Posts made in September, 2009

Museo magic hour

Posted by on Sep 30, 2009 | 3 comments

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the art of photography with a cell phone camera

Posted by on Sep 24, 2009 | 0 comments

You don’t have to be Ansel Adams to take great photos with your cell phone camera. It’s simply a matter of knowing what your gadget can and can’t do, and applying some basic rules of photography.

The first digital cameras on cell phones were more of a novelty than useful, the photos were blurry and overexposed or underexposed if taken under less than optimum lighting conditions. The results were disappointing to say the least.

But, cell phone cameras have improved immensely over the past few years and most of the new phones on the market come with a camera that boasts at least 2.0 MB resolution, allowing for a bit of versatility. While it’s certainly true that a cell phone camera can’t compare to a nice robust digital camera like the Nikon D90 in terms of resolution, lens or speed, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get some stellar shots with your cell phone camera by following a few rules:

– Great light means great photos. The small lens and aperture in cell cameras means that there is not much room for light reflection, and low light means less detail is captured. While this can be used to your advantage with experimental photos (more on that later) it’s not very conducive to crisp clear photos, so shoot in natural daylight when possible. If you’re shooting at night, look for brightly lit areas. One of the best times to get great results is to shoot at dusk during “magic hour” as the contrast between light and shadow is very dramatic, and colors pop. Finally, turn off the flash. More often than not the low quality flash on cell phone cameras creates unwanted artifacts like hot spots.

– Explore the limitations and the positive advantages of your cell phone camera. Know what it can and can’t do. The best way to do this is to shoot test shots under different lighting conditions: interior and exterior daylight (both sunny and cloudy), night exterior and night interior. The process will help you to know what type of light works best with your cell phone camera – and what light does not work – to obtain the results you’re looking for. If your cell camera has manual exposure settings, give them a try and turn off the auto shutter. You will be surprised at how good a photo will come out with a little tweaking and the proper light.

– Be creative. You have a cell camera with great resolution and not that great of a lens, but that doesn’t mean you can’t push your gadget to the edge with a little experimentation. For two years I used the LG EnV (2.0MB)  to take photos and I found that a few fun tricks led to some interesting results. To compensate for the flat lens, play with angle – left and right and forward and back – which gives the photo a bit more depth. And, since cell phone cameras don’t have high speed shutters, movement within a locked frame (such as the taxi cab in this shot) can be used to dramatic effect. Also, moving the camera in circles or spinning on the lens axis while you click the shutter is fun way to create experimental photos. The results can be wonderful. Play with your cell camera, see what it can do.

The great thing about digital technology is it’s affordable. You can take photo after photo at relatively no cost. If your cell phone has a MicroSD slot, I highly recommend purchasing a memory card to increase storage capacity. They are affordable and give you the ability to take literally thousands of photos and transfer them to your computer with ease.

The final rule is the most important: have fun. Photography is simpler than it appears to be, it just takes a little practice and patience. And, with a cell phone camera at your fingertips, you never know when the next great moment of inspiration is going to strike.

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lyrics for the soul

Posted by on Sep 24, 2009 | 0 comments

A wonderful cover of JJ Cale’s “Magnolia” by Beck. (via Jenny Eliscu)

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news of the world

Posted by on Sep 22, 2009 | 0 comments

What I see in NYC. The news stand in my neighborhood referenced in the radio segment. They carry about 200 magazines and a hundred newspapers from around the world.

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The MediaSquat: Michael Jackson Almost Crashed the Internet

Posted by on Sep 21, 2009 | 0 comments

A segment that I wrote and produced for The Media Squat with Douglas Rushkoff on WFMU 91.1 FM on Michael Jackson as media star and hacker.

During the show, Douglas has an interesting conversation with Paul Krassner that touches on how issue oriented satire has changed over time from Lenny Bruce to Jon Stewart, conspiracy theories in the real world and Krassner’s new book Who’s to Say What’s Obscene:Politics, Culture & Comedy in America Today.

Please listen to the entire show.  The segment below runs five minutes.

Mp3 file located at Internet Archive

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I put a spell on you

Posted by on Sep 21, 2009 | 0 comments

A lot of musicians have covered this Screamin’ Jay Hawkins classic. And, his original is hard to beat, although it feels a little novelty like.  Nina Simone gives it a go and nails it as always.

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stair case

Posted by on Sep 19, 2009 | 0 comments

What I see in NYC. old church.

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500 miles

Posted by on Sep 17, 2009 | 0 comments

Peter, Paul and Mary….

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park water sunset

Posted by on Sep 14, 2009 | 0 comments

What I see in NYC.

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chinatown lanterns

Posted by on Sep 14, 2009 | 0 comments

cell phone camera art.

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tiffany glass

Posted by on Sep 14, 2009 | 0 comments

at the Met in the American Wing.

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turnstyle steel

Posted by on Sep 14, 2009 | 0 comments

beauty in the commonplace.

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The letter on health care from Ted Kennedy to President Obama

Posted by on Sep 11, 2009 | 0 comments

Is health care a right or a privilege? Here’s the answer:

May 12, 2009

Dear Mr. President,

I wanted to write a few final words to you to express my gratitude for your repeated personal kindnesses to me — and one last time, to salute your leadership in giving our country back its future and its truth.

On a personal level, you and Michelle reached out to Vicki, to our family and me in so many different ways. You helped to make these difficult months a happy time in my life.

You also made it a time of hope for me and for our country.

When I thought of all the years, all the battles, and all the memories of my long public life, I felt confident in these closing days that while I will not be there when it happens, you will be the President who at long last signs into law the health care reform that is the great unfinished business of our society. For me, this cause stretched across decades; it has been disappointed, but never finally defeated. It was the cause of my life. And in the past year, the prospect of victory sustained me — and the work of achieving it summoned my energy and determination.

There will be struggles — there always have been — and they are already underway again. But as we moved forward in these months, I learned that you will not yield to calls to retreat — that you will stay with the cause until it is won. I saw your conviction that the time is now and witnessed your unwavering commitment and understanding that health care is a decisive issue for our future prosperity. But you have also reminded all of us that it concerns more than material things; that what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.

And so because of your vision and resolve, I came to believe that soon, very soon, affordable health coverage will be available to all, in an America where the state of a family’s health will never again depend on the amount of a family’s wealth. And while I will not see the victory, I was able to look forward and know that we will — yes, we will — fulfill the promise of health care in America as a right and not a privilege.

In closing, let me say again how proud I was to be part of your campaign — and proud as well to play a part in the early months of a new era of high purpose and achievement. I entered public life with a young President who inspired a generation and the world. It gives me great hope that as I leave, another young President inspires another generation and once more on America’s behalf inspires the entire world.

So, I wrote this to thank you one last time as a friend — and to stand with you one last time for change and the America we can become.

At the Denver Convention where you were nominated, I said the dream lives on.

And I finished this letter with unshakable faith that the dream will be fulfilled for this generation, and preserved and enlarged for generations to come.

With deep respect and abiding affection,




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dumber than homer simpson

Posted by on Sep 10, 2009 | 0 comments

Via my Facebook feed…. From Raw Story:

The mother of a Kentucky high school football player is furious over the Christian baptism of her son during what he said was supposed to be a school outing to eat a steak dinner and see a “motivational speaker.”

Instead, Breckinridge County High School football coach Scott Mooney took 20 of his players on a trip to a Baptist revival, where eight or nine of the students underwent the Christian ritual of baptism, according to published reports.

Michelle Ammons, mother of 16-year-old Robert Coffee, said she’s upset that nobody ever asked her consent to take her son to the August 26 religious ceremony. She added that she’s even more upset with the school district superintendent Janet Meeks, who was at the revival and did not object to the coach including his students.

“Nobody should push their faith on anybody else,” Ammons told the Louisville Courier-Journal.

The Simpson’s:

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Rep. Joe Wilson’s Lament: the difference between “No! No!” and “You lie!”

Posted by on Sep 10, 2009 | 5 comments

It’s come to this: the need to explain the difference between booing during a presidential speech, or shouting “No! No!”, and shouting “You lie!”

From the New York Times:

It was a rare breach of the protocol that governs ritualistic events in the Capitol.

In an angry and very audible outburst, Representative Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina, interrupted President Obama’s speech Wednesday night with a shout of “You lie!”

His eruption — in response to Mr. Obama’s statement that Democratic health proposals would not cover illegal immigrants — stunned members of both parties in the House chamber.

Democrats said it showed lack of respect for the office of the presidency and was reminiscent of Republican disruptions at recent public forums on health care.

Right wing bloggers are trying to make the case that since Democrats booed loudly and shouted “No! No!” during George W. Bush’s 2005 SOTU speech, it’s okay for Rep. Joe Wilson to shout “You lie!” at Obama during his speech.

Now, it’s a real shame this has to even be clarified: there’s a huge difference between booing or yelling “No! No!” during a speech and shouting “You lie!”

Yelling “No! No!” or booing during a speech is merely an expression of disagreement with the speech itself. It’s a time honored form of disagreement in such circumstance, even within the walls of the capitol. It may be a breech of protocol, but one that is practiced nonetheless, from time to time.

But, shouting “You lie!” is more than an expression of disagreement with the speech by the president.

Shouting “You lie!” is an accusation. And, it was directed squarely at the president.

It’s a historically important moment that would have provoked riotous wailing from conservatives if done by a Democrat to a Republican president. Since when are accusations of lying okay?

The fact that conservatives simply do not get that is yet one more example of how deep down the rabbit hole they have crawled.

Rep. Wilson was right to apologize, even if he did so and then tried to immediately back pedal.

Anyway, it’s great for the cause.

Steve Benen at Washington Monthly really sums this one up nicely:

There are a few important angles to this. The first is substantive. When Wilson accused the president of lying, Wilson was, in fact, lying. Even in Congress, facts should matter, and the right-wing Republican wasn’t just obnoxious with his idiotic interruption, he was also wrong.

The second is personal. Joe Scarborough, a former Republican member of Congress, said, “Whoever shouted out that the president was lying is a dumbass.” John McCain denounced Wilson’s outburst as “totally disrespectful.” While right-wing blogs were thrilled, Republican lawmakers have been entirely unwilling to defend Wilson’s behavior.

The third is contextual. President Obama couldn’t have been more magnanimous last night, highlighting a plan that “incorporates ideas from many people in this room tonight, Democrats and Republicans.” He made frequent references to Republican lawmakers and even George W. Bush. Obama even talked up medical malpractice reform. It was in this context that Wilson decided to lash out? As Gail Collins noted this morning, “Let me go out on a limb and say that it is not a good plan to heckle the president of the United States when he’s making a speech about replacing acrimony with civility.”

The fourth is practical. While Dems have been divided of late on policy specifics, they were unified last night — they loved Obama and they hated Joe Wilson. Indeed, I’ve seen reports that Wilson’s Democratic opponent next year, Rob Miller, suddenly saw a wave of new campaign contributions in the wake of Wilson’s conduct.

It’s striking that Wilson, unable to find any support from his allies, quickly apologized. He said his emotions got the best of him, and issued a statement that said, “While I disagree with the president’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility.” He spoke directly to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel last night to express his regret.

But the damage has been done. Indeed, Wilson’s outburst is an almost perfect summation of 2009 — President Obama appears big, Republicans appear small. Democrat show class, Republicans act like children. One side is serious, one side is shrill. The White House says something true, Republicans lash out with falsehoods.

To be sure, Wilson is a buffoon, from whom very little is expected. He’s hosting Glenn Beck minions at his office this weekend, and is a reflexive, right-wing clown masquerading as a congressman. He embarrassed himself, his party, and his institution last night, but it’s unlikely Wilson actually cares whether he’s a disgrace or not. Bruce Bartlett noted this morning, “He’s become the new Sarah Palin of the Republican Party, where one’s popularity is in inverse proportion to one’s stupidity — the stupider a Republican is these days the more popular he or she becomes.”

What will be interesting to see if there are any real consequences. There’s been some talk of censure, or demanding that Wilson deliver a formal apology to the House itself.

Any return to civility is a good start. Whether we can carry such civility farther and get health care reform on track again, remains to be seen.

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