Friday, June 24, 2022

Friday, June 24, 2022

The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade this morning, eliminating a constitutional right to allow women the choice of whether to give birth or not. Despite the fact that the majority of Americans want some legal access to abortion, at least 28 states will immediately force women in their states to give birth against their will. 

Today it's forcing women to give birth. Tomorrow it will be gay marriage. Then they will go after Social Security and Medicare. The Republican playbook has been known for a long time. If you don't want these things to happen, don't vote for Republicans. It's really pretty simple.

I went to Geneva this morning. They are in the midst of their Swedish Days festival. They had a car show last night and I was hoping the cars would still be on display this morning. I was too lazy to go last night but did manage to get there around 9ish this morning, hoping to photograph the cars in morning light. Unfortunately, the cars were gone. The show was that night only. However, I did catch a shot of this cool front porch. Geneva's downtown has some interesting homes.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Life Lesson: Explore What You Already Have Thoroughly

 I like to take pictures. I don't consider myself a "photographer" by any stretch of the imagination. At best I take snapshots. I owned a Nikon S6800 for a long time. It cost me $179 at Costco years ago. It was really small, well-reviewed and had a decent 12x zoom. It was great. However, at some point I got it in my head that I needed a better camera. I got a Fujifilm SF10 for $400+. It is a great camera. It is excellent in low-light situations, though without image stabilization I need to use a monopod to get sharp pictures. The Fuji has twice the megapixels as the Nikon, so I can crop and still retain a great deal of detail. It doesn't have zoom, so I'm cropping more with this camera than I did with the Nikon.

But, the Fuji is larger and I find myself taking the Nikon to indoor events more often. It's less obtrusive. And, just recently, I discovered the Nikon's "museum" setting that takes pretty good indoor pictures without the flash. Plus, if I take the Nikon for outdoor photography the zoom comes in really handy if I spot a bird I want to capture (on film, that is). 

So, perhaps I wasted my money on the Fuji? Maybe. I have learned this: fully explore every option of the equipment you already own. You might just discover that it's quite a bit better than you thought and that might just save yourself some $.

The zoom came in handy for the robin's nest outside my window.

Not too bad in low light -- plus I didn't need the monopod for a reasonably clear picture without the flash.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Book Review - Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation

Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American ConversationAntisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation by Andrew Marantz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was great. The reporting was thorough and well written.

About 10 years ago I was a true believer. With the advent of the Kindle, I thought the digital revolution would free writers from the tyranny of the gatekeepers. I also felt the same about blogging. Everyone could now publish their own magazine and we would be able to read a wider variety of viewpoints. In both cases, Kindle and blogs, the marketplace would cause the best to rise to the top.

I was wrong, very wrong. The best does not rise to the top. This book went a long way toward explaining why I got it wrong. I thought quality would naturally be recognized and become popular. But quality has nothing to do with it. Popularity is a function of just about everything but quality. The social media experiment that we've all involuntarily been a part of has shown that popularity is far too easy to manipulate -- and popularity is based on negative emotions. The number of likes, shares and retweets denote quality and the way to get likes, shares and retweets is to feature anger, hate and fear.

I now feel social media has made our lives worse. It has coarsened our discourse. The alt-right has won the battle of social media. I can't figure out if the alt-right players are truly committed to their beliefs or if they're only in it for the money, or just for kicks. It's like a video game to them, with likes, shares and retweets as the scores. I get the impression from the book that if they could score big trolling for liberals they would switch over in a New York minute. If that is true, it’s truly sad because they are responsible for so much damage to our society and democracy.

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Saturday, April 30, 2022

Stormy Day Pictures: April 30, 2022

Looking west at Sunset Park, Geneva, IL around 7:30 AM

Looking east at Sunset Park, Geneva, IL around 7:30 AM

Captured part of a rainbow. Looking east from my house around 7:30 PM

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Book Review: Leave It As It Is by David Gessner

Leave It As It Is: A Journey Through Theodore Roosevelt's American WildernessLeave It As It Is: A Journey Through Theodore Roosevelt's American Wilderness by David Gessner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a great book. I found his interpretation of Teddy Roosevelt’s life inspiring. Roosevelt had many flaws: he loved killing things, his enthusiasm for American expansion and military adventures, and his attitude toward and treatment of Native Americans. But he also did quite a bit of good when it comes to conservation: he declared 230,000,000 acres of American land off-limits to industry and development.

TR was quite progressive, not only for his time, but he would be considered progressive now – which speaks to how little progress we have made. This section from the book is about TR’s platform in the 1912 election (which he lost):

“The progressive platform was stunning in its modernity: a social insurance system for the elderly, unemployed, and disabled; strict campaign finance restrictions; women’s suffrage; an eight-hour workday; a minimum wage for women; an inheritance tax; worker’s compensation for injuries in the workplace; and a vow to ‘destroy this invisible Government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics.’”

Gessner sees hope, though I am not sure it is warranted. It is refreshing to read.

“We are changing. The culture is changing. Or rather the cultures. It is my dream that, despite recent evidence and recent politics, we will change into something more creative, more open, more fluid; something larger, more magnanimous, more inclusive, and ultimately more exciting.”

I hope he’s right, but it will take quite a bit to change our culture of greed and our obsession with growth. We can’t legislate it – that won’t work. But I think we need to change our culture somehow before we destroy each other and all that we have created that is good.

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