Shared posts

15 Jun 07:48

Hi Zack, I apologize if this question has been asked before, but how do you find the time to be a husband, a father of 4, a photographer, and answer all these questions, some of which are fairly mundane?

I watch about zero television. I type at a decent speed. I answer questions while C1 or LR is doing its thing or from my iPhone while doing the King’s business. I break the stereotypical artist’s life by getting to work in the morning. I have an AMAZING wife who manages our crazy house and family. I have an amazing office manager that handles the business. I have about zero social life. I have a household of six to clothe, feed, and keep a roof over so I don’t have the luxury of being a slacker. Working half days means 12 hours. I mess things up. I get things wrong. I can’t find balance. I do the best I can. My family loves and supports me through the mess. I come through at the last minute. I stay dedicated until my clients are happy.



29 Apr 09:29

Reporter Beats Out Lumberjack For Worst Job Of 2013

by A Photo Editor
Denny Wells

Anyone else notice that this rating method is essentially a job-rating scale for introverts who would rather sit at a desk than physically move? has an annual ranking of 200 best and worst jobs for 2013 (here) and Reporter takes the bottom spot over last years Lumberjack. Ouch. Maybe we will see Discovery and History channels making a new reality series around reporter like the other worst job staples of Lumberjack, Commercial Fisherman and Mining. Of course rounding out the bottom 20 below Dishwasher but above Corrections Officer is Photojournalist at number 188, so I guess photographers are the best in the newsroom. In the catch-all category of Photographer, which usually includes heavy weighting on positions like cruise ship and theme park photographer, the ranking is 172 just below construction worker but with a positive job growth outlook. Strangely, their description of photographer reads: “Uses shutter-operated cameras and photographic emulsions to visually portray a variety of subjects.”


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29 Apr 08:41

Nobody will ever need to be shushed in the Bush Library

by Helen Philpot

Margaret, the next time you go on one of those cruises, you’re just gonna have to take me along because I need a vacation.   Fine wine may mellow with age but I sure as hell haven’t.  I watched the dedication today for that architectural oxymoron known as the George W. Bush Library.  That man was and remains an idiot.  In fact, the only one in the family who seems to have any brains at all is the mother, Barbara Bush, who said the country has had enough Bushes’ in the White House.  I couldn’t agree more.  I hear, however, that she’s a real bitch.  That’s certainly alright by me.  It takes one to appreciate one.

While watching the dedication I was reminded of his idiocy (I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully) as well as his  arrogance (I am the decider).  Lord help me.  I wonder if that man’s library even has books.  I bet nobody ever has to be ssss-hushed in that place.   It’s probably filled with paint-by-number sets.

It just kills me that we put that idiot in office… twice.  But I guess there has never been a shortage of idiots in politics.

And speaking of idiots, it seems like every time there is an explosion in the world, Ann Coulter and a bunch of other old white Republican men crawl out of their caves long enough to thump their chests for the cameras.  Funny how a bunch of yahoos clinging to the 2nd Amendment after kindergarteners are murdered, suddenly want to throw the  rest of the constitution to the curb because this time the culprit was a Muslim using a pressure cooker.  That monkey of an author, Ann, summed it up best when she said that the bomber’s wife “ought to be in prison for wearing a hijab.”    I had to look that word up.  It’s that religious veil worn by Muslim women.  I guess the constitution only applies to Christian Americans – you know, value voters who seem to have no values beyond the latest sale at Wal-Mart.  Give them time and they’ll argue that you should be allowed to yell “fire” in a crowded mosque.

I am tired of idiots.  Could the real Republican party grow a pair and clean their house so this country can finally get back on track.  I mean it.  Really.

Click here to support Margaret and Helen’s website.

18 Apr 23:51

Incidentally, this also works for websites and even local...

Denny Wells

Haven't watched TV news in years.

Incidentally, this also works for websites and even local businesses. Is someone out there doing a bad job? Don’t give them your time, attention, or money.

31 Mar 08:30

Death Penalty Foes Make Religious, Cost Argument

Denny Wells

"It pays all of our bills and advances our careers" indeed.

Death Penalty Foes Make Religious, Cost Argument:

Death-penalty opponents are pleading with lawmakers to end capital punishment in Nebraska, appealing to their religious and financial sensibilities and arguing that the state has applied it unfairly.

Opponents asked lawmakers Wednesday to advance a repeal measure by state Sen. Ernie Chambers. Chambers, of Omaha, is the Legislature’s most outspoken death-penalty opponent.

The sister of murder victim James Thimm testified that the death penalty has prolonged her family’s suffering by keeping her brother’s killer in the public eye. Thimm’s killer, Michael Ryan, has sat on Nebraska’s death row for more than 25 years.

Chambers has three co-sponsors on the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, who together make up half of the panel.

The Nebraska County Attorneys Association opposes the bill.

This is the entirety of the article.

It would have been nice for the reporters to ask death proponents what they like about it since it’s more expensive than life imprisonment, since it’s biased with regard to both race and class, since it doesn’t deter criminals any more than the threat of life imprisonment, and since Nebraskans can’t actually make it work.

Basically, I think it would have been interesting to hear why the “Nebraska County Attorneys Associaton opposes the bill.” I’d like to hear their spokesperson say, “It pays all of our bills and advances our careers.”

28 Mar 18:56

"A developed country isn’t a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public..."

Denny Wells

Sometimes here in the US I miss the ubiquitous public transport in Thailand (was there with Peace Corps).

“A developed country isn’t a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation.”


Gustavo Petro, Mayor of Bogota

(h/t @gusseting )

22 Mar 09:18

"In 1986, Foot was the subject of one of the best-known newspaper headlines of all time. The Times..."

Denny Wells

How could I not share this?

“In 1986, Foot was the subject of one of the best-known newspaper headlines of all time. The Times ran an article about Foot, who had been put in charge of a nuclear disarmament committee. The headline stated “Foot Heads Arms Body.” Although originally written as a joke by editor Martyn Cornell, the paper ran it.”

- Michael Foot - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
28 Feb 19:22

nevver: 29 Ways to Stay Creative Infographic

Denny Wells

I need to do more of this.

27 Feb 20:01

ISO 8601

ISO 8601 was published on 06/05/88 and most recently amended on 12/01/04.
24 Feb 09:27

Eiko Ojala

by pieter | today and tomorrow

To be honest, I’m not really sure how Eiko Ojala made these illustration. Did he cut them out of paper or did he made them digitally … Let’s just say they look awesome.

Eiko Ojala

Eiko Ojala

Eiko Ojala

Eiko Ojala

Eiko Ojala

found at iGNANT

14 Feb 20:57

Seen in the subway.

Denny Wells

Reading during naptime - very familiar.

Seen in the subway.

13 Feb 19:27


Denny Wells


13 Feb 19:23


Denny Wells


A human is a system for converting dust billions of years ago into dust billions of years from now via a roundabout process which involves checking email a lot.
12 Feb 23:07

one wave behind

by Clark

If you want to build widgets, and each widget has a base-plate, a power supply, and a cover-plate, and you've got 10 base-plates, 10 power supplies, and 6 cover-plates, then you can just build 6 widgets. The cover-plates are the limiting factor.

If a new shipment comes in with 6 more power supplies and 10 cover-plates, now your inventory stands at 10, 16, and 16. The bottleneck has moved – the base-plates are the limiting factor.

Yes, your shop is now materially better off than it was before the shipment arrived, but you, as the conscientious small business owner, are not satisfied – you're paying attention to the limiting factory.

There is always a limiting factor.

Alvin Toffler famously noted that there have been three waves of massive change in human society.

Starting with the initial condition when we were hunter gatherers, operating much like the other primates on the savanna:

The first wave was the development of agriculture. People moved from the open range to the farm as we grew our food, which meant that we didn't have to continually move to new locations, which meant that we could accumulate physical goods, which meant that we could experiment with producing physical goods via new techniques, which meant that we could have specialization of labor, which meant that productivity went up, which meant that we could support dedicated government, priestly caste, and so on.

The second wave was the development of industry and mass production. People moved from the farm to the factory as specialization increased, food yields went up, universal factory style education was created, the corporation prospered, the extended family gave way to the nuclear family, universal literacy appeared, returns on education increased radically.

The third wave is the post-industrial society. People moved from the factory to the coffee-house, open source appeared, people began forming friendship groups that spanned continents instead of city blocks, one good algorithm could now reshape a massive industries, 20-something billionaires became – if not normal, at least not surprising. Pets began getting pedicures, celebrity chefs appeared on TV and organic food appeared in supermarkets.

In each of these four eras mankind has become materially better off than in the era before…and yet there is always one shortage.

In the initial state of hunter-gatherers, the shortage was food. The lack of food kept the population in check, and when times got really hard, only the physically strongest (and their allies) would eat. Utopian visions were those where there was lots of food.

In the first wave society, the shortage was irrigated land – anyone could raise enough food to live on if only he had enough land. The lack of land kept the serfs in check. Those with a monopoly on the land (the best armed thugs those favored by God and blessed with the divine right of kings) owned all the land and let the peasants work it in return for a share of their product. Utopian visions were those where there was lots of land.

In the second wave society, the shortage was capital – anyone could buy enough food to live on if only he had enough capital to start a small business. The lack of capital kept the proletariat in check. Those with a monopoly on capital let the proletariat work their machines in return for a share of their product. Utopian visions were those where there was there was enough machinery for everyone.

In the third wave society, the shortage is not good ideas – it's minds capable of executing good ideas. Your average silicon valley maniac has more ideas than he can shake a stick at (to use a first wave term). The problem is that bringing even one of his ideas to fruition takes years of effort. …and not just years of anyone's effort, but years of effort by one or more people with

  • high intelligence
  • high executive function
  • strong self discipline

There is a shortage of such people (and, again, but "shortage", I mean not "people are dying in the streets because we don't have more", but "we are only rate limited by this").

Given that this is the only real shortage that the world faces, I find it darkly amusing to look at retrograde utopians of earlier eras, telling us that all of our problems will be solved if we just adopt their dated hundred- or thousand- year old solutions.

Those who still think that there's a first wave shortage of good land want us to adopt Georgism. "We'd all be better off if they didn't have a monopoly on the land!". Yeah, OK – if I just gave you a few acres, Google and Goldman Sachs would tremble before your might.

Those who still think that there's a second wave shortage of capital want us to adopt redistributive socialism. You know what happens if we take away Elon Musk's money and hand it out to every American? Ten years later Elon Musk is a billionaire (again) and you're carrying a balance on your credit card (again).

When the shortage is human minds, there's really only one solution ("solution"): enslave the high productivity brains (or perhaps just tax them at 90%) and make them labor for everyone else so that the livers can lean back and watch Jersey Shore reruns courtesy of Larry Page and Sergei Brin's paychecks.

While I'm not a fan of this on deontologic grounds (i.e. "we have no right"), it's at least an honest model of how the world works.

The mainstream political parties are blind to reality, and that's because of incentives – everyone involved is handsomely rewarded for being blind to reality. The Republicans fondly remember 1860, when the common man stood behind a plow, and the Democrats fondly remember 1960, when the common man stood behind a stamping machine.

The Republicans want to bring back small towns and white-painted churches, because when those things were ascendant all was right in the world.

The Democrats want to bring big cities and big industry, because when those things were ascendant all was right in the world.

And so the Republicans shovel money at farmers, endorse prayer in school, and tell us to worship our heroes fighting for manifest destiny, and the Democrats shovel money at unionized teachers, endorse government run mass transit, and tell us to worship dense urban living.

If a rawhide clad savage stood before a podium in Washington and told us that all of our problems could be solved if we, as a tribe, packed up and moved over that hill there, because there's a lot of rabbit, and maybe even some deer, we'd laugh at his naivety.

…and yet when representatives of the two major parties stand up in 300 year old clothes and tell us that the path to prosperity lies in moving over that hill there, because there's a lot of arable land and/or good paying factory jobs, we pretend we're hearing something other than rank idiocy.

one wave behind © 2007-2013 by the authors of Popehat. This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. Using this feed on any other site is a copyright violation. No scraping.

12 Feb 07:34

Single-Serving Anecdotes

Single-Serving Anecdotes:

It turns out that responsible citizens without guns can stop bad guys from committing crimes:

A customer has captured a man suspected of robbing a Lincoln bank.

Lincoln Police Capt. Danny Reitan says the suspect was armed with a pocket knife but never opened it Saturday morning at the Union Bank branch on North 48th Street.

The customer, 28-year-old Garret Bush, wrestled the suspect to the ground and held him for police. Bush says he just felt like he was doing his duty. He says “you just can’t always stand by and let people get away with stuff like this.”

In other news, sometimes responsible citizens drop their loaded guns on the floor at McDonald’s and accidentally shoot other people in the stomach:

A husband was shot in the stomach as he sat in a McDonald’s when his wife’s loaded gun fell out of her pocket. 

Richard Lee Cooper, 47, was hit in the abdomen when the .22-caliber Derringer pistol fell to the floor, causing it to go off. 

Barbara Annette Masters, 48, was carrying the loaded gun in her pocket as the pair ate at the McDonald’s in Bend, Oregon, on Thursday afternoon.

And, yes, I’m pretty sure that single-serving anecdotes always support my policy preferences but never yours. Just so we’re on the same page.

But seriously, how many gun accidents before we stop talking about how these aren’t the real responsible gun owners that the NRA keeps talking about and just admit that guns are incredibly dangerous weapons and that carrying them around all the time instead of locking them up increases the risk that someone’s going to get shot?

09 Feb 08:45

X → Y ; I don't like Y; therefore ! X

by Clark

When I was a kid I had a family member who – with out realizing what he was doing – lived like Merlin.

Except that where Merlin lived backwards in time, this family member just lived backwards in logic.

Instead of starting with the facts on the ground and then reasoning forward towards conclusions, he would start with conclusions and then reason backwards to what the facts on the ground must be.

The older I've gotten, the more I realize that there's a lot of that going on.

I find that when standing up for general principles it's often best to pick examples that cut against your normal tribal loyalty (this is why the Good Samaritan from Luke is a good parable; if a filthy, glue-huffing Samaritan is willing to …well, you take my point).

With that in mind, I will now defend Jared Diamond, who I do not have cultural or political affinity with. The topic is this recent dust-up:

It’s happening again, another issue of Jared Diamond vs. the anthropologists. Part of this is surely personal. Diamond has been trading in glib and gloss for years, and profitably so, in both financial and fame terms. There is also a deep scholarly divide. Diamond’s way of viewing historical development is reminiscent of, if not equivalent to, materialism. That is, external material forces (geography) and broad macro-historical dynamics (the transition across modes of production) loom large in his thinking. In contrast, many cultural anthropologists disagree with this paradigm, and see it as outmoded, old fashioned, and false. Not that I can decrypt what they believe, because clarity is not something that seems to be valued by cultural anthropologists in most domains.

I say most, because there is one area where many of them are quite clear: they are the beacons of toleration and justice. And they get to define what toleration and justice is. For all cultural anthropology’s epistemological muddle, its political priors are crisp and dinstict, and strangely insulated from the critique and deconstruction so valued by the discipline in all matters. From The Guardian piece above:

“It’s a profoundly damaging argument that tribal peoples are more violent than us,” said Survival’s Jonathan Mazower. “It simply isn’t true. If allowed to go unchallenged … it would do tremendous damage to the movement for tribal people’s rights. Diamond has constructed his argument using a small minority of anthropologists and using statistics in a way that is misleading and manipulative.”

In a lengthy and angry rebuttal on Saturday, Diamond confirmed his finding that “tribal warfare tends to be chronic, because there are not strong central governments that can enforce peace”. He accused Survival of falling into the thinking that views tribal people either as “primitive brutish barbarians” or as “noble savages, peaceful paragons of virtue living in harmony with their environment, and admirable compared to us, who are the real brutes”.

But Survival remains adamant. “The clear thrust of his argument is that there is a natural evolutionary path along which human society progresses and we are simply further along it,” said Mazower. “That’s extremely dangerous, because it is the notion that they’re backward and need to be ‘developed’. That thinking – and not that their way of living might be just as modern as any other way of living – is the same thinking that underpins governments that persecute tribal people.”

The thinking in the Guardian piece is a perfect example of the "X → Y ; I don't like Y; therefore ! X" logical failure.

The first syllogism (from the first paragraph) goes like this:

  1. If Diamond is right that tribal people are more violent → it would do tremendous damage to the movement for tribal people’s rights.
  2. I don't want tremendous damage to the movement for tribal people’s rights.
  3. THEREFORE Diamond is wrong

…and the second (from the third paragraph) goes like this:

  1. If Diamond is right that human societies progress along a natural path → governments will persecute tribal people
  2. I don't want governments will persecute tribal people
  3. THEREFORE Diamond is wrong

Now, I am not entirely with out sympathy to this sort of thinking. If the situation is dire enough and imminent enough1, I'd let my thinking (or at least my words) be modified in service to the greater good. "Are there any Jews hiding in your basement?" Hmmm. "No, there absolutely couldn't be! [ because if I admit the truth you'll kill them ]".

Maybe Mazower knows that the words he's spouting are not even wrong, and he's bravely making a mockery of his own reputation as someone with an IQ above that of yeast in order to save some primitive tribes.

…but maybe not. Maybe Mazower really has been seduced by the ends that he envisions and has compromised the means of logic and honest debate.

Whether tribal societies are more violent than western societies is a question of fact that can be settled with censuses, direct observation, and archeology. My sense as an outsider is that Mazower is absolutely wrong that violence levels are the same across societies, and that Diamond has not yet proved his point that there is one progressive path forward.

The fact, though, that Mazower is not arguing "X is wrong because we have facts that prove X wrong", but is instead arguing "X is wrong because I dislike the political implications of X" has the stink of pseudoscience, the intellectual lynchings of James Watson and Larry Summers, and – in general – operations of Minitrue.

It shouldn't be necessary to clarify, but I imagine it is, so I'll clarify: I do not assert that I know whether Diamond, Watson, or Summers are right or wrong. I merely know that debate and science proceeds by arguing the facts on the ground, not by declaring that certain facts are impossible because of the political environment.

Facts are facts (and unknowns are unknowns) regardless of whether they hurt feelings or lead to certain undesirable results.

You've been down there, Neo. You already know that road.

X → Y ; I don't like Y; therefore ! X © 2007-2013 by the authors of Popehat. This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. Using this feed on any other site is a copyright violation. No scraping.

09 Feb 07:50

Just Another One of those Recreational Explosions

by John Aronno
Denny Wells

Words have meaning. Good local editorial.


A little before five in the evening this past Saturday, Facebook and Twitter played hosts to a very strange story that continues to unravel. The Fairbanks Daily News Miner posted about “reports of a big explosion over in Chena Ridge area.”

Scores of comments began to trickle in, as the rest of us scratched our collective heads. Some people had mistaken the blast for an earthquake; others thought it was a sonic boom. The News Miner reported that troopers were checking it out, and there was no word yet from the fire department.

Something sizable and odd had taken place, but the general consensus remained one of mildly nervous befuddlement.

And then a firsthand account with some specifics materialized in the online thread: “It was a guy in my neighborhood off Heather Drive. It is an individual (or someone on his property) who had done this before, though never this bad. Broke windows at our house, and caused damage to other homes in the neighborhood. Recreational explosives.”

This gave me pause. It was a term I had not heard prior to this occasion. “Recreational Explosives.” The first word seemed a bit antithetical when applied to the second. A recreational explosive, to me, conjures up the image of a roman candle, or something similar and equally unlikely to remove glass from pane. Facebook began collectively scratching their heads harder.

Unfortunately, it became the term we ran with. “Several neighbors suspect recreational explosives because of a local homeowner who has a shooting range that’s been the source of smaller explosions in the past,” the News-Miner offered during Sunday morning’s coverage. Alaska Dispatch cited that article and repeated the same language.

“Recreational explosives.”

I jumped on the Google machine and entered the term. As it turns out, it’s a thing. The first search result pointed me towards “,” which features the tag line: “I don’t know why everyone does not share my delight with explosives. If they don’t, it has to be some abhorrent character defect.”


The website is devoted, as one might expect, to images of people blowing things up. And it’s got company. There are tons of fan sites for connoisseurs of the boom – they actually refer to themselves as “boomers.” Photos of blowing things up. Videos of blowing things up. Annual festivals where people travel from all corners of the country to take pictures of other people watching things blow up.

Everyone needs a hobby. And human beings are diverse creatures. Pick a noun out of a hat and I’ll show you a society of enthusiasts – complete with custom coffee mugs.

But a description of something should be accurate, right? Those who fancy a good recreational explosion should ensure that the “recreational” part of said explosion is universally enjoyed. Otherwise it can’t really be called recreational; recreation generally isn’t imposed on people.

The Dispatch highlighted the experience of resident Cody Crane, who’s “garage doors were blown off their hinges and pushed in, sliding came off the house, and there are cracks in the front wall.” The News-Miner noted that Melanie Arthur also lost three storm windows. Three quarters of a mile from the detonation, the blast was large enough to give her the impression that her propane tank had blown up. (Another witness reported the violent overturning of a salt shaker. We will rebuild.)

The News-Miner published a follow up this week, detailing that the “force of the blast did at least $15,000 in property damage to area homes, a sum that is expected to rise as more reports come in.”

At a certain point an explosion crosses a threshold where it is no longer recreational. The residents who heard a loud noise and then found shattered glass – where the barrier between their living room and winter weather in Fairbanks is generally found – probably wouldn’t be assuaged by an explanation of: “Sorry, I was recreating.” I doubt that even Guy “Chris” Mannino, the alleged perpetrator who is now part of an investigation, feels as though he made a wise decision regarding how to spend his day off.

Put bluntly, liberty ceases to be liberty when it is used as an excuse to blow up someone else’s stuff.

Homelessness is not best suited by reports on the “residentially flexible.” The crime rate shouldn’t be glossed over as reports of “street activity.” People doing stupid things shouldn’t be excused as “creative.” Simply put, words have meanings. It’s probably best not to associate hobbies like fishing or needlepoint with an occurrence that was very much a large explosion in a residential area that put “more than $100,000 of someone else’s property at risk ‘by the use of widely dangerous means.’”

One man’s haphazard fondness for repeatedly exploding things in a residential neighborhood could have easily proven fatal. We have more accurate terms that we tend to apply to people who blow up property at the risk of human life. We should stick to them. It beats couching really dumb, expensive, domestic-terrorismy activity in a phrase that sounds like a guy went golfing and used the wrong club for a tee shot.

07 Feb 23:49

Did someone mention consistency?

by Charles
Denny Wells

The update is the most disturbing part here.

Recently, Clark posted a short thought about how our political outrage tends to wax and wane with the power our preferred party is holding at the time we access our emotions.

On that thought, as the resident liberal around here and a generally pro-Obama guy as these things go, I am outraged and disgusted by the legal analysis in the Justice Department white paper that is believed to be close to, if not the actual analysis, the Obama administration uses to justify extrajudicial killing of American citizens believed to be enemy combatants.

Take a look at that memo. Let your eyes adjust to the NBC News watermark, which might take a while, much of which will be spent trying to wrap your mind around NBC News breaking a story. Then read the memo. It is as broad a claim of executive power as you are likely to see. It is garbage. It claims virtually unlimited power while shedding crocodile tears for the cherished principles it dismantles in making the claim.

One ambiguous phrase is stacked on top of another until the inescapable conclusion is that extrajudicial killing is justified whenever the United States wants to use it. The threat matrix is basically an Excel spreadsheet where every cell says "Well, what do you WANT to do?"

The memo carefully cites prior case law as a prelude to stretching any leeway given to the Executive Branch well beyond reason. It is permissible to respond to imminent danger? Excellent. Imminent threat now means… threat. Seriously. The opinion literally reads the word 'imminent' out of the limitation on the grounds that imminence is complicated. "Senior operational officer" and "associated forces" – theoretically limitations – are not defined at all, so "what do you WANT to do" is the de facto standard. The "feasibility of capture" limitation is no limitation at all, since it justifies any scenario short of "you can not kill an Al Qaeda official who accidentally walks, unarmed, into a military prison." The less said about the wave of the hand the opinion gives to the need to limit collateral damage, the better, since the number and lethality of drone strikes in the last year should have embarrassed anyone out of citing that principle here.

Some pages follow about the Constitutional rights unique to Americans caught in the sights of the War on Terror but, honestly, who gives a shit? After you get through reading the broad authority given to assassinate, the idea that the 4th Amendment might somehow give pause is a joke. The power claimed to drop bombs in civilian areas to kill enemy combatants of ambiguous operational importance is the real moral horrorshow here. The Constitutional rights stuff is picayune academic jerking off.

There is probably a well-reasoned analysis of the appropriate circumstances for using drone strikes to kill enemy combatants. The analysis would genuinely grapple with what it means for a threat to be 'imminent'; for capture to be 'unfeasible'; for collateral damage to be 'humane.' This memo is not it, though it desperately pretends to be.

This document is David Addington's unitary executive wet dream, so we'll see how consistent the right stays. I'm predicting a surge in demand for fainting couches. Consistency is not for the faint of heart.

UPDATE: Might as well give credit where credit for something appalling is due: Republicans are lining up to agree with the broad executive power to kill on a hunch in the white paper. Consistent. Disgusting, but consistent.

Did someone mention consistency? © 2007-2013 by the authors of Popehat. This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. Using this feed on any other site is a copyright violation. No scraping.

06 Feb 19:28

Eyeist Looks To Disrupt The Traditional Portfolio Review

by A Photo Editor

Eyeist is the first Web-based photography review service founded by Allegra Wilde, a Consultant to the Photography Industry; Micah and Jesse Diamond, both veteran professional photographers; that launched in October. I’m involved with the company as an advisor (full disclosure) and if you visit the site you will see me quoted and featured in a video they made, but really all I ever did was say “that’s awesome,” they came up with the idea and built it.

I don’t gain anything from sending people there except I hope to correct what I think has become a horrible trend in photography: photo contests. Not all are bad, but I’ve judged a few recently and several things are quite alarming. The amount of people entering is staggering and a significant chunk of entries are mediocre to not-good-at-all compared to the “ringers” who enter and clean house. Which means people are spending lots of money on photography contests and getting nothing out of it. No feedback, just throwing the money into someone’s pocket. And, really what I believe most people are seeking is feedback in some way. The longshot of winning a photo contest offers the possibility that you will be told an image you took is great or worthy of consideration in some way. This seems like an incredible waste of money. If it’s feedback you seek then a portfolio review is your best bet and Eyeist is a fairly inexpensive and very slick piece of software for doing this. Like any disruptive company it’s the software that makes things more efficient and lowers the cost for everyone involved. You and the reviewer don’t have to travel. The review is recorded for reference and the software makes it easy to sequence and talk about the images. Your allotted time is spent reviewing the work not pulling portfolios out and chatting with your reviewer.

While Eyeist is certainly a portfolio review service, I don’t think it will disrupt the traditional portfolio review. I hope it disrupts photo contests, the vast majority of which don’t do much except offer the winners a nice marketing vehicle to reach out to prospects with. It can also serve as a way for people to test the portfolio review waters to see if they are ready for the investment of time and money on a traditional review. I know many people are disgusted with the commercialization of the portfolio review space, but there are still altruistic events that offer exposure and support to photographers where the reviewers and event organizers are equally invested in the process. Like many industries effected by the internet, Eyeist uses software to disrupt and make the review process more efficient and inexpensive. That’s a great development for everyone.


A Revolutionary New Website Design:
HTML5 Fast, Easy to Build, Smart Phone/Pad Friendly, Multimedia Galleries and Retina Ready.
Free demo (here).

24 Jan 19:21


by Clark
Denny Wells

We need more honesty like this.

Here's a fun game to play:

Skewer partisans on the other side of the divide over the fact that during the last administration they had their panties in a knot over the president doing X, Y, and Z, but during this administration (with the appropriate brand of either Coke or Pepsi sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office), they're mysteriously silent.

I blame Bush partisans who were silent over:

I blame Obama partisans who are silent over:

  • the administration being in bed with the big banks
  • the continued use of Gitmo
  • the fact that the US military is fighting wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan
  • ongoing extreme rendition
  • FISA and even more domestic spying
  • the widespread deployment of license plate scanners using funds from federal grants

I am culturally a man of the right

but I have to admit that it's a man of the left, Glen Greenwald, who has done some of the most stand-out work in intellectual honesty on this topic: he's hammered Obama over his all-too-convenient hypocrisy.

…but Obama isn't alone in deserving a serving of shit. He only gets away with it because the media and the populace let him get away with it. The press covers Michelle Obama's gowns and exults that Barrack himself enjoys a game of basketball with his staff…while never noting that as Michelle is trying on a new gown, hundreds of men are shackled in an American military base despite never having had a date in court, and while never noting that as Barrack sets up for a three-pointer American drones cruise over Pakistan, blowing up houses that are alleged to contain people that BHO has put on an unconstitutional kill list.

My point here is not to dress down my left-wing friends as uniquely flawed. Yes, most of you are hypocrites. That's fine – most of all of us are hypocrites. Right, Left, Libertarian, and Center, most of us, most of the time, don't apply our standards consistently.

This is not a disease of the left; this is a disease of humanity.

And yet, cultural progress is possible. Cultural norms are mutable.

Here's my challenge to you (and to myself):

1) when the wrong brand of soft drink is behind the desk (whether that's right now or in a few years), make a list of the utterly horrible illegal crap he (or she) is doing, day in and day out. And post it someplace public, like your blog.

Now, here's the tricky bit:

2) title the blog post "crap I will not remain silent about … even when my own guy is doing it 4 or 8 years from now"

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19 Jan 00:46

Getty Hands Google Users Free Commercial Images, Photographers Get $12

by A Photo Editor
Denny Wells

That.... is astounding.

On December 6th the Google Drive Blog announced that “5,000 new photos of nature, weather, animals, sports, food, education, technology, music and 8 other categories are now available for your use in Docs, Sheets, and Slides” with no mention to how they were acquired or what type of license they come with. If you have a google drive account (comes with gmail and google apps for business) you can create a document and when you go to insert an image you can search google, life or stock. There’s a notice that the “results shown are labeled for commercial reuse with modification” but other than that you can insert the image results in your document and away you go.

It all seems quite mysterious, but luckily some istockers uncovered what’s really going on. In a forum post on January 10th an istock contributor is alarmed to find one of their images in the search results and once they place “it into my document at 1,066 x 1,600. No attribution. No meta-data. No license. No link.” This post is followed by 537 comments then the thread is locked.

On January 11th a forum post titled “Google Drive + Update” is made by mr_erin who appears to work for istockphoto with the following information:

“This is a license deal arranged with Google through Getty Images”

“There may eventually be additional content added to this pool/agreement”

“Google licensed these images for use by Google users through the Google Drive platform; Users of this platform are granted rights to place this imagery in content created using Google Docs, Google Sites, and Google Presentations, which end uses can be for commercial purposes.”

I haven’t really dug into the forum posts to see what else is being said or located other sources for the story. The photographer who emailed me about it (Don) says that Getty/Flickr photographers are being paid a one time fee of $12 for the deal.

I’m positive that Getty and Google will figure out a way to lower the bar even further at some point, but this is the lowest I’ve seen it. Gmail has 425 million active users worldwide according to Wikipedia. That’s some serious fractions of a penny for a license.


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18 Jan 22:53

Snowshoe Art — Creativity Out in the Cold

by Chase
Denny Wells

These are awesome.

There’s a magical impermanence to Simon Beck’s “Snow Art,” like low tide beach sculptures or Buddhist sand mandalas. Created using snowshoes and precise orienteering, these snow crop circles — which average 10 hours of focused, measured walking to complete — last only as long as the conditions favor them. A stiff breeze, a new snow or a sudden thaw and it’s tabula rasa, all over again. As yourself if you have the love-of-what-you-do, desire, and willingness to put something this “fleeting” out into the world?

An Oxford-educated England native, Beck’s work as an orienteering mapmaker gives him one of the skills necessary to create his art. According to the artist, “accurate use of a compass and distance measurement by pace counting” enable him to be successful. What else does it take? “Physical stamina,” Beck explained in an email exchange.

On the issue of commercialization of his work, Beck had this to say:

I have theoretically been offered several thousand GPB [British Pound Sterling] for three photos but this has stalled as the customer has (on having a better look) asked for higher resolution photos, so the drawings have to be done again so I can shoot them with my new camera (and most likely hire the helicopter). Given better equipment I think I shall make money in this way. It is time to make the commitment and investment.

Most immediately, Beck hopes to publish a coffee table book of his work by 2014.

Currently the artist uses a Nikon D7000 for snapping the photos [usually from the vantage point of nearby mountains or chairlifts], although prior to this season he used “cheap consumer cameras from mass-market retailers.” Oh, and he’s got TSLs or Tubbs strapped onto those feet, for those who were wondering.

Before you go associating these snowshoe shapes with those corn-field cousins, heed this final word of Beck’s into consideration:

A lot of people seem to call it snow crop circles, which I dislike as a lot of those who do crop drawings don’t ask permission and I don’t want to be associated with that sort of illegal activity. I don’t see the need to call it something else [besides "snow art"] but I would be open to suggestions.

Tell me this is superfresh…

*All photos courtesy of Simon Beck.

15 Jan 02:07

"We are not a deadbeat nation… So we’ve got to pay our bills. And Republicans in Congress have two..."

Denny Wells

Right on.

“We are not a deadbeat nation… So we’ve got to pay our bills. And Republicans in Congress have two choices here. They can act responsibly, and pay America’s bills, or they can act irresponsibly and put America through another economic crisis. But they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy … We’ve got to stop lurching from crisis to crisis to crisis when there’s this clear path ahead of us that simply requires some discipline, some responsibility, and some compromise. That’s where we need to go. That’s how this needs to work.”

- POTUS (via kateoplis)
10 Jan 19:01

Comment of the Day

Denny Wells

THAT is funny.

Over on Facebook, my friend Scott Basinger digs deep into the ancient Israelite prophets to reply to my post: Chuck Hagel Anti-Israel Charge Is ‘Extremely Stupid,’ Nebraska Rabbi Says:

Breaking news: Senate GOP also labels the prophet Micah anti-semitic for his criticisms of Israel.