flowers, history, photography, politics

Memorial Day 2020

Originally a day to remember and honor the fallen in the American Civil War, Memorial Day expanded to include later wars.  Now it should expand beyond the military.  In the COVID-19 pandemic, essential workers risk their lives and sometimes die, defending the rest of us from the disease itself and the societal collapse it could cause.
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lavender-memorial_840x483

In wartime, ignorant and impulsive pols can somehow make horrendous situations even worse.  So it is with the pandemic.  Medical workers (including EMT-s and hospital support staff as well as doctors and nurses) have been sent into battle with inadequate personal protective equipment for themselves and inadequate intensive care facilities for their patients.  Stockpiling such stuff would cost money.  Might even need to raise taxes on those who can work from home, if they need to work at all.  And so on.

It’s so much easier to claim that all is well until all Hell breaks loose, then claim that all will be well when the weather warms up, if we just go back to work and drink a little bleach.

The governors of some states have stepped up.  Learning from each other and from countries (like New Zealand and South Korea) that took the threat seriously, they made tough decisions.  They include a few Republicans (like Hogan in Maryland and DeWine in Ohio) and more Democrats.  It is too early to be sure, but they just might have saved the USA from criminal incompetence in the White House.  Federalism works.

The doctor in Wuhan who first sounded the alarm about COVID-19 was punished for “spreading rumors” and later died of the disease.  Remember him also today, along with our essential civilian workers and those who serve in our military.  Remember that dark money and gerrymandering and vote suppression have sickened American democracy but not yet killed it.

Remember in November.

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(reblog), health, history, humor

Comedy Relief

As Abraham Lincoln said when somebody objected to his fondness for corny jokes during the Civil War:

«I laugh because I must not cry.»

So far, the COVID-19 crisis is still not as bad as the Civil War.  The USA survived that, partly because the POTUS was caring and competent.

Visit the post reblogged here to see a fine collection of cartoons and jokes.

Mitch Teemley

After performing tragedies, the ancient Greeks always staged comedies, often making fun of the tragedies they’d just presented. Why? Comedy relief. Likewise, humor flourishes during wars and epidemics. Morbidity? No, survival. When we’re under attack, we ridicule our attackers and tease ourselves. Why? Because it helps us cope, reminds us we’re in this together and, well, simply provides comedy relief. Those Greeks had it right.

Click on any image to enlarge it, or to start slide show.

Some Pandemic Humor found Online

  • I’ll tell you a coronavirus joke now, and check back in two weeks to see if you got it.
  • Finland has closed its borders. That’s right, no one is allowed to cross the finish line.
  • I ran out of toilet paper and had to start using the New York Times. Man, the Times are rough.
  • Kids who came of age during the millennium are called Millennials. With…

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haiku, history, humor, photography

Vertical Shoreline

How can a shoreline be vertical?  Well, steep cliffs can plunge nearly straight down into the sea.  There may be a cave entrance right at the actual shoreline.  Do we dare enter the cave?  Perhaps (to borrow a few words from Patrick Jennings’ Challenge #220) a beautiful light awaits us there.
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Shoreline ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #220

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Is the sea at Capri’s shoreline still as clear now as it was when I was there in 1977?  I hope so.

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While we’re on the subject of clarity, let’s note that it is not clear whether the eponymous goats really did live on ancient Capri.  But it is clear that the island sited precursors of Mar-a-Lago for Imperial Rome’s fat tyrants.

From the outside, the Blue Grotto (Tiberius’ private pool) looks much like the (other?) grotto in my photo.  The view from inside is entirely different.

A cave entrance right at the shoreline can sometimes work magic.

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Blue Grotto (Capri) [edited image]

Capri Shoreline, Long Ago
|Goats traverse cliffs while
|pink whale swims in blue grotto.
|Naked emperor.

history, humor, photography

Gourds, Peppers, and Progress

Unpacking groceries prompts me to salute a milestone in photographic history.  Really.  Nagging gourds and sexy peppers have a lot to say about kinds of progress and accepting responsibility for choices, in photography and beyond.
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§1: 2019-09-23

“Buy me!” says the wonderfully colored gourd.  I refuse:

“No, I’ve already bought what I need for this year’s fall decorations.  There’s no room for another gourd.”

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“But I’m new and special.  Look at the feathering between my greens.”

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“OK.”

I put the gourd in the cart, check out, and drive home.  As I unpack the groceries, I happen to set the new gourd down in a way that is vaguely reminiscent of a reclining nude.  Then I recall a milestone in photographic history.

§2: 1927 — 1930

Edward Weston’s meticulous closeup photos of scores of common objects (notably bell peppers) are marvels of imagination and ingenuity.  They also prompt one critic to remark that Weston’s peppers look like nudes while his nudes look like peppers.

Pepper-1930-30P

Weston works in grayscale (aka “black and white”).  The color of a pepper would only be a distraction anyway.  While people have various skin colors, nobody’s skin is red or green.

§3: 2019-09-27

“Buy us!” say 3 colorful gourds.  I refuse:

“No, I’ve already bought an extra gourd that I will use to salute Edward Weston.”

“Last year, U bought a total of 10.  We’ll just bring it up to 8.”

“Last year’s gourds were smaller and came in bags of 5.”

“Weston bought more than 30 peppers.”

“But he could eat them when he was done shooting.”

“Puhleeze!”

“OK.”

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I’m a pushover.   ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

§4: Now and Forever

Remember when cameras used analog film, color darkroom work was sorcery, and color prints faded under museum lighting?  Artistic photographers had to work in grayscale.  Viewers did not pine for color in the masters’ photos.

Sadly, some photographers mistook a temporary necessity for a permanent virtue.  Wanna create a colorful image?  Buy some tubes of paint.  Stick with grayscale for artistic photography.

The sweeping general assertion of grayscale’s intrinsic superiority was a gross insult to Eliot Porter (and to all who hiked the trails he blazed in color photography).

Some photos do look better in grayscale than in color.  Maybe something with interesting contours and textures happens to have distracting colors.  Grayscale is great for Weston’s peppers.

Sometimes progress replaces an old thing with a new one that is all-around better, as in the transition from analog film to digital pixels.  The transition from obligatory grayscale to color (in varying degress of saturation) is a subtler kind of progress that adds choices.  Lots of choices.

Photo editing software supports having some color classes or parts of an image be more saturated than others.  Done casually and obtrusively, it can be gimmicky.  Done carefully and subtly, it can work with other edits to greatly improve a photo.  One of the contemporary photographers I admire steps thru instructive examples:

What I Am Working On: Building Blocks

What I Am Working On: Fiddling

If U choose to desaturate a photo (either partially or all the way to grayscale), I may disagree with that choice.  I will still respect it, but only as a specific choice.  What I won’t respect is a blanket assertion that photos “should” be in grayscale.  Or in color.  Or have shallow depth of focus.  Or have everything in focus. Or whatever.

Here is one blanket pronouncement that I do respect, in photography and beyond:

Don’t hide behind sweeping generalities.
Own your choices.

history, politics

Independence Day, 2019

It’s a pardonable oversimplification: celebrating “the” day the Continental Congress held some truths to be self-evident.  Yes, they were all privileged white males.  Yes, some lived off the toil of slaves.  But their concept of public service was not based on pandering to bigotry and whoring for campaign contributions.
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Knowingly or not, the signers of the Declaration of Independence started something big, still far from finished, and now critically endangered.  They started the long hard slog to build a nation with liberty and justice for all.

336541 - flag and fireworks,

© Scott David Patterson | 123RF Stock Photo

Happy July 4th!

haiku, history

Motion in Haiku: Another Surprise

Like still photos, many haiku capture a moment in time.  My first foray into capturing motion in haiku yielded 2 surprises.  Here comes another, in time for the centennial on 2018-11-11 of the armistice that ended the fighting in World War I.
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Let’s start by summarizing the older surprises that I posted in response to a CDHK episode.  Credits for the images below are at the end of this post for readability.

The first surprise was that that so much motion could fit in a haiku:

Redemptive Trickle
|A shell exploded!
|Water slowly filled the hole
|and held the whole sky.

Of course, my haiku that is like a movie was inspired by this classic World War I haiku that is like a still photo:

© Maurice Betz
|A shell hole
|In its water
|Held the whole sky.

The second surprise was that I did not have a stable preference between these haiku.  Like someone viewing the classic ambiguous image that can be seen as a duck facing one way or as a rabbit facing the other, I flip-flopped between the still photo by Betz and the movie by me.  So did at least 2 readers of my old post.

Here is the new third surprise.  After writing yet another shell hole haiku, I finally have a stable preference.  My preferred haiku is like a movie that starts after the explosion:

Healing Trickle
|Water slowly filled
|the shell blast’s muddy crater.
|It held the whole sky.

Image Sources

Unable to find appropriate and affordable period images, I used contemporary images: a generic explosion and a puddle that looks much like the water-filled shell hole.  The puddle photo has been cropped to be more nearly square.