit a cigarette, and said: “I’m Henry.”

“Am I . . . in your room?”

“Oh, no, no, old boy! I’m only the owner. I dropped in to say hello.”

This was Henry Togna Sr. He appears in a Dickens novel I haven’t yet read. I’m sure of it. He appeared in my room almost every afternoon when I stayed at the Eyrie Mansion. It was not difficult to learn his story.

[Click to finish reading Roger Ebert: Farewell to my London home |Travel |The Guardian ]

Heathrow bound 1994 double exposure
Heathrow bound, circa 1993-1994

Though actually, when I spent a fortnight in London, the hotel had already switched hands to Henry Jr., and had lost a bit of its eccentricity. Not all mind you, but I might not have been able to afford staying there. Too bad.

(oh, almost forgot, this article originally appeared at Ebert’s blog, slightly longer, with more pictures. Really, the longer article is better, filled with more interesting details. You should read that instead…)

Footnotes:
  1. and soon to to be former []
Categories
News-esque

The Haiti Haters


“The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier” (Amy Wilentz)

David Brooks recently penned a vicious “genteel racist” column about Haiti, Amy Wilentz responded in The Nation:

RD659 Destruction

I’ve never seen victims so roundly blamed for their fate. David Brooks’s recent column in the New York Times–one of the paper’s most e-mailed articles the week it was published–blamed Haiti’s culture for the quake’s violence.

It is time,” Brooks writes sententiously, “to put the thorny issue of culture at the center of efforts to tackle global poverty. Why is Haiti so poor? Well, it has a history of oppression, slavery and colonialism. But so does Barbados, and Barbados is doing pretty well.

By all means, let’s turn to actual history, which Brooks has mangled. As has been mentioned repeatedly, the Haitian slaves rose up in 1791 and began what was to become the only successful slave revolution in modern history. That war ended, after much loss of life on both sides, with the establishment of the world’s first black republic, in 1804–just twenty-eight years after the American Declaration of Independence. The Haitians’ models were the American and French revolutions, and they based their ideas on the Declaration of the Rights of Man. But their revolution seems to have been a little premature for the tastes of the world in which they had to operate. Haiti was almost immediately saddled with a gargantuan and punitive reparations payment to France in exchange for recognition and the ability to engage in unhampered international trade. The wealthy, slaveholding United States did not recognize Haiti until 1862, after the Southern states seceded. Haiti has been a pariah nation for its entire history.

Barbados, on the other hand: the Barbadians made their bold stand for independence from Britain in… 1966. The British had already given up slavery more than a century earlier. It was an unbloody, negotiated independence, and Barbados is still a part of the British Commonwealth. In fact, its membership began on the date of independence, as did Jamaica’s, in 1962, when it shrugged off the very loose shackles of the remnant of British colonialism. The British were less brutal masters than the French, and in the eighteenth century it was probably wiser to remain a colony under them than, as the Haitians did, gain your freedom at the expense of your economic welfare.

Brooks goes on to discuss the Haitian family, seemingly basing his argument on a book by Lawrence Harrison, a conservative cultural critic who also knows nothing about Haiti. “Child-rearing practices” in Haiti, Brooks writes, “often involve neglect in the early years and harsh retribution when kids hit 9 or 10.” I don’t know where this assertion comes from, but it reminds me of nothing so much as Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s controversial and misguided report on the black family in the 1960s. I’ve never seen either of these child-rearing practices in my two decades of living in and covering Haiti. In fact, I see more parents carrying small children around in Haiti’s markets than I do at the farmers’ markets in Los Angeles. You can’t write these kinds of things about people whose culture and nation you respect. Nor would an editor permit you to say such things blithely about people who are considered our equals or are able to respond in equally august publications. Right now, the Haitians cannot–they’re too busy getting water for their neglected children.

[Click to continue reading The Haiti Haters]

Remember this next time someone quotes David Brooks to you: he is not an enlightened person, nor does he allow mere facts get in the way of his narrative.

V is for Victory

Matt Taibbi eviscerates David Brooks, even more bluntly, translating Brooks-ese into language like:

TRANSLATION: Although it is true that Haiti was just like five minutes ago a victim of a random earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people, I’m going to skip right past the fake mourning period and point out that Haitians are a bunch of lazy niggers who can’t keep their dongs in their pants and probably wouldn’t be pancaked under fifty tons of rubble if they had spent a little more time over the years listening to the clarion call of white progress, and learning to use a freaking T-square, instead of singing and dancing and dabbling in not-entirely-Christian religions and making babies all the fucking time. I know I’m supposed to respect other cultures and keep my mouth shut about this stuff, but my penis is only four and a third inches long when fully engorged and so I’m kind of at the end of my patience just generally, especially when it comes to “progress-resistant” cultures.

In an afterword appended later, Taibbi expands his point so there is no mistaking it:

But you know what? Next time there’s an earthquake in Russia or Georgia, I’m probably going to wait at least until they’re finished pulling the bodies of dead children out of the rubble before I start writing articles blasting a foreign people for being corrupt, lazy drunks with an unsatisfactorily pervasive achievement culture whose child-rearing responsibilities might have to be yanked from them by with-it Whitey for their own good.

An earthquake is nobody’s fault. There’s nothing to do after a deadly earthquake but express remorse and feel sorry. It’s certainly not the time to scoff at all the victim country’s bastard children and put it out there on the Times editorial page that if these goddamned peasants don’t get their act together after a disaster this big, it might just be necessary to start swinging the big stick of Paternalism at them.

I mean, shit, that’s what Brooks is doing here — that last part of the piece is basically a threat, he’s saying that Haiti might have to be FORCED to adopt “middle-class assumptions” and an “achievement ethos” because they’re clearly incapable of Americanizing themselves at a high enough rate of speed to please Brooks. That’s this guy’s immediate reaction to 50,000 people crushed to death in an earthquake. Metaphorically speaking, he’s standing over the rubble and telling the people trapped under there that they need more of a “No Excuses” culture, which is insane on many different levels.

Brooks’s implication that the Haitians wouldn’t have died in such great numbers had they been Americans is the kind of thing that is going to come back to bite us the next time we have a nuclear accident or a hurricane disaster or a 9/11 and we’re looking to the rest of the world for sympathy and understanding. The notion that these deaths aren’t an accident but someone’s fault, among other things someone’s fault because they practice an unhelpful sort of religion, is beyond offensive.

p.p.p.s And yes, Brooks is Jewish. So let’s say he’s doing his Judeo-Christian best. Again, this guy is saying that Haitians got killed in an earthquake because their religion makes them planning-averse. Are we really to believe that Haitians don’t live in earthquake-proof homes because of their religious beliefs? We have millions of Americans who literally believe the rapture is imminent — would Brooks expect them to blow off flood insurance?

National jokes like Pat Robertson or Rush Limbaugh can be easily dismissed when they make over-the-top assertions about international events like the Haiti earthquakes, but David Brooks is respected in a way those two jokers are not, thus David Brooks needs to be corrected when he is wrong, as in this instance1.

Footnotes:
  1. and many, many others, really, a large portion of this guy’s Op-Eds are factually challenged []
Categories
News-esque

Inventor Nikola Tesla Is Back in Tech Fashion

America sure loves its romantic failures: geniuses who were not properly appreciated in their lifetime. Add Nikola Tesla to the pantheon…

Homage to Tlaloc

Tesla has been rediscovered by technophiles, including Google Inc. co-founder Larry Page, who frequently cites him as an early inspiration. And Teslamania is going increasingly mainstream.

An early hint was “Tesla Girls,” a 1984 single from the British technopop band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Performance artist Laurie Anderson has said she was fascinated by Tesla. David Bowie played a fictionalized version of him in the 2006 film “The Prestige,” alongside Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. Director Terry Gilliam described Tesla in a recent documentary film as “more of an artist than a scientist in some strange way.”

Tesla, in short, is cool.

“He was a kind of crazy, interesting dude,” says Melody Pfeiffer, spokeswoman for the Dark Void game’s distributor, Capcom Entertainment.

Edison, meanwhile, is less au courant than he used to be, says Paul Israel, director of the Thomas Edison Papers, a scholarly project at Rutgers University, in Piscataway, N.J.

Many significant Edison inventions—including the phonograph and the motion-picture camera—are becoming historical curios. The European Union has banned old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs, another Edison innovation. The EU is urging consumers to replace them with more-efficient fluorescent lights descended from those Tesla favored.

“Edison is so 20th century, much like Henry Ford,” says Bernie Carlson, a professor of Science, Technology and Society at the University of Virginia.

[Click to continue reading Inventor Nikola Tesla Is Back in Tech Fashion – WSJ.com]
[non-WSJ subscribers use this link to read the entire article]

Edison is the curmudgeon in this passion play, the Bill Gates figure, crushing the spirit and finances of all who opposed him.

side note, the new electric super sports car, made by Tesla Motors, is still scheduled to open a few blocks from me. I saw their sign on the door, but the showroom isn’t open yet.

Then there is Dark Void:


“Dark Void” (Capcom)

The game’s story will center around a cargo pilot named William Augustus Grey (voiced by Nolan North) who crashes in the Bermuda Triangle. From there, he is teleported to a parallel universe where he encounters other humans, called Survivors. Together, Will and the survivors must battle an alien race known as the Watchers to return to Earth. The Watchers came from afar, making humans do their bidding, while being treated as gods. Eventually people known as Adepts emerged and banished the Watchers to the realm in which our pilot is trapped. With the help of Nikola Tesla, they retrofit Watcher technology to fight the Watchers.

Categories
humor News-esque

25 Blasphemous Quotations

Patri

There’s a bit of a dust-up in my mother country:

An atheist group in the Irish Republic1 has defied a new blasphemy law by publishing a series of anti-religious quotations on its website.

Atheist Ireland says it will fight any action taken against it in court. The quotations include the words of writers such as Mark Twain and Salman Rushdie, but also Jesus Christ, the Prophet Muhammad and Pope Benedict XVI.

The new law makes blasphemy a crime punishable by a fine of up to 25,000 euros (£22,000; $35,000). The government says it is needed because the republic’s 1937 constitution only gives Christians legal protection of their beliefs.

The new law was passed in July 2009 but came into force on 1 January.

[Click to continue reading BBC News – Irish atheists challenge blasphemy law]

Wages of Sin and a Pink Caddy

What kind of nonsense is this? Are there not more pressing items on the agenda than governments sticking finger in their ears to block out words they don’t want to hear? Anyway, the BBC, staid journalistic organization that it is, did not provide any samples of these quotations, so I had to find the site on my own.

Just a few excerpts, because I laughed at most, but you should read them yourself.

13. Bjork, 1995: “I do not believe in religion, but if I had to choose one it would be Buddhism. It seems more livable, closer to men… I’ve been reading about reincarnation, and the Buddhists say we come back as animals and they refer to them as lesser beings. Well, animals aren’t lesser beings, they’re just like us. So I say fuck the Buddhists.”

14. Amanda Donohoe on her role in the Ken Russell movie Lair of the White Worm, 1995: “Spitting on Christ was a great deal of fun. I can’t embrace a male god who has persecuted female sexuality throughout the ages, and that persecution still goes on today all over the world.”

Amanda Donohoe spitting on the cross

15. George Carlin, 1999: “Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!”

16. Paul Woodfull as Ding Dong Denny O’Reilly, The Ballad of Jaysus Christ, 2000: “He said me ma’s a virgin and sure no one disagreed, Cause they knew a lad who walks on water’s handy with his feet… Jaysus oh Jaysus, as cool as bleedin’ ice, With all the scrubbers in Israel he could not be enticed, Jaysus oh Jaysus, it’s funny you never rode, Cause it’s you I do be shoutin’ for each time I shoot me load.”

[Click to continue reading 25 Blasphemous Quotations « blog.atheist.ie]

Religion and its zealots, hissing with hysteria, are so damned ridiculous.

Footnotes:
  1. Is this the common term? Thought that was a defunct nation, a nation that existed from 1919 – 1922. Maybe the British press reverses the order of the words of the Republic of Ireland for some stylistic reason? []
Categories
News-esque

JFK photo fake of course

Anything sensational involving JFK and sex is grist for the mill of bottom-feeder websites like TMZ.

TMZ has obtained a never-before published photograph which appears to show John F. Kennedy on a boat filled with naked women — it’s a photo that could have altered world events.

We believe the photo was taken in the mid-1950s. It shows two naked women jumping off the boat and two more naked women sunning on the top deck. Just below the top deck — a man appearing to be John F. Kennedy is laying on a deck, sunning himself.

TMZ had multiple experts examine the photo — all say there is no evidence the picture was Photoshopped. The original print — which is creased — was scanned and examined for evidence of inconsistent lighting, photo composition and other forms of manipulation. The experts all concluded the photo appears authentic.

Professor Jeff Sedlik, a forensic photo expert, says the print appears to be authentic. Sedlik says the photo is printed on paper consistent with what was used in the 1950s. The emulsion on the surface of the print has numerous cracks — the result of aging and handling.

[Click to continue reading The JFK Photo That Could Have Changed History | TMZ.com]

except that within a few hours The Smoking Gun tracked down the original color photograph, published in a November 1967 issue of Playboy. Doh! These so-called forensic photo experts should be pretty embarrassed, and TMZ’s corporate parent1 better hope TMZ didn’t pay too much cash for the photo.

The Smoking Gun’s post, in part:

the photo appeared in story about Playboy’s “Charter Yacht Party: How to Have a Ball on the Briny with an Able-Bodied Complement of Ship’s Belles.” As seen in the below page from the November 1967 issue, the Playboy photo is in color. The “Exclusive” TMZ image is the same photo, just reproduced in black and white. [Click here for a side-by-side comparison of the original Playboy photo and the watermarked version published today by TMZ.] According to the web site, the photo was “eventually given to a man who owned a car dealership on the East coast. The man kept it in a drawer for years, and would brag to friends he had an image of JFK on a boat with naked women. The man died 10 years ago and one of his sons inherited the photo.” The gossip site offered no further details about the photo’s provenance or what they paid for the image. The site noted that “we believe the photo was taken in the mid-1950s,” likely while Kennedy was on a two-week “Mediterranean boating trip” with his brother Ted and Senator George Smathers. TMZ claimed to have consulted with “multiple experts,” including a forensic photo expert and two unnamed JFK biographers, as it sought to confirm that the late president was photographed surrounded by a quartet of naked women. According to the caption accompanying the Playboy photo spread, four couples were enjoying themselves on a trip to Petit Rameau, an island in the Grenadines. As “Andy” sunned himself on deck, “Elaine” dove naked into the water while “Roxanna” provocatively shimmied up a ladder. In an interview, Larry Dale Gordon, the Playboy photographer who took the yacht image, said that the man TMZ identified as Kennedy was a “paid model,” as were the naked women featured in the shot.

[Click to continue reading TMZ Falls For JFK Photo Hoax – December 28, 2009]

Too funny. And why would have been such a big deal anyway? JFK was a player, so what?

Footnotes:
  1. Time Warner, Inc., which coincidentally also owns The Smoking Gun []
Categories
News-esque Photography

BBC photographers are not a criminals either

So how many photos of St Paul’s Cathedral are taken every day? How easy would it be for someone to find a photo without even having to visit London? Pretty easy, methinks.1 Or just purchase a postcard, usually sold right in front of the building in question. And of course, what terrorist needs to have snapped art photos of architecturally and culturally significant buildings before planning their attack? None, remember? It’s just a movie plot, never happened in real life.

A BBC photographer was stopped from taking a picture of the sun setting by St Paul’s Cathedral in London. A real police officer and a fake “community support officer” stopped the photog and said he couldn’t take any pictures because with his professional-style camera, he might be an “al Qaeda operative” on a “scouting mission.” Now, St Paul’s is one of the most photographed buildings in the world (luckily, there is zero evidence that terrorists need photographs to plan their attacks), and presumably a smart al Qaeda operative with a yen to get some snaps would use a tiny tourist camera — or a hidden camera in his buttonhole. An ex-MP2 goes on to describe being stopped for talking into a hand-sized dictaphone in Trafalgar Square (where thousands of people talking in their phones — most of which have dictaphone capabilities — can be seen at any given time).

The real damage from terrorist attacks doesn’t come from the explosion. The real damage is done after the explosion, by the victims, who repeatedly and determinedly attack themselves, giving over reason in favor of terror. Every London cop who stops someone from taking a picture of a public building, every TSA agent who takes away your kid’s toothpaste, every NSA spook who wiretaps your email, does the terrorist’s job for him. Terrorism is about magnifying one mediagenic act of violence into one hundred billion acts of terrorized authoritarian idiocy. There were two al Qaeda operatives at St Paul’s that day: the cop and her sidekick, who were about Osama bin Laden’s business in London all day long.

[Click to continue reading BBC photographer prevented from shooting St Paul’s because he might be “al Qaeda operative” – Boing Boing]

Indeed.

video interview at the BBC:

BBC News photographer Jeff Overs was stopped and questioned for taking photographs in Westminster.
Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, for which he takes photographs, Mr Overs said he was worried that policing against terrorism was making the UK feel like “the Eastern Bloc”.

[Click to continue reading BBC News – BBC photographer on being stopped by police]

Know Your Rights! These Are Your Rights!3 /4

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPeWSpB_7w4

Footnotes:
  1. 54,464 items just at Flickr []
  2. Mathew Parris []
  3. apologies to The Clash. This is a public service announcement. With guitars! []
  4. Bert Krages Photographer’s Right in handy PDF form []
Categories
News-esque

Conflicts of Interest Inherent in the System

No wonder the US model of pharmaceutical research is so fracked up.

The Hunt Club

In a report expected to be made public on Thursday, Daniel R. Levinson, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, said 90 percent of universities relied solely on the researchers themselves to decide whether the money they made in consulting and other relationships with drug and device makers was relevant to their government-financed research.

And half of universities do not ask their faculty members to disclose the amount of money or stock they make from drug and device makers, so the potential for extensive conflicts with their government-financed research is often known only to the researchers themselves, the report concluded.

[Click to continue reading Researchers’ Financial Interests Often Not Reported to U.S. – NYTimes.com]

Don’t ask, don’t tell, right? You keep your money, and we keep you on staff so that our university can use your name in our PR materials.

Most of the reported conflicts involved equity ownership in companies that could be affected by the results of government-financed research. In only a third of the cases did the universities specify to the government the size of the financial conflict and, among those, six had equity stakes valued at greater than $100,000. But in only 29 of the cases did the universities require researchers to reduce or eliminate their stakes. In most cases, the universities deemed that some sort of the disclosure of the conflict was enough to manage it.

Can you imagine this sort of arrangement for any other industry? Well, besides maybe defense contractors and Congress, but they at least have a couple of years of cushion between action and reward.

Categories
News-esque

Museums of Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood

The Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco was one of the more interesting cultural experiments in LBJ’s America, at least before everyone and their sister left Idaho, and became an amphetamine junky walking the streets…

San Fran Legs

The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood is history. At least, so think two groups of residents who are planning museums to capture memories of the 1960s hippie movement before they fade with its aging participants.

One, led by Haight-Ashbury Free Clinics founder David E. Smith, will function as a “library museum” of the free-clinic movement, which began in the Haight in the 1960s to provide free health care to residents. The other effort, led by local artist David Wills, will chronicle the neighborhood’s history from its farming days in the late 1800s to the Summer of Love in the 1960s.

If the museums launch — neither is slated to open until after 2011 — they would be the latest in a recent push by San Francisco groups to better document the city’s history. The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society has been working to renovate the old Mint Building in the South of Market neighborhood into a San Francisco Museum by 2013. Last year, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Transgender Historical Society opened a museum in the Castro district. Another half a dozen local museums have expanded in the past five years, according to the San Francisco historical society.

[Click to continue reading Museums Hope to Bring New Life to Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood of San Francisco – WSJ.com]

The museums will not be just a hippie theme park

Residents say they are eager to move past the neighborhood’s “hippie theme park” reputation emphasized by the head shops. With new museums, “We hope to educate people about what it was like here at the time, and try to get more into the philosophy of the free society that people don’t get,” said Jim Siegel, who owns the Distractions head shop and who likely will contribute items to Mr. Wills’s museum.

There is a nice photo essay (don’t need to be a WSJ subscriber to see it, I don’t think) of the Haight-Ashubry area if you click here

Speaking of SF, I really want to visit there again, as it has been too many years1. When I was a younger dude, I spent several days strolling around the city on several different occasions, but I didn’t have a camera then2 so all the funky stuff I saw is relegated to my memory banks. I do love San Fran though, in an ideal world, I would have a house there for extended visits.3

Footnotes:
  1. I’m thinking the last time was in 2003 – which is when the above photo was taken []
  2. pre-digital years, and pre-photography years too when I think about it. I didn’t start carrying a camera around until I spent a couple months in Europe after I finished my undergraduate degree []
  3. along with places in New York City, Venice, London, and wherever else. You know, if I was fabulously wealthy. []
Categories
News-esque

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize 2009

Unexpected news; Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

“for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”

[Click to continue reading Peace 2009]

Not sure why exactly President Obama won, only nine months into his first term, seems perhaps a bit premature. Did he win for being Not-Bush?

Full press release:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.

Perhaps the Nobel Committee noticed President Obama’s attempts1 at bipartisanship? Maybe it was his statement about wanting to eliminate nuclear weapons? Regardless, congratulations to the President.

Even the White House was taken by surprise:

The announcement stunned people from Norway to the White House. “There has been no discussion, nothing at all,” said Rahm Emanuel, the president’s chief of staff, in a brief telephone interview.

Mr. Obama, who made United States history by becoming the first African-American president, made repairing the fractured relations between the United States and the rest of the world a major theme of his campaign for the presidency. Since taking office as president he has pursued a range of policies intended to fulfill that goal. He has vowed to pursue a world without nuclear weapons, as he did in a speech in Prague earlier this year; reached out to the Muslim world, delivering a major speech in Cairo in June; and sought to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future,” the committee said in its citation. “His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.”

But while Mr. Obama has generated considerable good will overseas — his foreign counterparts are eager to meet with him, and polls show he is hugely popular around the world — many of his policy efforts have yet to bear fruit, or are only just beginning to do so. North Korea has defied him with missile tests; Iran, however, recently agreed to restart nuclear talks, which Mr. Obama has called “a constructive beginning.”

[Click to continue reading In Surprise, Nobel Peace Prize to Obama for Diplomacy – NYTimes.com]

remarks from the President this morning:

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Well, this is not how I expected to wake up this morning. After I received the news, Malia walked in and said, “Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is Bo’s birthday!” And then Sasha added, “Plus, we have a three-day weekend coming up.” So it’s good to have kids to keep things in perspective.

I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee. Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.

To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize — men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.

But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build — a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents. And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it’s also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action — a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.
    
These challenges can’t be met by any one leader or any one nation. And that’s why my administration has worked to establish a new era of engagement in which all nations must take responsibility for the world we seek. We cannot tolerate a world in which nuclear weapons spread to more nations and in which the terror of a nuclear holocaust endangers more people. And that’s why we’ve begun to take concrete steps to pursue a world without nuclear weapons, because all nations have the right to pursue peaceful nuclear power, but all nations have the responsibility to demonstrate their peaceful intentions.

We cannot accept the growing threat posed by climate change, which could forever damage the world that we pass on to our children — sowing conflict and famine; destroying coastlines and emptying cities. And that’s why all nations must now accept their share of responsibility for transforming the way that we use energy.

We can’t allow the differences between peoples to define the way that we see one another, and that’s why we must pursue a new beginning among people of different faiths and races and religions; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect.

And we must all do our part to resolve those conflicts that have caused so much pain and hardship over so many years, and that effort must include an unwavering commitment that finally realizes that the rights of all Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security in nations of their own.

We can’t accept a world in which more people are denied opportunity and dignity that all people yearn for — the ability to get an education and make a decent living; the security that you won’t have to live in fear of disease or violence without hope for the future.

And even as we strive to seek a world in which conflicts are resolved peacefully and prosperity is widely shared, we have to confront the world as we know it today. I am the Commander-in-Chief of a country that’s responsible for ending a war and working in another theater to confront a ruthless adversary that directly threatens the American people and our allies. I’m also aware that we are dealing with the impact of a global economic crisis that has left millions of Americans looking for work. These are concerns that I confront every day on behalf of the American people.

Some of the work confronting us will not be completed during my presidency. Some, like the elimination of nuclear weapons, may not be completed in my lifetime. But I know these challenges can be met so long as it’s recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone. This award is not simply about the efforts of my administration — it’s about the courageous efforts of people around the world.

And that’s why this award must be shared with everyone who strives for justice and dignity — for the young woman who marches silently in the streets on behalf of her right to be heard even in the face of beatings and bullets; for the leader imprisoned in her own home because she refuses to abandon her commitment to democracy; for the soldier who sacrificed through tour after tour of duty on behalf of someone half a world away; and for all those men and women across the world who sacrifice their safety and their freedom and sometime their lives for the cause of peace.

That has always been the cause of America. That’s why the world has always looked to America. And that’s why I believe America will continue to lead.

[Click to continue reading The White House – Press Office – Remarks by the President on Winning the Nobel Peace Prize]

Footnotes:
  1. constantly thwarted by the Republicans, but still he continues to try []
Categories
News-esque

Whoopsie! Safire is on permanent hiatus

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

[click to embiggen photo]

Today’s New York Times Magazine has an awkward typo: William Safire, who died September 27th, is listed as being on hiatus. Yikes. Last week’s NYT Magazine said Safire “is on hiatus for a few weeks.” Ok, last weeks magazine was excusable, it was only a couple of days after Mr. Safire’s death. But to alter the byline means someone edited it since last week. Awkward…

They have now appended a correction to the online version of the article

A note with the “On Language” column on Page 14 this weekend refers to the absence of the regular columnist, William Safire. Mr. Safire died last Sunday, after some copies had gone to press.