Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More Moon

Full frame, resized:

100% crop:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Moon at 840mm

300mm f/2.8 and extenders 1.4TC + 2.0TC (remember that the EXIF data doesn't get past the first TC); 100% crop of picture as shot - no other post-processing. The shot was inspired by a clear sky and this 800mm f/5.6 L (Canon's new lens) moon shot that was posted on

Moon at 840mm

For this kind of shot, and these seeing conditions, am not missing much compared to the 800mm lens.  Of course, one could put the 2.0 TC on the 800mm lens....One day, one day  :)

PS: the moon through 500 mm + stacked TCs is also displayed in that fredmiranda thread. 

PPS: antique grayscale version - a Adobe Lightroom option

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Deconstructing Wolpert - 2

For full context - see this post from two years ago.

Wolpert wrote of Nehru's reaction to Mountbatten, when informed of Gandhi's plan to ask Jinnah to form the Government of India in return for unity as follows:

Nehru was shocked to learn that his Mahatma was quite ready to replace him as premier with the Quaid-i-Azam......But Nehru had tasted the cup of power too long to offer its nectar to anyone else - last of all to that "mediocre lawyer", the "reactionary-Muslim Baron of Malabar Hill" as so many good Congress leaders thought of Jinnah.

Wolpert's construction is quite unfounded on any facts on the record.

Further, I read today - in Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre's "Mountbatten and the Partition of India, March 22-August 15, 1947", pages 93-94, the following (a week later)

Minutes of Viceroy's Staff Meetings
Eleventh Meeting April 8, 1947


His Excellency the Viceroy said that all the various factors on which a decision on India's future would be based were fast becoming clarified. With each talk he had with the different Indian leaders new facts arose, new plans were suggested. Perhaps the outline plan put forward by Pandit Nehru was the best so far. Pandit Nehru had considered it probable that the 1935 Constitution (as at present modified by practice) would remain in force with the least possible number of changes until a new Constitution was devised.

Mr. Abell gave his view that this was bound to be the case -- for the whole of India if unity was maintained or for Hindustan in the event of partition.

His Excellency the Viceroy said that Pandit Nehru had also expressed the opinion that the only way in which the Gandhi scheme could be made use of was by offering Mr. Jinnah the leadership of the Interim Government. Pandit Nehru had emphasized that on no account should the strong central authority be dissolved until there were competent alternative authorities to which to hand over. In this opinion Pandit Nehru was in accordance with Rao Bahadur Menon.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Happy Rakshabandhan, again!

Last year's post.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Fake Images

We are told that some of the fireworks that viewers on TV saw of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony were fake. Since it would be risky for a helicopter to be up there, shots were simulated on computer, and that was what was presented to viewers.

As long as it is understood that what was going on was entertainment, as in the movies, and not news, using props is OK. But not otherwise.

I can see the US Dept of Defence saying - since sending reporters and photographers to the war front is risky, we are justified in presenting simulated photographs as reality.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Yet another zinnia

Yet another zinnia

The Apostate's Tale: A Dame Frevisse Medieval Mystery
Margaret Frazer

A mystery novel set in mid-15th century England. Bad things happen when a ex-nun returns repentant to St. Frideswide's priory, and it is upto Dame Frevisse to set it straight.

St. Frideswide is the patron saint of Oxford. Frevisse is a another of her names.
Wikipedia on The Historical St. Frideswide.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Howard Dully's Tale

Howard Dully's story featured on NPR this morning in their Hearing Voices series.

From amazon's reviews:

"Gut-wrenching memoir by a man who was lobotomized at the age of 12.

Assisted by journalist/novelist Fleming (After Havana, 2003, etc.), Dully recounts a family
tragedy whose Sophoclean proportions he could only sketch in his powerful 2005 broadcast on NPR’s
All Things Considered.

“In 1960,” he writes, “I was given a transorbital, or ‘ice pick’ lobotomy. My stepmother arranged it. My father agreed to it. Dr. Walter Freeman, the father of the American lobotomy, told me he was going to do some ‘tests.’ It took ten minutes and cost two hundred dollars.” Fellow doctors called Freeman’s technique barbaric: an ice pick—like instrument was inserted about three inches into each eye socket and twirled to sever connections from the frontal lobe to the rest of the brain. The procedure was intended to help curb a variety of psychoses by muting emotional responses, but sometimes it irreversibly reduced patients to a childlike state or (in 15% of the operations Freeman performed) killed them outright. Dully’s ten-minute “test” did neither, but in some ways it had a far crueler result, since it didn’t end the unruly behavior that had set his stepmother against him to begin with.

“I spent the next forty years in and out of insane asylums, jails, and halfway houses,” he tells us. “I was homeless, alcoholic, and drug-addicted. I was lost.” From all accounts, there was no excuse for the lobotomy. Dully had never been “crazy,” and his (not very) bad behavior sounds like the typical acting-up of a child in desperate need of affection. His stepmother responded with unrelenting abuse and neglect, his father allowed her to demonize his son and never admitted his complicity in the lobotomy; Freeman capitalized on their monumental dysfunction. It’s a tale of epic horror, and while Dully’s courage in telling it inspires awe, readers are left to speculate about what drove supposedly responsible adults to such unconscionable acts.

A profoundly disturbing survivor’s tale."

Friday, August 08, 2008

Today's the Day!

Become a StrangeBedfellow!

Glenn Greenwald on the why of Accountability Now.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

A Tale from the US-Canadian Border Crossing

via dkos

He had gone to take some pictures.


Before answering the question I already knew it was going to turn out badly, as I've said before: people who take pictures of things are gradually becoming demonized. If you're not taking pictures of drunken friends in this country, then you may be a terrorist. I sucked it up and explained that I was on the waterfront for a couple of hours, taking some pictures of the Detroit skyline. I expected an inquisitive response, but I was shoveled a pile of insulting gold instead:


I was stupefied. After saying I had only been out of the country for two hours I was being asked if I only went over there to get a prostitute. I had no response and my mouth was probably left a little agape.


Frustrated that my story (or rather, the truth) was checking out, he ordered me inside the immigration/interrogation center while they searched the rest of my car.

Finding that I wasn't a terrorist and noticing that maybe I really was just some kid who wanted to take some pictures on a sunny August evening, I was allowed to proceed into the country, with an interestingly-toned "I'm sorry about all this" from one of the officers at the facility. He was older than the ones who were shouting orders and questions at me. Everyone who shouted at me or talked down to me seemed to be in their upper 20's or lower 30's - people hired in the age since the Transportation Security Agency was absorbed by Homeland Security. The one who said sorry seemed like he was from before that time, back when people like me could take short trips like this and not be "randomly" put through things like this.

As I drove home I felt somehow violated. That's my cell phone. That's my camera. Who has the right to look at them ever, for any reason, aside from me? Well, the answer would of course be Homeland Security - operating in the lawless zone between Canada and the United States, where they could do what they want to whomever they wanted - or at least that's the impression they were giving off. I felt even more sick as I thought: I'm from here. I'm native born. How the hell are actual foreigners treated when they come here? I felt embarrassed for how this country was being represented just by my entry back into it. I was treated almost like a criminal for an hour because I had chosen to leave this country for two hours to take some pictures of this country.

If I were a tourist, I sure as hell wouldn't want to come here and go through that. God help me if I was even the slightest shade of brown or my last name was the slightest of non-Western European sounding. This country is being run like a minimum security prison - you're free to do whatever you want as long as you stay within the borders. If you leave, there simply must be some sort of nefarious reason you did so, and be prepared to answer 20 questions and then some if you have the audacity to leave. Don't answer the questions quick enough and loud enough, get ready for additional rounds.

Some pics.
More pics.

Uppity, take 2

God Bless David Gergen! Really--he was on This Week and said (check the video or transcript for exact wording), "When McCain's camp calls Obama "The Messiah" and "The One", he's really calling him "upitty." I'm from the South, and we understand what that means. That's code."

PS: CIP's take

PPS: Dog whistle - refers to the whistle that emits high frequency sound beyond the range of normal human ears but perfectly audible to dogs.

PPPS: Lee Atwater - campaigned for Bush senior and Reagan, the following is from

Atwater: As to the whole Southern strategy that Harry Dent and others put together in 1968, opposition to the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the South. Now [the new Southern Strategy of Ronald Reagan] doesn’t have to do that. All you have to do to keep the South is for Reagan to run in place on the issues he’s campaigned on since 1964… and that’s fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cut taxes, you know, the whole cluster…
Questioner: But the fact is, isn’t it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps…?
Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, 'Nigger, nigger, nigger.' By 1968 you can't say 'nigger' - that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.
And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me - because obviously sitting around saying, 'We want to cut this,' is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than 'Nigger, nigger.' [4][5][6]

The Race Card


June 27 : McCain campaign releases ad. with Obama's face on the hundred-dollar bill.
(see it here:

July 30 : (video) Obama says in a campaign speech in Springfield, Missouri:

So nobody really thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face, so what they're going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, he's not patriotic enough. He's got a funny name. You know, he doesn't look like all those other Presidents on those dollar bills, you know. He's risky. That's essentially the argument they're making.

July 31 : McCain campaign manager Rick Davis:
Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck. It's divisive, negative, shameful and wrong.

July 31-August 3 - the media goes on and on and on about the race card, essentially letting McCain and his new crew of Rove disciples hijack the discourse.

Friday, August 01, 2008

More Readington Balloon Festival

Two Picasa slideshows:

The first shows the set-up and inflation of a hot-air balloon:

Readington Balloon Festival

The second is a more colorful collection of photographs of the festival:

More Readington Balloon Festival

Sri Ganesh!

In a rush - so this is a resized camera JPEG.
Links to previous ones:
1. The first (inaugurating the blog, not my photo)
2. The second

Pakistan involved in Kabul blasts

Via BR, this summary of a NYT article:

NYTimes wrote:
Pakistanis Aided Attack in Kabul, U.S. Officials Say

* American intelligence agencies have concluded that members of Pakistan’s powerful spy service helped plan the deadly July 7 bombing of India’s embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, according to United States government officials.

* The conclusion was based on intercepted communications between Pakistani intelligence officers and militants who carried out the attack, the officials said, providing the clearest evidence to date that Pakistani intelligence officers are actively undermining American efforts to combat militants in the region.

* American officials said that the communications were intercepted before the July 7 bombing, and that the C.I.A. emissary, Stephen R. Kappes, the agency’s deputy director, had been ordered to Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, even before the attack. :shock:

* They said that the ISI officers had not been renegades, indicating that their actions might have been authorized by superiors.

* American and Pakistani officials have now acknowledged that President Bush on Monday confronted Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, about the divided loyalties of the ISI.

* Pakistan’s defense minister, Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, told a Pakistani television network on Wednesday that Mr. Bush asked senior Pakistani officials this week, “ ‘Who is in control of ISI?’ ”

Pakistan is Terrorism Central, just like Saudi Arabia is Fundamentalism Central; and this has been apparent to any objective observer for the last two decades or more. One wonders at the power of US interests that have endeavored to sweep this under the rug so far.

The real shock is not that Pakistan is involved, but that the newspaper of record reported it.