Tuesday, May 29, 2007
On Washington Valley Road, in the vicinity of Gabriel's Fountain, we came across this church. In the pictures below, the sun is setting and is just below the top of the tower. Taken from the car window, so that should explain the artifact on the lower left. BTW, I don't think the streaks in the sky are lens flare, as I recall, the sky did look like that.
In this first, the exposure was governed by the bright sky, and this is how it came out of the camera.
It was possible by a simple manipulation of the luminance curve in Photoshop to render it thus:
A look at the histograms before and after is illuminating. The exposure has enough information retained to make a substantial improvement possible.
It is a matter of shrinking all the unused range of luminance.
Here's another shot, this time the exposure is governed by the foreground and the sky is blown out.
You'll have to take my word for it, but nothing I tried could restore any detail in the sky. The luminance histogram tells us why - the luminance information has been mostly lost.
The exposure should be such as to maximize the information captured, in this case the camera should expose the brightest area correctly.
(Tools used - Photoshop Elements 2.0 on MacOS X, and Photoshop 3.0.5 in MacOS 9 (Classic)).
Monday, May 28, 2007
This planter pictured below was in the shade. (I have a picture of the whole store front, showing exactly where it is, but my niece features in it, and my policy is not to post pictures of family members on public forums - chalk it up to something learned from experience.) You can see that the whites are badly overexposed (much worse than my roses below). From the EXIF info:
Focal Length: 92 mm
Shutter speed: 1/80
ISO Speed: 400.
This was a f/4 lens, so it was wide open. Gives you an idea of the light.
I found this from photographer Thomas Pindelski on how to deal with this in bright sunlight. Presumably it will work in this situation as well.
Not that I have a lot of roses. A Sunsprite (shown below), four red Knockout bushes. and climbing White Dawn and Don Juan trained on an arbor. The Don Juan actually flowered first, but the flower is 8 feet off the ground, and even standing on a chair, I couldn't get a good photograph. (Was too lazy to get out the step-ladder). All of them are with flower as of this morning.
You can see that the highlights are blown (something I'll return to.)
I'll also say it this once and never again - it sometimes seems faintly blasphemous to me to use the Canon 5D to record everyday life.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
Times columnist Joe makes up a conversation out of thin air.
This is what Joe Klein says
...Yesterday I spoke with Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Ca.) just back from Iraq, who voted for the bill--as did a majority of Democrats who are not running for President. "Look, I would love to have cast a vote against Bush on this. We need a new strategy and I hope we can force one in September," she told me. "But I flew into Baghdad on a troop transport with 150 kids, heading into the field. To vote against this bill was to vote against giving them the equipment, the armor they need. I couldn't do that."
Jane Harman (D-Ca.) actually cast her vote against the President on this, and issued this statement:
"Today’s vote must be seen as a referendum on this President’s refusal to listen to a majority of Americans and a majority of Congress, who want him to end the combat mission and implement the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations on training, counter-insurgency, and enhanced diplomatic and economic efforts in the region.
"I support our troops and I refuse to be manipulated. My ‘no’ vote on the Iraq Supplemental is a vote to move past the fractured politics on Iraq and restore some sanity and bipartisanship as Congress confronts the serious threats of the 21st century."
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Here is Josh Marshall's commentary:
There are so many parts of this late night hospital blitz story that it's a bit hard to know where to start. One thing that seems very clear -- even clearer than when I discussed it below -- is that the president sent Gonzales and Card over to the hospital to coax an okay out of the presumably heavily sedated Ashcroft. The first day's reportage really skirted around that issue. Maybe day two will be different. Another point though is to remember just who it is we're dealing with here.
This is John Ashcroft, not by many measures a staunch libertarian and a pretty committed Republican to boot. He was refusing to sign off on this. And according to Comey's testimony he was willing to resign over it, apparently along with most of the senior leadership of the Department of Justice. I think we need to know more about just what was being done with this program that would make Ashcroft put so much on the line.
Another point: if we assume that the president sent Gonzales and Card over to the hospital room (and I think that's the only reasonable interpretation of yesterday's testimony), there must have been a meeting before that call was placed, probably at the White House. Who was in the meeting? And who got the president to authorize this? Gonzales? I doubt it. I think we probably needing to be looking toward the Vice President's office playing a driving role in all this.
And read this.
I think it’s safe to assume that whatever they were fighting over, it was a matter of substance. When John Ashcroft is prepared to resign, and risk bringing down a Republican administration in the process, he’s not doing it for kicks. Similarly, when the President sends his aides to coerce a signature out of a desperately ill man, and only backs down when the senior leadership of a cabinet department threatens to depart en masse, he’s not just being stubborn.
It’s time that the Democrats in Congress blew the lid off of the NSA’s surveillance program. Whatever form it took for those years was blatantly illegal; so egregious that by 2004, not even the administration’s most partisan members could stomach it any longer.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Luis Posada, a veteran anti-Castro militant and CIA operative under George Bush Sr, was told that he was free to go due to administrative errors in the case against him for entering the US illegally. Posada is wanted in Venezuela and Cuba for allegedly plotting to blow up a Cuban airliner in which 73 people died in 1976.
Here is another one:
Short story: Ann Coulter dodges voter fraud charges because her ex-boyfriend at the FBI had the investigation shut down. Meanwhile, democratic voter registration drive volunteers are only now getting out of jail as their cases get reviewed by an incredulous court...
Sunday, May 13, 2007
CIP tells the tale of an altercation between Newsweek's Jonathan Alter and Radar Online's Jebediah Reed. As CIP writes,
This would be of minor note if it were not for the fact that Alter's tantrum exhibits a lot of the things wrong with the way that he and his colleagues engage in journalistic malpractice..
From there to Glenn Greenwald on the contempt that MSM figures have for bloggers.
There is much to learn from the contempt expressed by John Yoo, Joe Klein and Jon Alter towards blogs -- i.e., a collection of hundreds of thousands of politically engaged citizens who are dissatisfied with the prevailing political and media power centers and have created their own instruments for expressing and activating that dissatisfaction.
It is absolutely true that citizens are forced to rely upon large media organizations to collect information and report what the government is doing, and that is precisely why their profound failures are of such concern.
Greenwald points to Digby who makes the case that the MSM are are bunch of Washington insiders who delude themselves that they represent the silent majority.
Of course political reporters should go out and interview Americans and write stories about what those Americans have to say about the issues of the day. But those interviews are not any more representative of what "the people" as a whole think than are the liberal blogs or Sally Quinn's fictitious "small town" or the fans at a NASCAR race. This is especially true when it's filtered through the phony bourgeois posturings of a bunch of highly paid reporters and insiders who have contrived a self-serving little passion play in which they are regular blue collar guys from Buffalo and corn fed farmers from the Midwest (Real Americans!) who just happen to summer on Nantucket and get invitations to white tie state dinners with the Queen of England. Pardon us fringe dwellers for being just a tad skeptical that these forays out into "America" are informing us about anything more the embarrassing neuroses of some very spoiled elites.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Monday, May 07, 2007
"Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius has reminded us that President Bush’s disastrous misadventure in Iraq has purposely left states unprepared and unable to respond adequately to natural disasters that we should expect. "We’re missing about half of our trucks from the National Guard units," Sebelius said. "Clearly trucks to haul this debris away would be enormously helpful. We are missing flatbeds. We are missing Humvees, which are used to get people to safety and security and to haul equipment around. We are missing a number of our well-trained National Guard personnel. The equipment that we continue to harp on that has been sent overseas when our troops are deployed and not restored at the same level could be enormously helpful."
"(from The Washington Note.)
"You know, if Bush would stop his self-indulgent stubbornness for half a day, he could see plain as day that he has an opportunity to retain American control of the World Bank by easing Wolfie out. If he tries to keep Wolfie in that spot, American control could end.
I really wonder whether his failure to distinguish between necessary toughness and catastrophically shoot-ourselves-(America)-in-our-foot pigheadedness results from biological anomaly. His inability to harvest experience, and so to think and form successful judgments, is just so inexplicable."
Saturday, May 05, 2007
We now hear that another common Chinese business practice is to use diethylene glycol (a poisonous sweet tasting substance that is used in car radiator anti-freeze) instead of more expensive regular sweeteners in children's medicines.
Meanwhile the Bush Administration is busy dismantling the Food & Drug Adminstration, which has the primary responsibility of preventing these atrocities from reaching the market.
Read about it in this Daily Kos article.
It is leaving comments on for all other Presidential candidates.
CBS is doing this because of a large volume of racist comments, a volume too large for CBS to moderate. At least, so says this Daily Kos story.
Obama has been given Secret Service protection. I do not know whether this is standard practice for a leading candidate for the nomination. I had thought only the party nominee was given this. Obama's chief rival, Hilary Clinton, gets Secret Service protection as a former first lady. I can only wonder if this is because of racist threats against Obama.
The Obama candidacy will likely bring out America's closet racism, and give lie to the constant Conservative assertion that racism is dead and over with and nothing we need worry our heads about, let alone attempt to remedy. And I can hope that coming out into the sunlight will make it wither away.
Friday, May 04, 2007
Anyway, for any reader who doesn't get what the fuss is all about, this TPM post is a must-read. The practical consequences of what this administration did should become clear.
If you are on a government list of terrorists or potential terrorists, for instance, you will find it very difficult to fly. But if you want to buy a gun, being on that list doesn't disqualify you.
Quoting from the link below:
Under the federal Brady Act, a licensed firearms dealer must request a background check through the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) before an unlicensed individual may purchase a weapon. However, even if a NICS check reveals that the prospective purchaser is a known or suspected terrorist, nothing in current law prevents that person from purchasing a gun unless he or she meets one of the other disqualifying factors, including felony or domestic abuse convictions.
In January 2005, the GAO produced a report to Sens. Lautenberg and Biden (D-DE) that found that from February 3 to June 30, 2004, a total of 44 firearm purchase attempts were made by individuals designated as known or suspected terrorists by the federal government. In 35 cases, the FBI authorized the transactions to proceed because FBI field agents were unable to find any disqualifying information (such as felony convictions or illegal immigrant status) within the federally prescribed three business days. (emphasis added) "
Well, Senator Lautenberg has introduced a bill, titled "Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2007". that would close this loophole, and it puts into collision the Administration's desire for executive power and its genuflections to the gun lobby.
Read about it in this dailykos story.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
This, in the US, has contaminated pet food, hog feed, and now chicken feed. This dailykos.com story has the scoop:
FDA drops the other shoe: Millions ate contaminated chicken
So now many people have eaten melamine-laced chicken. It is still not clear if the contamination has hit food directly consumed by humans.
I think you should be able to see it without registering.