Category Archives: Photography

Image of the day: An astronomical Ojo de Dios


The Ojo de Dios, or God’s Eye, is a votive device used by throughout Latin America used as a talisman for both protection and veneration.

The phrase immediately popped into mind when we came across this image from the telescopes of the European Southern Observatory, a remarkable multi-government telescope located at three sites high in the dry, largely cloudless,  Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth.

Backed by the governments of Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, and Chile, the ESO hosts a wide array of telescopes, including one officially named the Extremely Large Telescope [a planned Overwhelmingly Large Telescope proved too costly].

Which brings us to the image [click on to enlarge]:

VISTA’s look at the Helix Nebula

ESO’s Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) has captured this unusual view of the Helix Nebula (NGC 7293), a planetary nebula located 700 light-years away. The coloured picture was created from images taken through Y, J and K infrared filters. While bringing to light a rich background of stars and galaxies, the telescope’s infrared vision also reveals strands of cold nebular gas that are mostly obscured in visible images of the Helix.
Credit: ESO/VISTA/J. Emerson. Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

Image of the day: It’s spectacular, by Jove!


From the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a new image captures the awesome beauty of the giant of our solar system, named after Rome’s king of the gods. Click on the image to enlarge to full spectacularity:

More from NASA:

A multitude of magnificent, swirling clouds in Jupiter’s dynamic North North Temperate Belt is captured in this image from NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Appearing in the scene are several bright-white “pop-up” clouds as well as an anticyclonic storm, known as a white oval.

This color-enhanced image was taken at 1:58 p.m. PDT on Oct. 29, 2018 (4:58 p.m. EDT) as the spacecraft performed its 16th close flyby of Jupiter. At the time, Juno was about 4,400 miles (7,000 kilometers) from the planet’s cloud tops, at a latitude of approximately 40 degrees north.

Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran created this image using data from the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager.

JunoCam’s raw images are available at www.missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam for the public to peruse and process into image products.

More information about Juno is online at http://www.nasa.gov/juno and http://missionjuno.swri.edu.

Image of the day: A galaxy’s glowing heart


From the venerable Hubble Space Telescope:

From NASA:

This Hubble Space Telescope image shows the unbarred spiral galaxy NGC 5033, located about 40 million light-years away in the constellation of Canes Venatici (the Hunting Dogs). The galaxy is similar in size to our own galaxy, the Milky Way, at just over 100,000 light-years across. Like in the Milky Way, NGC 5033’s spiral arms are dotted with blue regions, indicating ongoing star formation. The blue patches house hot, young stars in the process of forming, while the older, cooler stars populating the galaxy’s center cause it to appear redder in color.

In contrast to the Milky Way, NGC 5033 is missing a central bar. Instead, it has a bright and energetic core called an active galactic nucleus, which is powered by a supermassive black hole. This active nucleus gives it the classification of a Seyfert galaxy. Due to the ongoing activity, the core of NGC 5033 shines brightly across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. This released energy shows that the central black hole is currently devouring stars, dust and gas getting close to it. As this matter falls onto the supermassive black hole, it radiates in many different wavelengths.

While its relative proximity to Earth makes it an ideal target for professional astronomers to study its active nucleus in more detail, its big apparent size in the night sky and its brightness also make it a beautiful target for amateur astronomers.

Image of the day: A massive solar flare erupts


From NASA:

What’s happened to our Sun? Nothing very unusual — it just threw a filament. Toward the middle of 2012, a long standing solar filament suddenly erupted into space producing an energetic Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). The filament had been held up for days by the Sun’s ever changing magnetic field and the timing of the eruption was unexpected. Watched closely by the Sun-orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory, the resulting explosion shot electrons and ions into the Solar System, some of which arrived at Earth three days later and impacted Earth’s magnetosphere, causing visible aurorae. Loops of plasma surrounding an active region can be seen above the erupting filament in the featured ultraviolet image. Although the Sun is now in a relatively inactive state of its 11-year cycle, unexpected holes have opened in the Sun’s corona allowing an excess of charged particles to stream into space. As before, these charged particles are creating auroras.

Image of the Day: A glowing bubble in space


From NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day, a look at a spectacular vision far, far away [click on the image to enlarge]:

NGC 7635: The Bubble Nebula

Blown by the wind from a massive star, this interstellar apparition has a surprisingly familiar shape. Cataloged as NGC 7635, it is also known simply as The Bubble Nebula. Although it looks delicate, the 7 light-year diameter bubble offers evidence of violent processes at work. Above and left of the Bubble’s center is a hot, O-type star, several hundred thousand times more luminous and some 45 times more massive than the Sun. A fierce stellar wind and intense radiation from that star has blasted out the structure of glowing gas against denser material in a surrounding molecular cloud. The intriguing Bubble Nebula and associated cloud complex lie a mere 7,100 light-years away toward the boastful constellation Cassiopeia. This sharp, tantalizing view of the cosmic bubble is a composite of Hubble Space Telescope image data from 2016, reprocessed to present the nebula’s intense narrowband emission in an approximate true color scheme.

Image of the day: Adding celestial perspective


Dire as things may seem here on Planet Earth, an occasional reminder of our place in the scheme of things seems in order.

From the NASA Image Archive comes a composite view of the Crab nebula, an iconic supernova remnant in our Milky Way galaxy, as viewed by the Herschel Space Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope:

Scenes from a walk in downtown Los Angeles


Thursday was a family day as esnl [behind the lens], daughter Jackie [left] her spouse Krys [right[, his mom, and granddaughter Sadie Rose [melting our heart with s a smile] hit the bricks for a day on the town, starting with a visit to the Broad Museum:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 1250, 4.3 mm, 1/250 sec, f3.3

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 1250, 4.3 mm, 1/250 sec, f3.3

Right across the street from the Broad is downtown LA’s most striking architectural feature, architect Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall.

We were fortunate in that all traffic to the area had been blocked off because high school students were enjoying a day with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, giving us the rare opportunity to shoot with any traffic:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 160, 4.4 mm, 1/640 sec, f4

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 160, 4.4 mm, 1/640 sec, f4

Another shot, taken from the entrance of the Broad looking across Second Street:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 100, 4.3 mm, 1/2000 sec, f4

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 100, 4.3 mm, 1/2000 sec, f4

Inside the Broad, we toured Creature, an exhibit of the monstrous captured by artists in both it florid and it’s more mundane forms. Sadie Rose found herself smitten with an Andy Warhol take on Bella Lugosi’s Dracula [she’s in her “I love monsters” phase].

We were drawn to a couple of Jeff Koons sculptures. the first, a delightful rendition of America’s greatest comedian of silent screen era, Buster Keaton:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 250, 4.3 mm, 1/60 sec, f3.3

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 250, 4.3 mm, 1/60 sec, f3.3

And there’s this rendition of the ambiguous Michael Jackson and his pet chimp, Bubbles:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 320, 4.3 mm, 1/125 sec, f3.3

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 320, 4.3 mm, 1/125 sec, f3.3

After lunch we took a stroll, giving us the opportunity of shooting two murals adorning walls adjacent to downtown parking lots.

First, a work entitled Who Will Guard the Guards Themselves?, a translation of that famous line from the Roman poet Juvenal, “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 100, 4.3 mm, 1/200 sec, f4

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 100, 4.3 mm, 1/200 sec, f4

Another mural offers a more optimistic perspective:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 100, 4.3 mm, 1/500 sec, f4

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 100, 4.3 mm, 1/500 sec, f4

For our last two shots, we with to black and white, a perspective that allows us to capture the basic form of architectural features, as in this image of architecture detail atop a seven-story building:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 100, 11.7 mm, 1/500 sec, f4.9

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 100, 11.7 mm, 1/500 sec, f4.9

And finally this image of a century old medallion adorning the top of the six-story Homer Laughlin Building, home of the city’s famous Grand Central Market:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 200, 86 mm, 1/500 sec, f6.4

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 17 February 2017, ISO 200, 86 mm, 1/500 sec, f6.4

Alt-reality: Paper is Trumped by Alec Baldwin


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Sometimes, when a story seems too good to be true, it really is true.

Consider the case of the hapless newspaper editors who were fooled by their own mistake, an alt-reality, as it were.

From BBC News:

Actor Alec Baldwin’s impression on Saturday Night Live of Donald Trump tricked a national newspaper into thinking he was the real thing.

El Nacional in the Dominican Republic has now apologised for accidentally publishing a still of Alec Baldwin, captioned as the US president, next to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

The image accompanied an article about Israeli settlements.

The paper has said sorry to readers and “anyone affected”.

The picture was sent to the newspaper along with information about Saturday Night Live, the long-running US satirical programme.

No-one spotted the mistake, says El Nacional.

The correction proved to be a masterpiece, the result of a frantic image search that almost makes for a bulletproof alibi,as well as a testament to Baldwin’s impersonation chops:

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Trump’s self-presentation: Two Twitter images


Donald J. Trump is, as well all know, a Twitter addict, now running two accounts.

The older account, created in March 2009, features Trump at his most bloviating, featuring sneering slurs and cretinous carping about people who have the cojones to criticize his pusillanimous prevarications.

Call it the Channel of the Id:

Here’s the photo he chose to accompany his tweets:

blog-trump-2

The content of his newer account, the official Twitter channel for the presidency, is slightly less outre that the first thoiugh its still relentlessly self-promoting, full of boasts and exaggeration, but largely lacking the more outrageous slurs and slams.

Call it the channel of the Ego.

Here’s the presidential portrait he chose for those tweets;

blog-trump-pic
In both images, he scowls.

In neither image is their the faintest sense of compassion.

We’ll leave the rest of the analysis to you, gentle reader.

Welcome Deanna: esnl becomes a grandpa again


Tiny Deanna smiles from her incubator.

Tiny Deanna smiles from her incubator.

And so eager to join the world that granddaughter Deanna arrived early.

Yep, as our son Derald writes on the birth of his firstborn:

As you know at the beginning of the month Anna was hospitalized when she had a rupture when her water broke. She has been there since and appeared to be staple with her water level returning to normal. The doctors had planned to keep her there until after Presidents Day when they planned to induce labor.

Well last night Anna went into labor unexpectedly and gave birth within about 20 minutes. Deanna is healthy and looks to be fine. She was born much earlier than anticipated (due date was beginning of April). Birthweight of 3lb, 10oz.

She will stay in the NICU for 4-6 weeks, but by all appearances is healthy.She is in an incubator but is doing well and even cries, but I’ve found that my voice has a soothing effect on her. The staff and facilities at the hospital seem top notch which is comforting.

They told me they are going to discharge Anna tomorrow so I have to get cleaning the condo!!

Here’s mommy and daughter, lit by the germ-killing ultraviolets of the incubator:

blog-deanna-mom

And daddy Derald and daughter Deanna:

blog-deanna-dad

And, finally, Derald, after a night that was a lot harder on mommyy:

blof-deanna-sleeping-dad

Images of the sunny morning sky in Gardena


Two shots captured off our second-floor balcony this morning.

First, a look at a sunlit cloud in an otherwise clear and brilliant sky, cleansed by days of rain that ended yesterday:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 13 January 2017, ISO 160, 7.9 mm, 1/500 sec, f4.0

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 13 January 2017, ISO 160, 7.9 mm, 1/500 sec, f4.0

A minute later we were drawn by a sound we’d nearly forgotten from our years in California, thumping out a few hundred feet overhead:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 13 January 2017, ISO 400, 86 mm, 1/500 sec, f6.4

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 13 January 2017, ISO 400, 86 mm, 1/500 sec, f6.4

Back 40 years ago we lived in Hollywood, then in its seedier years.

Because of the high crime rate in the area, our apartment was frequently overflown by police and news helicopters in search of moscreants.

So ubiquitous were the whirlybirds that the first word other than ma-ma and da-da uttered by toddler son Derald was heli-heli, ususally accompanied by an upthrust right hand, pointing at the aircraft.

UPDATE: Another shot, taken from the same vantage point as the first, depicting this evening’s sunset:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 13 January 2017, ISO 160, 4.3 mm, 1/125 sec, f3.3

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 13 January 2017, ISO 160, 4.3 mm, 1/125 sec, f3.3

Mr. Fish: Making America Great Again


From Clowncrack, his blog of patrial puissance:

blog-fish

The image is based on one of the most famous photographs taken during the Vietnam War and captured by Eddie Adams of the Associated Press, the summary execution by South Vietnam’s chief of the National Police Nguyen Ngoc Loan of a handcuffed prisoner on 1 February 1968 during the famous Tet Offensive:

blog-fish-photo

Caution: Selfies may be hazardous to your health


Not just hazardous, but lethal, as two new stories reveal.

We’ve noted before the sometimes calamitous nature of our indulgence in digital narcissism, with selfie-snapping stupidity now listed as a cause of more deaths than shark attacks.

Wikipedia even maintains a list of selfie-related deaths and injuries.

And now we have two more tragedies to add to the list.

We start with a fatality

First from the Press Trust of India:

A 21-year-old engineering student died when he was hit by a speeding train while trying to take a selfie here in the wee hours today, police said. The incident occurred past midnight when the student was returning after celebrating New Year, they said.

Gunasekharan, a resident of Dindigul district studying at a private college in the city’s outskirt, died on the spot when he was trying to take a selfie with the train in the background using his mobile phone, police said.

The victim was hit by the train and hurled at a distance of around 100 feet, they said.

And a near-lethal bite from a crocodile

And while the consequences of the second selfie disaster weren’t lethal, they could’ve been.

From Radio France International:

A French tourist has been bitten by a crocodile in a Thai national park as whe tried to take a selfie with the beast. She was taken to hopsital and is expected to recover.

The crocodile bit 47-year-old Muriel Benetulier on the leg when she ignored warning signs and approached it to take a selfie, park officials said.

The incident took place at the Khao Yai national park, three hours north of Bangkok.

Local media posted pictures of park rangers dressed in camouflage carrying the victim strapped to a stretcher, a thick bandage around her knee. Another photo showed a ranger pointing to a pool of blood close to a sign saying in Thai and English “Danger Crocodile No Swimming”.

Fearful photographers call for camera encryption


While the security-conscious among us rely on encryption to protect our phones and computers, there’s another piece of hardware where matters just as much — the digital camera.

And for journalists, camera encryption can be a matter of life and death, both for the photographer and for her sources.

The increasing intrusiveness of state law enforcement and security makes encryption all the more necessary, and now some of the world’s leading photographers are calling on camera manufacturers to include sophisticated encryption in their hardware.

It’s a call we heartily endorse.

From Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation:

Freedom of the Press Foundation is publishing an open letter to the world’s leading camera manufacturers—including Nikon, Sony, Canon, Olympus, and Fuji—urging them to build encryption into their still photo and video cameras to help protect the filmmakers and photojournalists who use them.

The letter is signed by over 150 documentary filmmakers and photojournalists from around the world, including fifteen Academy Award nominees and winners, such as Laura Poitras, Alex Gibney, Joshua Oppenheimer, and many more.

Documentary filmmakers and photojournalists work in some of the most dangerous parts of the world, often risking their lives to get footage of newsworthy events to the public. They face a variety of threats from border security guards, local police, intelligence agents, terrorists, and criminals when attempting to safely return their footage so that it can be edited and published. These threats are particularly heightened any time a bad actor can seize or steal their camera, and they are left unprotected by the lack of security features that would shield their footage from prying eyes.

The magnitude of this problem is hard to overstate: Filmmakers and photojournalists have their cameras and footage seized at a rate that is literally too high to count. The Committee to Protect Journalists, a leading organization that documents many such incidents, told us:

“Confiscating the cameras of photojournalists is a blatant attempt to silence and intimidate them, yet such attacks are so common that we could not realistically track all these incidents. The unfortunate truth is that photojournalists are regularly targeted and threatened as they seek to document and bear witness, but there is little they can do to protect their equipment and their photos.” (emphasis added)

Camera manufacturers are behind the times compared to other technology companies. All iPhones and many Android phones come with encryption built into their devices. Communications services like Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime, plus Facebook’s WhatsApp, encrypt texts messages and calls by default. And major operating systems on PCs and Macs give users the ability to encrypt the hard drives on their computers. Yet footage stored on the professional cameras most commonly used today are still left dangerously vulnerable.

Finding the right way to do provide encryption in their products will take some research and development from these camera manufacturers, and we welcome having a conversation with Nikon, Sony, Canon and others about how to best move forward on this important initiative. However, we are hopeful they will publicly respond with a commitment to building encryption into their products to protect many of their most vulnerable customers.

We’d like to thank Field of Vision, the International Documentary Association, National Press Photographers Assocation, and Sundance’s Documentary Films Program, who we partnered with on this project and who all helped organize this effort. The letter below is addressed to Canon, and nearly identical letters have been sent to Sony, Nikon, Fuji, and Olympus:


Dear Canon,

We, the undersigned documentary filmmakers and photojournalists, are writing to urge your company to build encryption features into your still photo and video camera products. These features, which are currently missing from all commercial cameras on the market, are needed to protect our safety and security, as well as that of our sources and subjects worldwide.

Without encryption capabilities, photographs and footage that we take can be examined and searched by the police, military, and border agents in countries where we operate and travel, and the consequences can be dire.

We work in some of the most dangerous parts of the world, often attempting to uncover wrongdoing in the interests of justice. On countless occasions, filmmakers and photojournalists have seen their footage seized by authoritarian governments or criminals all over the world. Because the contents of their cameras are not and cannot be encrypted, there is no way to protect any of the footage once it has been taken. This puts ourselves, our sources, and our work at risk.

Image of the day: Well, back to the drawing board


Back in Berkeley, our avian neighbors included Coopers hawks [subjects of lots of our previous photos], parrots, and assorted other colorful critters, but here at the new Casa esnl in Gardena, our most prominent feathered friends are seagulls and swallows.

The most prominent sight from our balcony is a hulking four-story apartment building, whose owners decided they had to do something to keep birds from doing what they do-do, installing a flock of those fake owls on the parapets.

Here’s how effective they are:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 20 October 2016, ISO 125, 86 mm, 1/500 sec, f6.4

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 20 October 2016, ISO 125, 86 mm, 1/500 sec, f6.4

Images, flags, burning desires, and Vietnam


Following up on our previous post about Donald Trump’s to criminalize and deport folks who burn flags as a means of protesting malignant policies of the American government, we are old enough to remember the Vietnam War, the American government’s failed effort to cement a regime in then-South Vietnam that would dance to a tune orchestrated in Washington.

At the start of World War II, Vietnam was part of the French colony of Indochina, and during the war, Japan invaded and seized control of the region, and a powerful guerilla movement spring up under Ho Chi Minh — who was provided with arms and advisors by the Allies.

Nine years after the war’s end, Vietnam was ruled by Emperor Bao Dai, who had grown increasingly unpopular, Ho’s forces, meanwhile had turned against the French, inflicting a disastrous and decisive defeat of a trapped French army at the battle of Dien Bien Phu on 7 May 1954.

As a result, the nation was partitioned at, with the north governed by Ho and his allies, and Bao Dai ruling in the South, with an election to be held in 1956 to decide on reunification and the leadership of a united Vietnam.

But with U.S. back, Ngô Ðình Diêm defeated Bao Dai in a 1954 election in the south, and the U.S. began pouring in military aid while cutting off the north from sorely needed access to resources.

That same year, as the Pentagon Papers noted, “President Eisenhower is widely quoted to the effect that in 1954 as many as 80% of the Vietnamese people would have voted for Ho Chi Minh, as the popular hero of their liberation, in an election against Bao Dai.”

Since neither the U.S. nor the South Vietnamese governed had signed the treaty calling for the elections, the vote was never held [talk about yer foreign interference in an election. . .].

The stage was thus set for war, and events in Vietnam were elevated into a major Cold War confrontation, with the Soviet Union backing Ho and the U.S. backing Diem.

The U.S. spent lavishly supporting Diem’s military, while Soviewt aid to the North was less extensive, although it did include the war’s decisive weapon, tjhe virtually indestructible AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle, a weapon more durable than any then used by the U.S., and still in use among guerilla forces around the world.

The North supported guerilla forces in the south, the famous Viet Cong, and they steadily eroded the Diem military.

Under John F. Kennedy, American military “advisers” were dispatched to the South, quickly assuming combat roles before becoming the dominant force supporting the Diem regime.

But Diem, a member of the country’s small Catholic community, was immensely unpopular among the country’s majority Buddhists, and the first and most dramatic instance of protest involving fire occurred on 11 June 1963, when in protest of Diem’s repression of the country’s Buddhists, a monk named Thích Quang Duc immolated himself at an intersection just a few short blocks from the Presidential Palace in Saigon.

Images of the act prompted a wave of outrage against Diem that swept around the world:

blog-fire-monk

As the war intensified, the draft began to loom larger in the lives of young American men, many of whom could see no valid reason for killing and being killed in a nation many had never heard of before the war flared into a raging conflagration.

One young man who received his draft notice announced he would not servem declaring:

“I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. . .Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?”

A year later he would declare:

“My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father.”

And thus Muhammad Ali earned a federal prison sentence, emerging from behind bars to prove himself the greatest pugilist America has ever produced.

Organized protests began to arise [some of which we participated in], and on 15 October 1969, more than two million Americans marched against the war.

One emblematic action of protests throughout the Vietnam war was flag-burning, here illustrated by protesters demonstrating at the 20 January 1969 presidential inaugural of Richard M. Nixon:

blog-fire-flag

Needless to say, the flag-burnings outraged Republicans of the day.

But the most potent and iconic symbol of the war was the result of the American military’s use of fire bombs during the conflict, delivered sometimes by U.S. jets and, in this instance, by American-supplied South Vietnamese fighter-bombers.

It happened on 8 June 1972, when the village of Trang Bang was targeted with napalm bombs because of intelligence suggested that it harbored Viet Cong guerillas.

One of those burned by the napalm was a nine-year-old girl, Phan Thi Kim Phuc, and the image s of her flight from the devastation captured by Associated Press photographer Nick Ut burned their way into the American conscience, revealing the ruthless strategy employed by the United States to win at all costs:

blog-fire-vn

But a second photo, showing her grandmother carrying the seared corpse of one of her cousins is perhaps ever more devastating:

blog-fire-vn-2

Perhaps no one better captured the hypocrisy of criminalized flag-burning with the burning of human bodies by a detestable weapon of war that did esnl’s favorite alternative press cartoonist of the 1960’s, R. Cobb, in this brilliant 1967 graphic for the Los Angeles Free Press:

blog-fire-cobb

As for the legality of burning the American flag, here’s the bottom line from Texas v. Johnson, the 21 June 1989 Supreme Court ruling that is currently the law of the land:

If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.

We have not recognized an exception to this principle even where our flag has been involved.

But with Republicans in full control of the White House and national legislature and poised to gain control over the Supreme Court, we expect that Trump will get his wish, one way or another.

Finally, back to Vietnam

The Vietnam War taught the American government two important lessons.

First was an end to the draft.

While virtually unreported by the American media, the real reason Richard Nixon realized he had to end the war was the rebellion of U.S. troops along the Demilitarized Zone [DMZ] separating the two halves of Vietnam.

That’s what happens when you draft young men to fight for a cause for which they see no valid reason to sacrifice their own lives.

Ripping unwilling combatants away from their homes, families, and jobs is a sure-fire way to foster resentment and rebellion, nowhere better shown that in Daniel Zeiger’s brilliant 2005 documentary Sir! No Sir!, recorded here from a broadcast on BBC:

Sir! No Sir! A Film About The GI Movement Against The War In Vietnam

America turns to mercenaries, embedded reporters

Since Vietnam, America has fought its war with mercenaries, soldiers recruited often from the nation’s poorest regions, where youths facing bleak prospects at home are drawn to the military by promises of job training, education funds, and a position they are assured will imbue them with self-dignity and respect.

No more unwilling combatants; rather, a military filled with those who see no other alternative than lives filled with misery.

The second lesson the Vietnam war taught Americans military and political elites was that free-roving reporters could capture images and stories threatening to their interests by revealing powerful counter-narratives to the official line.

Hence the evolution of the embedded reporter, carefully contained and controlled.

And by criminalizing flag-burning, Donald Trump would deprive protest movements of one of their most powerful symbolic acts.

Image of the day: Daughter and granddaughter


Just a simple case of grandfatherly indulgence, featuring daughter Jackie and granddaughter Sadie Rose:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 14 October 2016, ISO 1600, 4.3 mm, 1/60 sec, f3.3

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 14 October 2016, ISO 1600, 4.3 mm, 1/60 sec, f3.3

UPDATE: We couldn’t resist adding another image,featuring Sadie Rose and her rocking pig:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 14 October 2016, ISO 1600, 9 mm, 1/60 sec, f4.4

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 14 October 2016, ISO 1600, 9 mm, 1/60 sec, f4.4

A call for immigrant sanctuary on Cal campuses


With the Trumpster promising immediate mass deportations on taking the presidential oath, one California elected official is calling for a declaration of sanctuary for the state’s college and university campuses.

From the East Bay Times:

California’s public colleges and universities should be declared “sanctuary campuses” and protect law-abiding students from the threat of deportation, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote in a letter to leaders of Cal State, UC and the community college system.

“We must take urgent stock of current policies and vulnerabilities pertaining to the personal data held and processed by the University of California, to shield students from federal agencies under a Trump administration,” he wrote.

Newsom, who is running for governor, met with students Thursday at a UC regents meeting in San Francisco to discuss their concerns about President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to deport millions of people who entered the country illegally.

Calls for sanctuary campuses are mounting across the state. Cal State Chancellor Timothy White announced at a CSU board meeting this week that unless forced to by law, Cal State “will not enter into agreements with state or local law enforcement agencies, Homeland Security or any other federal department for the enforcement of federal immigration law.”

Image of the day: An early evening sky in Paris


Captured walking after the rain near the Canal Saint Martin in Paris:

Nikon D200, 31 January 2007, Nikon D200, ISO 1600, 18 mm, 1/320 sec, f11

Nikon D200, 31 January 2007, Nikon D200, ISO 1600, 18 mm, 1/320 sec, f11

The reasons Trump is winning the White House


From Reuters, the results of a Reuters/Ipsos poll of people who had already cast their ballots this morning:

The poll of more than 10,000 people who have already cast their ballots in the presidential election showed a majority of voters are worried about their ability to get ahead and have little confidence in political parties or the media to improve their situation. A majority also feel that the economy is rigged to mostly help the wealthy.

The poll, which will be updated as additional responses are tallied and votes are counted throughout Tuesday, found:

  • 75 percent agree that “America needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful.”
  • 72 percent agree “the American economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful.”
  • 68 percent agree that “traditional parties and politicians don’t care about people like me.”
  • 76 percent believe “the mainstream media is more interested in making money than telling the truth.”
  • 57 percent feel that “more and more, I don’t identify with what America has become.”
  • 54 percent feel “it is increasingly hard for someone like me to get ahead in America.”

Hillary is the consummate insider.Trump, the brashly self-declared outsider.

With Clinton, they’d be getting continuity, they very last thing they want. With Trump, disruption seems certain.

The mainstream media fail to inform the public of the real reasons they’re feeling used, and that left the field open to open to propaganda outlets bankrolled by a companies eager to whip up resentment of governments that are hindering their agendas.

Trump, rocketed to national stardom by a network reality show, found a new network to sponsor, a network whose newspaper chain specializes in celebrity flesh and sleaze [even to the point of getting editors and reporters criminally charged with illegal phone surveillance].

The Magic Christian is headed to the White house.